Are you two sisters?
Hester van der Walt
Two women, one from the Netherlands and the other one from the Free State Gold Fields, meet in a hospital hall in Bloemfontein. Fifty years later Hester tells the story of how life formed them as nurses, community workers, bakers, artists and life partners.
Are you two sisters?
In this memoir, she tells of the key moments in her life that led her to leave the strictures of her upbringing in order to find out who she was. Her decisions take her from the Free State to District Six and to Venda, to the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, to Heideveld and Hanover Park and eventually to McGregor.
Her humble story tells of the spiritual isolation of all “refugees” who leave the irreversible values of their “home” (whether physical or ideological) and find new ways to create a life. It also tells about the wonder of finding love and a partner along the way.
Hester van der Walt lives in McGregor. She writes poetry, short stories and journals. Her first book, Hester se Brood, the memoir of a self-taught artisan baker, was published by Modjaji Books in 2009. The English version Hester’s Book of Bread followed a few years later. A selection of her poems can be found in the 2011, 2012 and 2013 Anthologies of the McGregor Poetry Festival published by African Sun Press.
“Warm at heart – this is how you feel when you read Hester van der Walt’s fascinating life story. She writes “so that everyone who wants to know, today and also in the future, can see how ridiculous and petty oppression can be, and how many layers of oppression there were”. It’s the story of an Afrikaans woman’s growing awareness in the 1960s of how wrong apartheid was, that “Coloured” people are her people. Instead of falling in love with the brother of her fellow nurse, Lies, she falls for Lies. The book is a monument to love: for another woman, for your fellow man, for yourself, from 1967 in Bloemfontein to the Cape and now in McGregor. ”
“It’s a story of a terrible time. A testimony to the power of the human spirit, even in a weak, sickly body, and in the love that overcomes all. It’s full of fine observation and humor. It’s simply a lovely little book; It was as if there had always been a gap in me waiting to be filled with the knowledge of two brave women who, without fuss, unmoved, followed their hearts, kept their principles and did what their hands found to do relieve others’ suffering. ”