Every few years, people come to me on the trail of the Afrikaans poet Ingrid Jonker. They are film-makers, journalists, academics, hagiographers and biographers, and they want to know what I remember about Ingrid. Their questions indicate an obsession with Jonker and with the details of her life and death, although the sense of fixation they convey may be merely the necessary fuel for their researches, driving them to uncover the truth. They are uniformly interested in Ingrid’s famous death, and ask a disproportionate number of questions on that topic. Almost all of them have approached me with the assumption that Jack left Lesley for Ingrid, or that their marriage ended as a result of Ingrid’s arrival on the beach at Clifton. They see the world as though Ingrid were at the middle of it (which, for them, she is) and after they leave, they construct stories that view Ingrid’s life through the lens of her death.

Towards the end of 1957, a few months before we left for White River, Ingrid Jonker gave birth to her daughter Simone. The facts suggest that Jack only became involved with Ingrid considerably after our journey to White River, which took place in April of 1958. I had never met her before our departure for Luitingh’s Guest Farm.


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