The day had gone well. We had made it to a friend’s wedding in the nation’s capital: Amsterdam.
I hadn’t seen her for six years. My daughter whom she had cradled as a baby, was now a feisty seven-year old. The bride was thrilled to see us, as we were to see her. Her wedding had been an intimate ceremony; beautiful, mostly family with a freshly-married husband dotting on her, and a mum regaling the rest of us with tales of her youth. The food was delicious, the music grande.
It was held in the afternoon on a boat in Amsterdam. It was scheduled to end at midnight, but we had to tear ourselves away from the festivities earlier by 9.00pm. To stay over at a hotel would have been quite costly, so we took the direct train from Amsterdam Amstel to S’Hertogenbosch, and sat on the metallic bench waiting for the train to Tilburg. I talked to my daughter, willing for time to go fast, humoring her with stories and jokes. We were exhausted, it had been a long day of merriment, my high heels felt uncomfortably tight, the soles of my feet screamed.
Without warning, a man came by and plopped himself beside us. He joined our conversation without an invite. He was chatty, short with blond spiky hair, dressed in black, chewing one sandwich, the other in the translucent paper he held in his hand.
“She can have one,” he offered.
“No, we are okay,” I responded impulsively, uncomfortably aware that he was shuffling closer to us on the tiny bench.
He said he was a software engineer, he earned good money, giving a figure of tens of thousands of euros a month. I was perplexed. I thought it strange of him, either he was lying or he was stoned. The Dutch never talk openly about money, they never flaunt their worth…they are known to be one of the most frugal nationalities in the world. I took a good look at him; he squished his white-face, smiling and looking pixie-like. He had small hands, weather beaten shoes, and a leather jacket.
“So, what are you doing out so late?” I enquired curiously.
“I went out walking in Utrecht,” he said abit jumpily, “I like walking around the city.”
He seemed a little weird, asocial, lacking in common courtesy as many brilliant geeks are bound to be; unruffled by their shabby looks, their distant thoughts always occupied with some scientific calculations. I wondered if he would assist in the technical aspect of my blog, arranging it and making it more presentable. He gave us his email and said he was willing to help; suddenly labeling us his small family, sharing that he had no one in the world, his brother had died years ago in an accident, his parents were long gone, he was 50 years old and all he had was a good job, a huge empty house and a broken down porsche laying in the garage.
“We can be together as soon as possible, we are a family now….my two wives,” he gushed contentedly, as he brought out a sheet of paper with tobacco that he begun to roll up.
“Please don’t smoke,” I said quietly, “We are allergic to nicotine.”
“Oh..?” he remarked, with raised brows, returning the paper bag to his pocket, “I have quit.”
“When did you quit?” I asked.
“Just now,” he replied, sort of comically. I laughed at his humor.
I noted his contact details and full name, and put a mental note to google him. I had lingering doubts about whom he said he was. I was glad when our train arrived. I took my daughter’s hand and led her into the train, climbing the stairs to the top bunker. He followed closely, slapping my left butt cheek as we climbed, clasping and giving it a firm squeeze. I was startled and forcefully pushed his hand away.
Tilburg is not so far from Den Bosch, and as we rode in the train, he ran to the toilets saying that he needed to pee and then came back, panting like he had run a marathon.
“Ah…I feel much better,” he sighed in relief.
When we reached our stop, and the throng of people got off the train alongside us, he was walking close by. I expected him to say goodbye and be on his way, but he was determined to come to my house. I stopped in my tracks and looked at him with narrowed eyes.
“I don’t know you,” I said sternly, “I don’t invite strangers to my house.”
“Then come to mine, the both of you,” he said.
“No, we have to go home, it is very late,” I retorted, trying to shake him off.
“I will come with you,” he said.
“No,” I said, “You can’t come, I really don’t know you, I have just met you, I cannot invite you to my place.”
I quickly walked to a nearby ATM, I had to get some cash for a taxi. I was certain that the buses had stopped running, it was already 12 midnight.
He was insistent, tagging along, “Okay then, let your daughter come with me,” he said.
I removed my bank card from the machine and glared at him. He stepped back, shriveling infront of my eyes, looking like a small boy, his plumbeous grey eyes displaying a silent plea like he was begging for his life.
“If I’m not coming to your place, how can you ask if my daughter can come??!!” I snarled angrily.
I felt safe that people were around. I was frightened, confused and wondered what sort of man he was. I briskly walked across the road, holding my daughter’s hand, and jumped into the first taxi available though there were a few people moving towards it. I glanced at him from the safety of the taxi. He remained rooted in position, standing in the shadows, behind the electricity box, his eyes fixed on our taxi. As the driver put the meter on and drove, I kept on glancing behind, hoping that he was not going to follow us, and was glad that he didn’t.
I sent him an email that night, I was upset and offended at his suggestion, how dare he? He had just met us and in 20 minutes he had behaved in the most disturbing way possible. I asked him if he was a psycho.
I googled his full name and email the next day, and was astounded at his impressive 8-page CV, going all the way back from 1985. This man was indeed whom he said he was; a software engineer who had even scored big contracts with regional organizations such as NATO, leading banks and universities, huge airlines like KLM.
He didn’t respond to my email until a few days later, stating that he thought I wouldn’t contact him.
I asked him whether he was attracted to children. He admitted, yes, that he was, even going further to state that in the past, he had a four year-long relationship with a Dutch mother and her 6-year old child, doing three-somes. He wondered if it was new to me, whether I found it strange, admitting that he was ‘happy to be talking to me about it.’
I said that was strange, abominable, taboo, a criminal offense; typing back that those who did such things were perverts, that children had to be protected by parents, and by society. He argued back that it was only criminal if done in public, but not criminal when done in private.
I was stunned. Chilled to the bone by his shocking confession. I wondered what sort of mother would subject her young child to all that. I wondered where the girl was, and how she had been mentally and psychologically scarred by these two irresponsible and heartless adults. Her childhood stolen.
He talked of it as natural, as sweet, as enjoyable…throwing in words as sucking, licking and sticking, words that should be used when eating an icecream, but were instead being used in descriptions of a vile relationship with a minor. I told him that it was not natural, that he should be behind bars, seek treatment as soon as possible, to unwind his thought process from such things; be subjected to electric shock therapy, or an exorcism of demons that had assailed him, so that he would behave like a normal human being, and if all that failed, he should seek to be castrated.
More than that, I was stung by the realization that paedophiles lived, walked and breathed in the same spaces as we did, that they were professionals, highly-educated and respected folk who worked in the day, but in the night hunched over their laptops, fantazising over naked children and touching themselves.
While child rights organization Terre Des Hommes had worked hard to ensure that paedophiles in western countries who used cyberspace to prey on children in poor countries would be jailed, black-listing them, naming and shaming them and handing over their dossiers to Interpol, through the help of a computer simulation code-named Sweetie from the Philiphines; paedophiles in their own back yard, right here in the Netherlands had run amok, brazenly forming advocacy groups, rooting for the formation of a political party, demanding their rights and groping people in public spaces, asking to be allowed to prey on children.
How dare they? What about the rights of the children? At what point did their urges or feelings hit up against the wall of the law. They had become so bold, that I feared for children. The tolerance and liberality permitted in this country had mutated and bred an unfortunate mentality of unrestricted sexual debauchery. The buck had to stop here…especially when it came to children.