Made of brown leather, monogrammed with the initials L.J.M. and dating from the 1930s, the suitcase was found under the bed of Muriel Leyson at the time of her death in Johannesburg in the 1970s. Tightly packed inside were almost a thousand letters spanning a period of ninety years.
Muriel Leyson had been a surrogate mother to my father, stepping in to care for him at vulnerable moments in his life. As she and her two sisters became frail in their old age my father reciprocated and took care of them. When they died he kept the suitcase. During visits to South Africa I would open it up, smell its mustiness, extract and read a few letters, and long for a chance to uncover its potential of stories and ghostly lives. In 2017, after my father’s death I brought it to Belgium.
Published in Forum+ summer 2019 edition. Read further on the Forum+ website
Read the editorial by Leen Engelen (dutch)