My big sister still needs me


MOMMY’S blue jacket: The sisters’ precious heirloom in Perdita van Dijk du Bois’s Elke Pot, an Afrikaans-language radio play.

WHAT WOULD YOU say to your only sibling if you knew you were dying? This week’s sensitively crafted Afrikaans-language radio play is a tale of sibling love, disappointment, and making good in the precious time one is allotted. Premised on the marriage idiom that every pot has a lid, Perdita van Dijk du Bois casts the relationship of two women, Eloise (Rolanda Marais) and Martie (Daneel van der Walt) under the loupe. They’re sisters. One of them married a man the other loved. The other remained unmarried.

But this is not a predictable bit of fluff of a story – not from the outset, at least. Cancer is tossed into the mix which forces the relationship between the sisters to be thrown into sharp relief. It becomes a tale less about the protocols and social expectations of marriage than one of the beauty of dying in the gentle hands of Hospice and holding on to the relics of the past that matter. It’s a tale about the dreadful ordeal of letting a sibling go as it is about making peace with the horrors of a medical situation gone rogue.

And what do you do in the face of this kind of horror? Do you weep all the time? Of course not. The characters are written with a winding clarity and sense of authenticity. It’s here where you find stark hilarity amid the raw tears, and pragmatics in the face of familial catastrophe.

And with all this under its proverbial belt, it’s a muscular work with a strong heart. Featuring snippets of Chopin etudes woven between the scenes, it is a tale of great and robustly complicated sibling love. It’s not a skiet, skop en donder kind of narrative, and you know how it ends as soon as it begins, but the strength of the narrative threads and the poetry in the context will keep you glued to the wireless.

  • Elke Pot (Every Pot) is written by Perdita van Dijk du Bois. Directed by Ronèl Geldenhuys, and featuring technical input by Cassie Lowers, it is performed by Susanne Beyers, Rolanda Marais, Johann Nel and Daneel van der Walt. It debuts on RSG on December 20 at 8pm, will be rebroadcast on December 25 at 1am in Radio Sonder Grense’s Deurnag programme, and is also available on podcast.

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