De Geschiedenislerares (The History Teacher)

‘The History Teacher’ is set between 1950 and 2000. Jacco, a young Dutch student moves into a relationship with an older Indonesian woman, Sarina, at the time the Netherlands has to give up its former south-east Asian colony. While their affair develops, Jacco learns eye-opening details of Indonesia’s history, the colonial era, and the population’s long struggle for independence from the Netherlands. He also learns that Sarina is an Indonesian intelligence agent. And he discovers that his father is not the average manager at the head office of a large Dutch/English oil company with drilling operations in Indonesia—he is their intelligence chief who was and is involved in secret dealings and in armed operations aimed at weakening first Indonesian president Sukarno’s position and anti-western world actions. He accepts that he was lured into a “honey trap” but, much in love, forgives Sarina. Eventually the affair is discovered and comes to an abrupt end; his Indonesian lover disappears from his life. Jacco remains obsessed, though, with Sarina as well as the affairs of her struggling independent country. Refused an entrance visa, he illegally enters Indonesia, but is discovered and extradited. Jacco’s continuing exploits come to no avail until years later he manages to locate Sarina by chance: on a prison island where she was interred in 1965 after resisting (now president) Suharto’s coup against Sukarno’s rule. Jacco, still on the unwanted list, again finds a way to illegally enter the country and uses bribery to be allowed a last meeting with Sarina. Meanwhile Jacco had gotten involved with Indonesian student groups opposing the Suharto regime in Jakarta. During a third illegal trip to Indonesia, now to support his friends, he is arrested once more and this time he is convicted for supporting terrorism. Jacco receives a life sentence and ends up on an isolated prison island somewhere in the Indonesian archipelago, not knowing that Sarina is spending the remaining of her life in a different prison colony just scores of sea miles away.