Uit: A Fork in the Road
“It was in the late afternoon of a blue and golden late summer’s day, Thursday 18 April, 1963, that Ingrid walked into my ordered existence and turned it upside down. Until that moment I was ensconced in an ultimately predictable life as husband and father, lecturer in literature; dreaming about a future as a writer after the early surprising shock of a novel, Lobola vir die lewe (Dowry for Life) that caught the Afrikaans literary establishment unprepared, but painfully aware of the claims and the curtailments of domesticity, the threat of bourgeois complacency, of being a small fish in a small pond. And afterwards? A world in which nothing would ever be sure and safe again, and in which everything, from the most private to the public, from love to politics, was to be exposed to risk and uncertainty and danger.
We were in the dusky, dusty front room of the rambling old house in Cheviot Place, Green Point, were Jan and Marjorie lived, perhaps the only truly bohemian artist’s house in the Cape – a group of writers gathered to plan a protest against the new censorship bill which was then taking shape in parliament. Several of us had already launched individual attacks on the proposed onslaught on the arts sponsored by a prominent right-wing parliamentarian, Abraham Jonker, whose own early forays into realist fiction had failed to live up to their initial promise, and who had become notorious for proclaiming that even Shakespeare could do with some censoring. But it was now time for organised resistance on a larger scale. The discussion was energetic and passionate, but there was nothing yet to mark the day as exceptional.
And then she came in, small and quiet, but tense, her blonde curly hair unruly, her dark eyes guarded but smouldering. The daughter of the would-be chief censor, Abraham Jonker. She was wearing a white, loose man’s shirt several sizes too big for her, and tight green pants, a size or two too small. She was smoking. Her bare feet were narrow and beautiful. I would never again meet a woman without looking at her feet.”
André Brink (29 mei 1935 – 6 februari 2015)