papa dansendThis week was sort of eventful, at least for a guy with humble (read: dirt poor) beginnings such as myself. Having grown up in a house with no bathroom, an outdoors toilet, heating in only one room, with teachers who’re amazed you can read whenever they find out about your grunt background, I’m still overly conscious of my social siuation.

So it means a big deal to me when I meet the Russian consul in Belgium and we discuss the translation of a Russian novel to Dutch. I know it’s silly. It’s just a title, consul. But still, shaking hands with mr. Petrachkov is like me saying to that little boy who thought he had almost zero chance to get anywhere in this world, ‘look, little guy, you’re getting there, you’re on the way up’. So it’s not even half a step for mankind, but it’s quite a leap for this guy.

That’s why I don’t like to be called arrogant. If people would know what goes on inside my head, and where my drive comes from, they wouldn’t be so quick to call me arrogant or smug. In part I’m out to prove that my parents were victims of their situation that with some tweaks to their childhood environment they could have accomplished much more and that my dad didn’t have to kill himself if life had been a bit more fair to him. In the picture you can see him dancing along a highway in the seventies. He was full of life and full of hope. But the world being what it is, it’s easy to get kicked by the wayside, especially if you don’t get any support early on and aren’t well connected like some of us. So for those who like calling me arrogant, say that I’m full of love for my father and am out to prove what an exceptional person he was, even if the world where you need university degrees to matter didn’t recognize that.