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American Annals of the Deaf

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My Life with Kangaroos: A Deaf Woman’s Remarkable Story
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MG: Let’s for moment return to the subject of rebirth. This played quite an important role when you spoke to Eukala, I think. How do you judge this today, and what opinions do you have about it now?

DH: To say exactly what my feelings are in this matter is hard to put into words. This is always a difficult question for me, but let me say this much: The idea of having lived with Australian forebears at one time I’ve kept and it still remains alive in my mind. Somehow, it has something precious about it, although in the last analysis it is very hard to understand. On the other hand, the concept of having lived there in a former life is not an impossible one. We know nothing of the intervening time span between these two lives. It could have been a very long time, for example. And as far as the problem of another race is concerned, I am pretty convinced that the human soul makes no distinctions as to what color your skin is. I hope you understand me. More I won’t add.

In the meantime, the idea of being reborn in Australia has become familiar to me, and I have no difficulties in imagining this. Of course, I feel a slight shudder when I think of the fate of the Aboriginals of the future. When I consider the rapaciousness of large firms, for example, that have destroyed the rock paintings, which are so precious to the Aboriginals, their ’Bible’ so to speak, in order to acquire natural gas and so earn big money, I feel hurt by it all and I feel quite sick. And then there is the question of whether it would be good to live in Australia after such a rebirth. And who knows then whether my soul will go on living in Australia? This is merely wishful thinking, nothing more.

But there’s one thing in all this, which I feel to be important. And that is that our soul is indestructible. This is something in which I place great confidence. And which also inspires me to wonderful fantasies.

There is a dream, which I would like to tell you about. It has nothing really to do with the transmigration of souls, but nevertheless, for me, it has something to do with this subject.

I had been waiting at that time for two months or so for a letter from Mrs. Schwallbach, because I wanted to know whether my kangaroo friend, Jacqueline was still alive. While I was waiting rather miserably for news, I dreamed that I had died from sadness. ‘Am I really dead?’ I asked in my dream. Everywhere I looked was incredibly light, in fact it was so bright that I could hardly recognise the details of the things around me. My soul rose to heaven, but still in my form as a woman. I found myself moving towards a cloud, but as I approached, I saw that it was not a cloud but an earthy patch that floated there defying gravity. I could discern very small slabs of rock on this tiny island, and on one of these leaned a young man. He held his head low. I went up to him and as I did so, he raised his head. “What are you looking for here?” he asked. I told him that I was looking for Jacqueline and that I didn’t know whether she had died or not. His answer to this was rough and curt. “Why don’t you go and look for God?”

I remember feeling so utterly shocked that it was as if I had been hit. This is what my bad conscience did for me. I left that place as quickly as I could and returned to the infinite brightness. It was then that I woke up. I believe I wrote about this in my book.

MG: Have you ever thought or perhaps even dreamed about how it is when our souls take their passage?

DH: Oh yes, I’ve concerned myself about this on many an occasion. I’ve even thought that it would be better for the soul to be extinguished into nothing for a time, so that it would not be bored in eternity. Then it can begin again from the beginning, firstly in a large amount of watery warmth all around and then with the noise of the heart and intestines until such time as I emerge as another person to be laid in the cradle. I had some idea of this myself when I once went through an operation. There were endless preparations – at least, that’s the way I felt at the time – and finally I was placed under anesthetic. But then I had to wait again. ‘How long is it going on for?’ I asked myself. Confused, I looked around the dimly-lit room. “Is everything over…?” I felt my body in various places, and came across a thick bandage. Yes, indeed! The two-hour operation was already over without my having noticed it. Everything had happened within a split second! I imagine it’s rather similar between death and rebirth. Our souls lose their consciousness of time. Perhaps this is what is conceived as eternity.

And when I am born again, then, of course, I am not ‘Doris’ anymore, and I wouldn’t have the slightest idea of who I was before. Perhaps I wouldn’t even know that I had lived a life before. The truth is that one can’t say more, because one doesn’t know whether one will be born as a man or a woman. In addition, one doesn’t know either where one will be born; this is just unpredictable. It’s just my deepest wish that in my case it will be in Australia!

MG: Dear Doris, may I ask you about your disability with regard to your many activities – was your handicap a constant call upon you to overcome obstacles? Did your activities and interests help you to make it easier for you to deal with your problem?

DH: My personal achievements in my various activities have helped me a lot to overcome my disability. When I was still young, I didn’t have very much confidence in myself. In the fields of art and in science it seemed that the stakes were too high for me to aspire to; I couldn’t imagine myself ever attaining anything with my lack of hearing. Added to this, was my mother’s repeated advice not to take up these activities. She used to say that those who could hear normally would be in a much more superior position than me in both areas. The sciences, she averred, would be ‘a thousand times’ higher than that which I could ever attain, and I can still remember clearly that she said so much.

At that time, we were concerned about my self-tuition, since I was too handicapped to attend a university course of study. My desire for an education in the face of all this was still very strong and I have already mentioned this. Finally, that I actually won through and achieved success was a great satisfaction and justified my very hard work to get there. But, as you’ve implied, the call to self-discipline was a daily task!

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