By Marlene Van Niekerk
Set in apartheid South Africa, Agaat portrays the original dating among Milla, a 67-year-old white girl, and her black maidservant became caretaker, Agaat. via flashbacks and diary entries, the reader learns approximately Milla's prior. existence for white farmers in Fifties South Africa was once filled with promise — younger and newly married, Milla raised a son and created her personal farm out of a swathe of Cape mountainside. 40 years later her relatives has fallen aside, the rustic she knew is close to large swap, and all she has left are stories and her proud, opposite, but affectionate father or mother. With haunting, lyrical prose, Marlene Van Niekerk creates a narrative of affection and kinfolk loyalty. Winner of the South African Sunday occasions Fiction Prize in 2007, Agaat was once translated because the method of the ladies by means of Michiel Heyns, who bought the Sol Plaatje Award for his translation.
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Mascara. Blazing Bat on my drooling mouth. My neckbrace doused with six kinds of perfume and the powder-puff creating clouds around my head. And drowned the sense in odours. Just about choked in powder that day. So then she had an excuse. So then she tipped out the drawers of the dressing table into black plastic bags. Claims she was acting on advice from Leroux, but she’s always been one step ahead of him. There must be nothing to irritate the nose, he’s supposed to have said to her. We’ve thought of that already, she said.
Because the underlying structures were not clear. I resist. Give me a chance. Let me try myself, a self-portrait, an autobiography, life and times of Milla de Wet, her place of origin, her purlieu, on Grootmoedersdrift, her hereditary home. An honest likeness. From the mirror, over my feet, along the length of my paralysed body, all the way into my head. Between my temples, above my nose, behind the frontal bone, there. In the marrowy pulp I feel for the beginning, for an inspissation, the graininess of a germ cell.
In the last photo Gaat sent, she was tiny amongst the panache plants in the front garden, eyes deep in their sockets. Almost completely grey. Had a book with her, index finger between the pages, The World’s Famous Piano Pieces. Recognised it by the dusky pink cover. Always used to sit and sing to herself from the sheet. So as not to get rusty, she used to say. Ma and her airs, Ma who dreamed: Little Jakkie de Wet, the lieder singer, famous from Hottentots-Holland to Vienna. Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen.