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.
i – Being Benadé
ii – Skeletons and Sleeping Dogs
iii – Mimi and Bibi
iv – Life- the day they sentenced Nelson Mandela
v – Obama 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.