One day about four years later, I got a call on my mobile phone while I was giving a presentation at work. Something made me answer it anyway. It was someone I knew from the ROC – the Dutch school I had studied in after I had stopped the evening classes in the buurthuis. He told me that my teacher had died and asked if I would like to go to the funeral the next day. Again, without thinking, I said ‘yes’.
A couple of years before her death, for three mornings every week, I had contact with my teacher for about a year. On the first day of school, she stood before the class and said, ‘I’m Louise de Vries and I will be your Dutch teacher. Please address me as Louise’. I didn’t understand. I didn’t understand not because it was Dutch she spoke but because how does one call one’s teacher by her first name?