Agaat by Marlene Van Niekerk

By Marlene Van Niekerk

Set in apartheid South Africa, Agaat portrays the original dating among Milla, a 67-year-old white lady, and her black maidservant became caretaker, Agaat. via flashbacks and diary entries, the reader learns approximately Milla's previous. lifestyles for white farmers in Nineteen Fifties South Africa used to be packed 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 kinfolk has fallen aside, the rustic she knew is near to large switch, and all she has left are thoughts and her proud, opposite, but affectionate mum or dad. 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 approach of the ladies by means of Michiel Heyns, who acquired the Sol Plaatje Award for his translation.

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I planted the idea of the great clearing-out in her head. Only the bookshelf from Jakkie’s room she carried in here to hold the extra reading matter. She selected all the books in it. And the television she brought in from the living room and took away again later because the contents would upset me, I ask you. Perhaps she was the one who was upset. There are already too many things happening in this room, she said, without our having to make space for People of the South and The Bold and the Beautiful.

She started to unpack the whole pile, fixing my eyes in the mirror. Ounooi, you’re making me late now. I don’t see the Fair Ladys, wait, there’s one here. Fine Foods for Fine Occasions. It was the last magazine down. I forced her eyes down, still further down. There was the shiny black box now, open to the eye. She couldn’t follow my glance in the mirror, had to turn round to see better where I was looking. Tsk, she said and shook her head, no. Yes, I said with my eyes. She took out the contraption.

I was young. And it was not the first entry. The real beginning of it all I never wrote down. Never felt up to revisiting those depths. Not after I’d found out what I’d brought upon myself. Where, in any case, does something like that begin? Your destiny? Where does it begin? The ‘dedication’ I thought up much later, when things were going well for a while, just after Jakkie’s birth. Then I inscribed it in the front of the first booklet on the inside of the cover. Date and all, 14 September 1960.

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