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I was asked to describe my personality. It seemed to be important to the person “evaluating” me after she read my book The Remains of War. She needed to find out if my book (and I) could be considered for the NICC Magazine (for the Dutch/Indonesian community).

I find this very difficult and don’t like the question, because I don’t like to talk about myself. So I started out with an endorsement of my book: “my book is a memoir to read for all generations and never to forget. A witness’s sober portrayal of immense evil against endless suffering and true courage. Experiences, which continue to haunt till this day”.

She smiled and stopped me: “I first want to hear about yourself”.

All right then… here we go: “I think I am a consistent person, more serious than flippant or superficial. People call me assertive. I think I like to help; I’m crazy about children and very intent on finding solutions for problems and emotions. I’m a good listener and focused on what is not said behind expressions and conversations.”

I don’t feel comfortable with this lady. She is constantly looking at me, although her eyes are smiling.

She expected more.

“I find it difficult to talk about myself; I am actually a shy person among people I don’t know. Over the last period of my life I have focused more on the meaning of God in my life and know with certainty, that I would not have been able to write this book without His grace.”

That was obviously enough. I watched her pick up her handbag.

“No more self talk”, I think gratefully. She seemed to have made a decision.

“I would be very happy,” she said, “if you could speak to our members in various cities. I will let you know which dates would be available. I am very impressed with your book. You will be able to open a door for us, one that was unknown and closed. You are a unique person and life has kept you humble”.

I remained where I was, long after she had left, and the fading sound of her footsteps had disappeared. I felt like I won a reward.

I looked forward to seeing her again.

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