Sat Oct 22 01:44:22 SAST 2016

Chris Van Wyk's Riverlea memoir is a treasure trove

By unknown | May 24, 2010 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

THE way the radio interview went I just had to get myself Chris van Wyk's Eggs to Lay, Chickens to Hatch. Van Wyk had me captivated as I made my way to work, his sense of humour came through so effortlessly that I just had to get a copy.

Eggs to Lay, Chickens to Hatch was nowhere to be found in the bookshops in my neighbourhood. Was it because the book was so popular that it was making tills ring nonstop? I tucked in right away when I got my copy, and what a page-turner it turned out to be.

If you want to relive those weird and wonderful memories of childhood that might have been wiped clean by the passage of time, read this.

Set in Riverlea, to the west of Jo'burg, Van Wyk's memoir chronicles his trials and tribulations growing up in the coloured township in 60s and 70s.

The formative years of our lives remain a treasure island. A case in point is the gwara (teasing) sessions that Chris describes with such relish. Boys will be boys and I guess a black boy's upbringing would be incomplete without going through street-corner teasing. I feel though that Van Wyk could have done a bit more with these encounters.

In the interview he promised much more than a peep into his interaction with the family's helper, Agnes. That, Van Wyk promised, would bring a more rounded view of life in two communities kept apart by apartheid.

Agnes provided the title for Van Wyk's delightful trip down memory lane. She had an all-too-ready retort to dismiss the urchins in the Van Wyk household when they got in the way as she carried out her chores.

"I have eggs to lay and chickens to hatch," she would say whenever she wanted to be left in peace.

The book is an easy read, with a great usage of everyday language bereft of irritating pseudo-intellectualism that often does nothing but annoy and patronise the reader.


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