Preface to the English-language translation.
What is Brabant? What is a Brabanter and how is he/she different from other people?
For uninitiated here a brief discourse of history
What is Brabant? What is a Brabanter and how is he/she different from other people? Chapters XI-XIII deal with these questions, but more importantly perhaps this novel is throughout infused with that Brabanter feeling.
For the uninitiated here a brief discourse of history. The Netherlands as it is presently, is only part of a greater Netherlands, called “The Low Countries” (les Pays Bas in French and Los Países Bajos in Spanish). It comprised the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and the North-West corner of France called “Picardy”. By contrast, “Holland” refers only to the Provinces of North- and South-Holland and perhaps part of Zeeland. For a long time the Low Countries were part of the Spanish Empire. For more see……..
From Chapter I – Altar boy
The first time I became a man I was only seven years old. I had done my best at school so that at the end of my first year I could read almost anything. My maternal grandmother, whom we called Opoe, had come up with the idea that I should perhaps become an altar boy. Opoe lived in an old folks home run by the Sisters of Love, a Roman Catholic Congregation of Nuns. She lived there, quite decently, in the second class. She did not belong to the upper class; that was only for the very rich ladies and third class no, that was only for the poor. About these poor I will tell more, later on. My Opoe owned two little houses and from the rental income from these she could live quite nicely. She had a drawing room and a separate bedroom and therefore she earned also a modicum of respect with the Sisters. Her proposal was therefore listened to and lo and behold, it was accepted. I was going to become an altar boy! At the bookstore where they also sold office supplies I purchased the altar boy Mass manual and I bought a sheet of black wrapping-paper. This was to serve as a cover for that manual and my mother took it upon her to cover my manual. Then, with that holy booklet in my hands, I went to my room.
Confiteor Deo Omnipotenti
I confess to You, my Almighty God
From Chapter LX – Revenge
She fell down in a corner, while she held her elbow. That right arm was hanging down in a wrong way. She moaned with high-pitched screams. I was also crying. Not because of any pain but rather of pure misery. Now I had to call the alarm number 911. After all those years. I left the knife in my hand; if I pulled it out it would certainly start bleeding even worse. With my right hand I searched in my left vest pocket for my cell phone.
“What the hell are you doing now Gus?” I was screaming to myself.
“You idiot. You are home, boy, you are in Brabant”.
Now the tears came in a stream and my glasses filled with them. I shoved the glasses high, but without the glasses I don’t see much. I had to bend closely over to see the numbers. The tears splattered like a Spring rain on my phone. My fingers slowly found their goal:
“1…1…2… and now the little green phone”.