Vertaling (red. BonikBarta):
Bernadette, the cyclist
Her golden hairs are cropped short. Seeing the lady in white shirt and orange scarf, posing an easy air, you won’t understand how much she has seen and been thru. Yes, Bernadette Speet is 58 years old, and, has been on pedals for 38 long years. This Dutch cyclist has been twice here in Bangladesh. Days ago, she wrapped her second phase of biking around the southern and eastern districts.
Bernadette started pedaling in 1976. An old one-gear bicycle and backpack accompanied her when she started roaming in and around her native Netherlands. A year later, in the summer of 1977, she started for Belgium. Prior to that very first overseas trip, her city-bike was stolen. Though frustrating, the incident didn’t deter her. She rented a one-gear bike and pedaled for Belgium. Topsy-turvy Belgian roads were not a good experience. For the Dutch Bernadette, 30c was too hot a temperature to bear. Sunshine burnt her skin. She decided to say goodbye to cycling after that trip. Once at home, it didn’t take time for her to forget the difficulties. During her next holiday, she got out to pedal again. This time her bikes tires kissed the Scottish soil. Thus began a life-long addiction which is life-changing also.
Bernadette has turned and tasted a lot of the world. The nature has kept its beauties hidden under various layers, so is Bernadette’s experience. She likes to travel alone. When she was 16 years old, Bernadette had a train journey with a friend. There she noticed that, having a companion constantly hanging around spoils the tune. So, while in a trip, Bernadette’s only companion is her bike. By 1989, Bernadette was done with Europe and looking somewhere else. That year, she biked in Turkey, starting another phase of her life-long passion. So far Bernadette has traveled a lot of the world. Still, the dream and thirst that got her out of home when she was 18 years old, is vivid in this green women’s mind. Biking around the world was not always a happy experience for her. There are terrifying experiences also. But she faced and managed all, believing in the motto that whatever comes on the way, a cyclist will never dismount his or her feet from the pedals.
Bernadette likes to do her chores herself. She prefers to paint walls and bake breads alone. Another identity that glitters beside her name is her writing-self. Also, she is a professional photographer. Bernadette has written her traveling experiences. This time, she plans to write on Bangladesh. She plans to hold an exhibition of her camera-works. May be you’d see Dhaka’s block-print artists there.
Bernadette is a social worker. She likes to work on issues which are tough and hard to deal with. Yes, she is a tough woman herself. On 10th December, she left for home. Happy, her pet is waiting for her.
This interview is printed on the woman’s page ‘Shorbojoya” which means ‘all conquering one’ in BonikBarta Bangladesh newspaper on December 15th, 2014