2 – Only the street names survive

At the corner of Billiton- and Borneostraat is a second-hand shop of the kind the Dutch used to call ‘uitdragerij’: a term with the same chaotic connotations as ‘junk dealer’.

The shop has no name, at least not so you’d notice. All the stuff on sale suggests that the house contents of a local who has passed away have ended up here. The children had to clear out the house. You can imagine what happened. ‘Anyone interested in these? No one? Then let’s get rid of it.’ There is a box of books containing a set on administrative law in the Dutch (East) Indies (published by Brill in Leiden, who are still in business). Father was probably a civil servant there. After his death, some years ago, mother didn’t have the heart to get rid of them. The books have been gathering dust in the attic ever since. No one is interested in them anymore.

And so the memory of the colonies fades away; only street names like Billiton and Borneo survive.

Frits Hoorweg, 1 February 2012