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IMPORTANT UPDATE 4 August 2015:
This is an OLD version of chapter 2.
It has been REPLACED by the current version, which you find here.
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The second chapter is here! We have decided to make this too publically visible (just as we did with the first chapter) – in order to let everybody have a first free taste of the book.
Chapters will keep being posted, as they are written, but to read the coming chapters, a password will be required. This can be obtained by contributing to our crowdfunding campaign.
Note that the chapter posted below is a draft copy, as will be the case with the coming chapters as well. The completed manuscript will be published as an e-book by the end of the year, and the publication of a printed book will follow sometime after that.
Enjoy the reading!
* UPDATE 30 May 2014: What follows below is version 2 of the draft chapter 2. *
Here on the island the sun is shining constantly, and I know of nothing else.
Even at night, when asleep on my bed of seaweeds, the sun speaks to me – of its own light.
But your letter seems to be telling me of something else.
I see that you have been a traveler of many countries; a wanderer of many worlds. But Maya, tell me, have you ever known darkness? I am so hungry for it. Please, speak to me about darkness. Is it as soft as I imagine it, as loving and warm as the ink of your letter?
Maya, on your travels, have you ever passed through the lands of darkness?
Tell me, what colors did it have, and how did it smell?
Did you let it penetrate your body; does it run in your blood?
Shanto, in my childhood universe, it was important to ward the bad spirits off.
At the turn of the year, for instance, my Indonesian grandfather – the father of my mother – would always drape a big mat of firecrackers over a certain dead tree in our garden. The banging, which made the windows rattle, would go on until the bad spirits were all scared off from the vicinity of my family. This act of loving care, would send us all safely into the year to come.
Yet, on the day that I shared this beautiful knowledge with my own children’s father, he told me I was nuts. Such a ritual would do nothing but to scare the children, he claimed.
And I took his claim as the truth.
This is a telling example of how we used to move together in our everyday life, my children’s father and I. He would always claim to know how things were supposed to be. And I would take his claims, put them on my altar, and offer my everything to them.
This was an act of religious blindness that I repeated again and again. It became the single ritual that I let replace the entire wealth of traditions of my heritage.
I could no longer see the light of this heritage; the light of my own roots. And neither did I see that without access to these roots I would never be able to grow beyond them, into the flowering of my true self.
Blinded by the faith in my children’s father, I offered less and less resistance. Kneeling at my altar, I willingly let his claims cut me off from the blood of my ancestors – and my pulse got weaker and weaker; my breathing more and more strained.
I was strangling myself to death.
My children’s father, on his part, did not object to my self-destructive behavior. He did not once question my unreflecting faith in his view of the world, not even when he saw me withering away. On the contrary, he just kept feeding my behavior by repeating his mantra: “I am right.”
And so we fell together, he and I, deeper and deeper into the solid darkness of the faithful and obedient mind.
This kind of darkness consists of the unquestioned belief that if one is right, the other must be wrong – and in this kind of darkness no seed of love has ever sprouted.
But this is not the answer to your question, Shanto.
You are not asking about the darkness of the obedient and faithful mind; you are asking about real darkness.
And real darkness is not the place where I fell together with my children’s father.
Real darkness is where I come from.
It is the endless starry sky from where I am born every morning as I open my eyes; the sky from which I dream myself forth, breath by breath. It is what makes the sun shine in my being, and the heart beat in my chest.
Real darkness is pure potentiality – and thus there can be no obedience or faithfulness in it. Real darkness is the womb in which every perspective and way of being is waiting to be born – into this moment of existence.
Real darkness is the very pulse of aliveness itself, forever nourishing its beloved: the light.
There was a time when I couldn’t bear sunlight.
This was in my chaotic partying days.
I was a night beast in those years; a princess of darkness.
My world of sweaty dance floors, everlasting squat parties, and weedy dreams of art and revolution was illuminated by a full spectrum of artificial rainbow shades – around the clock.
There was no need for sunlight.
I felt much safer without.
It was in the ever available drugs that I was looking for my safety – and in my position as Marcus’ girlfriend.
Marcus was the king, and so I became his party princess.
As an entry ticket to his world, I had to shed my ballet costume – and thereby my entire previous life. But for being his, this was a price I never doubted to pay.
Or, in any case, it just had to be done.
I had breasts now, and they had grown to become a real asset. High on XTC, my life was more than liveable.
It was a new life, free not only of ballet, but also of bullies.
This new life of mine was a privileged happy-go-lucky life where the end of one trip marked nothing but the beginning of the next. This life had floors of fluorescent ice that could be gracefully glided on, walls of fire that could keep the body bubbling, and an endless number of doors that could all be entered at once; in one single magic moment – of complete oblivion.
Nothing was missing in my exciting jungle of various drugs, various degrees of hang-over and paranoia, and various adventures with all the beings I encountered on those meandering paths of numbness disguised as ecstasy.
Nothing was missing – as I had forgotten how to feel the pain of not belonging.
To my best knowing, the jungle where I lived was no other than the promised land.
It is true that there were people with knives in this land, and ugly characters rotting away in the corners. But the art was to keep dancing no matter what – oblivious of the daylight in which the truth risked to be revealed.
And, I mastered this art perfectly; excelling in it was indeed my job as a princess.
I always got my way. I knew the simple tricks; I had my unholy methods. I would get exactly what I wanted by simply wiggling my ass and forgetting my name.
As Marcus’ Chosen One, the pride of my glossy lips, and the golden princess’ crown that adorned my beautifully shining hair, was forever secured – according to the very laws of the jungle.
So, what more was there to wish for?
I couldn’t imagine an end to the party.
Yes, it is true, Shanto, that more than anything else I was lost.
I lived with the feeling that everybody else knew what they were doing, whereas I was hovering in thin air, ready to fall at any moment – out of my princesshood.
But to my surprise, I did not.
I just kept dancing – on my young well-shaven legs.
The fact that Marcus, the hotshot, often was sleeping with other party princesses couldn’t bother me less, because in the official version of my life as His Chosen One, unfaithfulness was a non-existent phenomenon. And it had become my second nature to suppress any impulse of making a reality check.
I would find foreign panties in our washing machine. Marcus would say they were his sister’s. I would think it odd that they had ended up in our home, but yet choose to believe in what he told me.
Rather than swallowing the bitter truth, I did everything to remain the princess of that promised house of Marcus. I did everything to keep my position as the one and only woman He shared His home with; the one and only womanHe was making love to – according to the one and only story I was feeding myself with. Since childhood.
This fragile, not to say untrue, story was the only thing powerful enough to give me the feeling that I too, the young and inexperienced one, knew what the hell I was doing in this weird existence – just as everybody else seemed to be knowing.
Deep within my heart something was stirring anxiously; but the daily polishing of my princess self-image, together with the numbing effect of my drug use, efficiently protected me from it.
And so, I danced on – for months, and years.
Until the Friday in November when my friend called.
“Come, see for yourself”, she said.
“He is with her now. I hear them fucking. This is it, you’ve got to come this time!”
In disbelief, I listened to the foreign, murky voice slowly making its way out of my mouth.
“Okay”, I heard it saying, “I’ll come”.
On the way, it dawned on me whose voice it was that had spoken. It was the voice of the wound of non-belonging.
I hadn’t heard it for years.
And never before had my body been so acutely aware of the terrifying power at its source. My heart was racing uncontrollably, and I felt like throwing up.
Heavily panting, I stopped in a street corner, dredged up a mirror from my purse, and was met by the sight of a very pale young woman.
Through the membrane of tears on her eyes, I glimpsed something black – as if there was a little child behind those eyes; a toddler or baby coiled up in well preserved rage.
Shivering, I put the dreadful mirror away – and hurried my steps.
The address my friend had given me was in Utrecht, but when I finally arrived everybody was already gone.
Yet, there was not a chance in the world that I would let go of this trail now. I scented something that had long been buried, and like a bloodhound I was bound to follow the scent to its source in order to unearth whatever it was that had to be unearthed.
The trail took me through a series of new discoveries, and then – within a few days after the call from my friend – it led me back to my parent’s house in Zeist; my childhood home.
I was walking backwards in time now.
And I was walking fast.
I used to be a tomboy.
I used to like to climb trees and pedal my bike very fast, unafraid of falling – which I did indeed do quite often. This way of living gave me as much scars on the legs as the boys, and I was accepted as one of them.
When I was 14 I had a boyfriend who was more into me than I into him. He gave me an orange moped that replaced my bicycle, and on that vehicle I continued to travel the world of the boys.
My very first boyfriends were actually more like friends of the boy in me than of the girl. Some required-by-duty kissing in front of our common friends did only temporarily conceal the fact that a couple of them were later to come out as gay.
A peculiar fact.
My sexy, handsome king Marcus, however, had nothing gay about him. With his dark hair, hip, self-assured lifestyle, and fun friends, he was entirely heterosexual in my eyes. And, totally awesome. He was the first and biggest deity of my partying years.
But already a year or so before I met Marcus, the jewel gate between my legs had been opened. This had kicked off the metamorphosis of the girl with boyfriends who did not like kissing into a young woman on a tremorous and open-ended quest for a graceful way of living a modern-day life; a quest most certainly worthy of a goddess.
Marcus and I would sometimes spend days on end together without opening doors or windows. It was together with him I started to understand my powers as a woman. I discovered how to unveil the portal of intimacy; and I instinctively knew that somewhere in the delicious mystery between my legs there must be a key to whatever it was that one day would still the restlessness of my heart.
There were many others to follow after Marcus. In my partying days, I learned the art of forgetting my name, and without a name to defend, my sacred cave was naturally being kept open in a largely unprejudiced longing made part of my existence – as Maya.
There were early morning hours when Maya was lying awake, trying in vain to recall how she had ended up in that particular bed where a man was now sleeping it off at her side. Yet, she would never leave a night like that without a few drops of tenderness trickling down the inner walls of her heart.
For it was in lovemaking she felt real; it was in lovemaking she was touched by the light.
Nothing made more sense to her in the land of lost and pot smoking souls than to make love.
But now something had happened.
Maya was walking back to her childhood home now; back to face the youngster called Marcus – and her own forgetfulness. She was walking in rage; a rage blessedly let out of its cage of darkness, pressing as a hundred thousand tears on the inside of her eyes.
When she arrived, an equally enraged Marcus greeted her by slapping her – in my face.
Yes, I had indeed slept with somebody – in revenge. But did it give him the right to be violent?
This day happened to be my own 20th birthday, but not a single one of my friends stood up by my side. Marcus’ slap together with their cowardice, was the definite nail in the coffin.
I sought his eyes and found them; and then I let it all out with no holding back. He was the one who had been unfaithful – not once, but many times, and since long. I wouldn’t take an ounce more of that shit, and I would let him know it in a way he would never forget!
My fierce gaze bore the timeless power of womanhood right across the chasm between two pulsating core wounds – mine and his. My princess’ crown evaporated in this primeval heat. Freed from its confinement, I could feel the divine light around my head; and see my power reach into his heart to pick mercilessly with a crow’s beak against the fragile walls of the fortress he had built out of his stubborn denial.
With his slap still burning on my cheek, I realized that I was armed with the perfect weapon: my hardnosed military boots. My leg flew out in a perfect movement to place a hard kick in Marcus’ unfaithful balls, and he fell to the floor wailing in pain.
Next, I turned to my friends, directing the same furious energy towards them and their collective cowardice. Screaming from my roots, I let them know that to be my friend takes guts – of which they definitely had none whatsoever.
A moment of silence followed, and then my mother entered the stage.
She had been witnessing everything, and now she burst out in a huge laughter – that was to ring in my ears for weeks and months to come.
As the great wave of laughter ebbed out, she chuckled with tears on her cheeks: “That was about time, dear child; that was about time!”
And, through a penetrating look into my eyes, she added wordlessly: “Now, remember who you are, and where you come from. Never again soil our name by exposing it to the unfaithful. Go plant the seed of your ancestors in the earth of the future, so that the pride of our family will live on.”
This question of darkness is not an easy one, Shanto.
The answer evades me, as I try to see how the blood of my ancestors can mix with the light of forgiveness that shines without a past. It evades me, as I wonder how the suffering of generations can ever be purged, and transformed into a power pure enough to mold a universe where the one is not necessarily wrong just because the other is right.
Let me return to this question of darkness and light when time so demands, but let me now just walk my path undisturbed by the dualistic thought of the great philosophers.
Let me just be me.
For an unpolished diamond too, is a diamond.
When my Indonesian grandfather died I was 13, and some spooky stuff happened.
During the days and weeks after he had passed away, I could feel him every time I entered his room – and lights were going on and off by themselves.
Forty days after his death, we gathered, according to our tradition, to celebrate and see his soul off to farther lands. We were all standing in his room, in silence. All the prayers were said, and we were about to blow out the candles and leave. Then the three doors of his room opened – all at once.
I knew of course that it was him, my beloved grandfather, coming in.
Or, was he going out?
I don’t know, Shanto.
But I do know that at last New Year’s, Alex, one of my sons, was burnt in his face – by a firecracker rocket.
And, I was not there to ward the bad spirits off.