In those days - (even in these I dare say), it was a strange sight to see a white haired woman with a white skin standing outside the newly opened ANC offices in Pietermaritzburg. But there she was. Ruth Lundie was eager to be the first white person to join the ANC, the moment it was legal to do so. She and Harry Gwala were, as she put it, "of an age". And they would sit comfortably together after his release, sharing quotes from Shakespeare. The same people were in both their lives.
They had gone through a great deal, not together, but in that strange parallel existence which was apartheid. Gwala was a gentleman of his time, refined, well-read, as happy quoting Stalin as he was Shakespeare. (He was a lot of other things besides - but he was this too.) And Ruth was a lady of hers.
In her long life, she got to know many of the great, the good and the idiots of our political and ecclesiastical landscape. Many of them she taught, in Pietermaritzburg, in Lesotho or in Fort Hare in Alice. She had refused to teach under Bantu Education. She could not and she would not do it. She left for Lesotho and then for Alice.
"I remember when Verwoerd came to speak in Pietermaritzburg," she told me often, "and the lasting impression I had of him was his ice blue eyes. His soft voice and his ice blue eyes." She would shudder, "Truly demonic!"
I sat through lunch parties she used to throw, where meagre ingredients were turned into sumptious and stylish feasts. She would bring together the oddest (myself included) people for these occasions. They were aways wonderful, joyful, witty times. Politics and religion were naturally always discussed and sex noit eschewed. They were communal occasions. They were communion.
Here is her recipe for her Cheese Puffs. It really works! Don't doubt it, when the process seems to get weirder and weirder!
RUTH LUNDIE'S FRENCH CHEESE PUFFS
1 cup milk
¼ cup butter or margarine
½ t salt
Dash of pepper
1 cup flour, unsifted
1 cup shredded cheese
Heat milk and butter in a pan. Add salt and pepper. Bring to full boil. Add flour all at once, stirring over medium heat until mixture leaves the sides of the pan and forms a ball (about 2 minutes). Remove from heat. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until mixture is well blended. Beat in ½ cup of the cheese. Using about ¾ of the dough, make mounds with a tablespoon on a greased baking sheet. With remaining dough, place a small mound on top of each. Sprinkle remaining cheese on these.
Centre rack at 190˚C until lightly browned. Bake for about 25 minutes.