I love our garden with the doves and the sparrows, and my younger brothers: Albert is three years younger than I am and Nicolaas who is just a baby. He is seven years younger, he can barely speak.
I love our house and the black and white floors which I use for playing hop-scotch, and the garden with its roses and the statues, and papa's studio where I draw on bits of paper with charcoal and play with the cat while everyone is hard at work. It always smells of oil and varnish there.
I love Magdalene, the maid, who takes care of me when I am sick and who sings Antwerp songs for me and combs my hair and darns my stockings. I love horses. I love the way they canter. I sometimes give them hay and oats in the stables. Then they press their soft noses in my hand palm and snort gently. I am so happy.
I don't like to sit still
My grandparents live in Kloosterstraat near the River Scheldt. I was born in their house and I lived there until I was five years old.
When papa and mama moved into their own house in Wapper, my grandfather asked papa to paint a portrait of me, so he could always keep me with him. Papa painted it for him, it hangs in the nicest room of their house. I had another look at my younger self again, I was curious. In the portrait, I am blushing and smiling at papa while he paints me. He had to be quick, because I don't like to sit still.
"We had to really keep an eye on you", mama always says when we talk about that time, "because you were like quicksilver, you used to find a way to get out of everything". I always yell "catch me if you can" to my brothers when we play tag.