Swimming in Stories
The River of My Life
by Rosanna Hille
Here is a new bio, this time to come from Canada published by the author, sub-titled ‘The River of My Life’. If I thought it was going to be another housewife’s memory lane, I was greatly surprised. And I was humbled by the incredible expanse of the author’s story, as her life takes her from South Africa to Denmark to Canada, ending up during her mature years visiting the world’s impoverished areas for a Charity registered with the United Nations
Although Rosanna Hille came from an upper middle class Danish family, she was born in South Africa where her father had moved and where he had met his wife, Rosanna’s mother, who came from German Jewish stock. The family returned to Denmark at the end of World War Two.
The first section of the book covers the ins and outs marked by dates with brief bios of family relations in Denmark and Germany. The next years for Rosanna who now had two brothers born in Denmark, appear to have been idyllic on the family farm estate which her father managed for her grandfather.
When she was 9 years old, the family moved to Canada. So the second part of this interesting biography begins. Driving with their belongings, the family crossed Canada towards a city called Terrace, where they settled. From then on Rosanna’s Canadian life seemed to flourish as a student in Terrace, followed by studies at the University of British Columbia which took her to Vancouver where she seemed to be prepped in showing signs of being a poet.
The following years may have seemed normal to Rosanna, but it struck me that she and her friends were examples of the first generation of youth to be living with freedom never experienced before on such a mass scale. It was not an example of extreme hippiedom, but maybe became the ‘freedom road’ for young people from that generation on. Rosanna did not just have a boyfriend in the old-fashioned way, but someone with whom she lived and later married. Poetry was her thing which was being taken seriously at the time. Instead she and her husband seemed to be ever adventurous with trips to Europe. She then found God.
In fact, it was her husband who discovered this new creative way of being in contact with a life force in the form of a spiritual exercise which originated in Indonesia. The organisation for this practice was known as Subud and had spread quite quickly since its introduction to the West in 1957. Inadvertently, although attending the many international meetings for the organisation of Subud, Rosanna became involved in representing an international umbrella organisation for small charities run by Subud members. This led to her presence at the United Nations in New York where the charity she headed known as Susila Dharma was registered. This work took her to travel from South America to Africa to Asia and Europe. The accounts of her visits are quite in depth and I did wonder whether these accounts were taken from official reports as they seem heavy, lacking that liveliness which fills the stories of her younger days. Currently she is now looking forward to a career in writing.
This book is packed with stories not just of her life but those of her parents and her children. It is an amazing read in that it does not seem to be a planned life that is being narrated. Yet, somehow, it does look as if the author was led on a specific path that fitted her abilities and talents like a glove.