Jacqueline Berg

Story of a prisoner

At Home – (2004)

‘Despite the many disappointments in my life, I have never given anybody the blame for all that has happened, even God himself.  It was a combination of circumstances.’

 

Religion

“I learned early on in life that God had many names and faces.  My father was a catholic  Creole and my mother a Hindustan’s Muslim.  When I was 13 and emigrated to the Netherlands, my family members thought that I should become a Muslim.

A family ought to have a religion was the thinking behind this.  I then became a Muslim and had a circumcision.  I did it out of formality, not from my heart.  I could never call God – Allah.

I did not feel Muslim, neither did I feel Catholic.  I went to catholic church services, the muslin Ramadan and celebrated the Diwali with my extended Hindu family.

 

Passport

When I was 16, I went off the rails and  got into problems with the police and the law.  I was given a four-month prison sentence.  I was not allowed to finish my schooling.  No company would employ me as I had a police record.

My dark skin color, no doubt played a role too.  Coming from Suriname around that time, you were written-off as someone who just was a troublemaker.  As well as that, I had no identification or passport.  I was acknowledged by my father but was not registered in the Dutch system.

All attempts to find my father were fruitless.

 

Upright

I felt left out.  It was as if I lived between the wharf and the ship.  I had lost my self-esteem and developed a dislike for society.  Not the people in general but the authorities.  I noticed more and more that some of them had double moral standards.  They looked down upon me whilst they themselves did not appear to go by the rules.

People with good jobs and high positions did not appear to be so upright and decent as society had dictated.

At the same time, they said that their marriages were sacred but on the other hand, they had children born out of wedlock.  This happened even with white Dutch citizens so how could they judge me  when their own consciences were not so clean.  I thought, to hell with you all and chose my own version of society and rules.

 

Actions

I have an all or nothing type of character as well as  being determined, stubborn and obstinate. I chose to live on the fringe of society and made my own rules.

Standards and values meant, for me, that I should function within society with a clean conscience, without sticking by the rules.

I was regularly sent back to prison now and again but could resolve issues by bribery and false witnesses.  I was often arrested but was quickly let go because of lack of evidence.

I never stopped to reflect the consequences of my actions and I was not afraid of God’s punishment.  God is love and I knew he would not punish me for my deeds.

 

Prison record

When my girlfriend became pregnant, I visited her parents for to get to know them. It seemed to go well but later I heard that the girl’s father had enquired about me.

When he heard that I had a prison record, he thought that it was better that my girlfriend should have an abortion.

There didn’t seem to be any future prospects and our child could not get a proper upbringing.  I resented her for letting her family have so much influence on her.  After all, the child was something beautiful between us.

My heart broke and I said to her if you let your parents lead your life, we will never have a life together for ourselves.  We would be better off not seeing each other again.

The next morning, I heard that she had committed suicide.

 

Hope

I walked around for years feeling guilty.  One carries a cross constantly.  When it became too much for me, I resorted to drugs, a perfect way to suppress your conscience.

Years later, when I was in love again, I began to feel new hope.  My girlfriend became pregnant and I felt like living again.  We did nice things together like decorating the baby’s room.  One afternoon, I got a phone call to say that  my girlfriend was hit by a car and was killed instantly.  She was six months pregnant at the time.  When I heard the news, I thought immediately about my other girlfriend who had committed suicide!  I had the idea that I was carrying misfortune with me and that I would lose everyone that I loved.

 

Drugs

I got into more problems with the police and was involved with various criminal groups in the city.  Since I had nothing to lose, I made myself available.  If something violent needed to be done, I was available.  I challenged the police by using firearms and hoped that they would kill me.

I did not want to live any more.  It wasn’t that I had enough of living, it was that I just did not want to live any more.  My reason for living was taken away.

Years later, when I was still alive, I was on hard drugs.  I just wanted to destroy myself.  I couldn’t take an overdose because my faith would not allow me to take my own life.  The Christian belief is that God and only God has the right to take your life away. In the Islamic faith, it actually praises you for taking your own life.  That earns you a place in paradise.

I gave away my possessions and started to live on the streets.  I closed myself off from others and had only superficial contact.

Now and again I would ask “How long more to go God?” I hoped every day was my last.

 

Rehabilitation

I felt cut-off from life.  For years I slept on the street.  I was dirty and neglected but I did not care about my appearance.  I was dead on the inside.  The world where I lived meant nothing more to me and nothing could touch me.  Some people said: “God has a purpose for you and that is why you are still alive”.  But I could not accept this.  I knew that God existed but not for me.

Three years later I was placed in a rehabilitation project for drug users with a criminal record.  I was 37 and decided to give it a go.  I didn’t have a problem with quitting drug-taking but my feelings were non-existent.  I read a lot about enlightenment, gurus, angels, and near death experiences.

I had the opportunity to partake in a course on positive thinking.  I was very skeptical at first.  The information was quite good and the teachers seemed very nice. Through the lessons, I got an insight into the good and bad sides of my character.

 

Coldness

We were allowed to go to the Brahma Kumaris Spiritual Academy.  And from there, we had lessons from Jacqueline Berg in spirituality and meditation. A world for me started to open; a world that I had no knowledge of before.

I find working on oneself most rewarding.  It is my goal to rediscover my old personality.

The coldness from inside seems to be thawing out gradually.   I seem to be longing for my own purity to come out. I want to find my roots again.  I think that I am so tired all these years because I have lived without knowing myself.  My questions on life seem to be answered and that gives me an inner rest.

This spiritual study seems to help me improve my weaknesses.

 

God

I realize that if I don’t keep an appointment, I feel uncomfortable.  At this time, my life seems to have taken a turn with the help of God.  I have more energy and power which makes me feel that I can achieve anything.  I knew God well because of my different religious backgrounds but I had lost faith in him.

With the Brahma Kumaris, God is very much in the foreground.  There is no person in-between.  I like it that way.  I have a friend and companion.  The feelings of desperation and loneliness which I had for years are slowly disappearing.

 

At home

It is not as if you see the light from one day to the next, but you can reach your goals in small steps.  I have more control in my life concerning my daily routines.  I used to act as if I had blinkers on but now I have learned to react from a place of spiritual awareness.  To be loving is the first basic rule and respect follows that concept.  I am on a special journey and feel that I am getting closer to my goals.  It gives me great confidence for the future.

The last time I was meditating, I felt as if I had come home.  It was an indescribable feeling.  I sat there with such peace in my heart that years of suppressed tears rolled down my cheeks.

© Jacqueline Berg