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His parents divorced when he was 13 years old, and they did not have contact with eachother the next forty years. This terrible situation inspired journalist Frénk van der Linden to make a television documentary about his mother and father, in which he asks them a question: do you really want to die in such bitterness?

If there is one thing Frénk is most curious about, it is the question how we, human beings, can become able to forgive people who have hurt us in any way, so we can free ourselves from the hate that poisons ourselves. Frénk: “I wish I could make people so curious about their own responsibility in conflicts with others, and so interested in what might be right and understandable in the behaviour and position of their so called enemies, that they can make peace and find a solution for their problems.”

Like many children of divorced parents, the separation of his mother and father had a big impact on Frénk. “My parents divorced when I was 13 years old, because my mother started an affair with another man. After that, my parents did not have any contact for forty quite terrible years: not one word was exchanged. Everybody involved in this story suffered: my father, my mother, the people with whom they remarried, but also me and my younger sister Désirée. When my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer, I realised we only had six months or less left to find out if we could reach reconciliation. Since I am a journalist, I thought it was a good idea to interview my old parents for a television documentary, and to ask them if they really wanted to die in such bitterness. The basis was that they did not need to meet eachother: they could express their feelings in separate interviews. I would mix all this and present it to them and to ‘the world’, as many people have personal experiences with divorce. My parents both agreed. At the end of the film my mother asks for forgiveness. But my father says: ‘I never want to see her again, Frénk. I would rather die.’ It broke my heart. But then, the viewer of the documentary sees a short sentence on the tv-screen: ‘A week before this film was broadcasted, my father and mother met and embraced eachother lovingly.’ The reunion of the two was beautiful. The last year of my mother’s life they were in close contact. After she died, my father attended the funeral with a red rose for her.”

There’s an important thing Frénk wants to tell his audience with this: “We can change our life and end the struggle with others if we really want to understand what has happened, and what our own role in the situation is or was. Therefore you only need to be curious. Being curious makes you courageous. I hope we will try harder to treat others the way we would like to be treated ourselves, so we can make the gaps that separate us disappear.”

Ninih Vang