The Layered Life of Tok-Tokkie

A tok-tokkie in Afrikaans is a dung beetle. Throughout my life I have answered to many names: Therese was my formal name, used mostly when I was in trouble, my mother called me Tessa but the rest called me Tok. It may have started as a tease because I took seriously my nanny’s threats about the tokoloshe, the African equivalent of the bogeyman. Be that as it may, Tok is what my family still calls me.

Tok or, its diminutive, Tokkie is the nickname by which I am known to my family. Tok-Tokkie is also Afrikaans for dung beetle. And since Tok has done a fair bit of emotional dung pushing in her 65 years, I thought it apt to introduce a little double entendre in the title of a book with stories from my life. I write about physical and emotional landscapes. I write about the places where I have lived and people I have met. I write about my role as daughter, mother, wife, teacher and writer. I write about the long road away from Calvinism and racism.

Table of Contents:

Opening – a chronological summary of the eight major relocations, which form the backdrop to the story of my life

To be Tok – growing up in Afrikaner South Africa of the 40’s and 50’s.

iBeing Benadé

iiSkeletons and Sleeping Dogs

iii – Mimi and Bibi

ivLife- the day they sentenced Nelson Mandela

vObama Bulbs for a Mandela Moment

Talking Tok – learning languages and communicating in the global village

i – A Personal History of Afrikaans

ii – Opening Doors

Teacher Tok – stories about my teaching career in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), England, Canada, Brazil, Pakistan, Indonesia and the US

i – What I thought I taught

ii – The accidental Teacher

Women’s World – tales about myself as a woman and my experiences with women and women’s issues in different cultures.

i – Vive la Canadienne – getting an Indian visa in Islamabad

ii – Local Girls and Foreign Boys – on loving and leaving

Traveling Tok – journalistic pieces about travels in Europe, North and South America, South and South-East Asia

i - Still Goan After all  these Years

ii -   Mysore, a primary Source

iii - To Hunza

iv -  Basecamp Goegevonden

Postings – reflections on life in the diplomatic lane, including three evacuations from Pakistan

i - Packaged for Canada

Writing Tok – researching Kites of Good Fortune and Bluestocking.

i – Rags to Riches

ii - Tracking Bertha Stoneman

Textile Tok – on collecting and discovering the textiles of South and South East Asia

i – Textile Trip to Gujarat

ii – Textiles II to Cirebon

Total Wordcount: 61,370

The Goal of the project

Many of the pieces exist in various states of readiness - from concept to draft to finished samples. The aim is to spend a time of sustained writing to bring them all up to par.