11 May 2018.
Never mind the previous post. Doing his biography is still problematic. He doesn’t want this or that in it, why am I not interested in so- and -so, why don’t I do a bit more research into what Mozambique was like in 1974, because that is important too, and I must talk to person X before I go on. In the end it comes down to whether it’s his book or mine. Will we end up fighting after all?
Then I have lunch with a new acquaintance, John Clarke, who writes about Xolobeni, the mining project in the Eastern Cape where a rapacious bunch of officials have sold out their community to equally rapacious corporate interests. Fortunately for me, he is interested in my work, too and he smiles when I tell him it’s about Ivan. “You mean you’ll tell the story of your romance?” he asks. “That will be interesting.”
Honest to God, I hadn’t looked at it that way. I had wanted to tell Ivans story. I have written rather enough about myself. But John Clarke’s remark brings up that other question I have been asked time and time again: “How did you meet?” I had always found it a bit irritating but yes, maybe it is about that, too. How does a feminist journalist from Amsterdam end up with an old fashioned comrade from Chatsworth? I say old fashioned because in the early days I found him such a traditional gentleman, and for that reason also very cute. I would be like ‘women’s rights are human rights’ and he would say yes ‘women are good, we must protect them and care for them.’ I found it adorable and I think he found me interesting.
We have been together for close to 30 years now, a half Dutch, half Indian-South African couple, initially a bit underground, later fully established in a new country. We lived in Yeoville during the years of change, with a Security Police van parked nearby; spent long periods in Chatsworth with a loving family and uncles who, in the furniture business, helped us to set up house. We have been in Amsterdam with my old communist father, and in France, first looking for the murderers of Dulcie September (see a previous book about that) then taking a break in a village with my freethinker artist mother.
In the early nineties, he did admin and bookkeeping for the ANC, on the 12th floor in Shell House, Johannesburg, for two thousand Rands a month.
Then suddenly I was ‘Madam Acting Commissioner’ for a bit, when he was, ever so briefly, a big shot at the South African Revenue Service. And now I write as he is accused, once again, of illegal activities by the South African police.
“Yes, that is what you must do,” says Maggie, the publisher. “Write the story of your love.”