‘So what…’ Mimi said, ‘I’m only 20. Mama was 19 when she had me. It’s not as if you are too young. Have you really never held a little baby in your arms and wished it was yours?’
‘God, no…! Why would I want to have a little baby? I want to be a singer.’
‘And that’s where the world comes to an end for Ilse Dijkstra, doesn’t it?’
‘Yes, to be honest …’
Singing was for a long time the very core of Ilse’s existence. Even as a toddler and her first years at school, Ilse liked listening to music and to sing along. Right from the start, it took charge of her emotional life and channelled it through the very highest and very lowest episodes for almost all of her life…
Ilse was only eight years old in 1942 when she and her Mama were put into a women’s Japanese Concentration camp in Indonesia. As was Ilse’s Papa in a men’s camp… Transported back to Holland with her family after the war, without any schooling after more than four years in a concentration camp, and coming to the end of her endurance, trying to keep up with her peers in her Fourth Year High, it was singing that saw Ilse through a massive nervous breakdown. Then, wishing to go to Louisville in America to try and become a professional singer when she was 20 years old, Ilse was told it would take at least a year to get a visa for America. So, while waiting, Ilse spent a joyful year singing and working as a nanny in France. Where, to her delight, for the first time in her life she sang with a professional band. However, it was also in France that Ilse learned to her sorrow that life wasn’t always what it appears to be. In America, singing her favourite country music and jazz, life was good, very good. Leading her gradually to the place she’d hoped for and wanted to be. Until once more, Ilse was propelled into the heartbreaking and ugly side of living, which drove Ilse back to Holland, fighting through the mud and slush of a mind-destroying depression. Then onto South Africa, and back to Holland, once more to America – Las Vegas…
Four years later, back to singing and slowly making a name for herself as a professional singer in Holland, Ilse was offered a position in Johannesburg, South Africa that she could not resist.
It was there that she met a man called Sergio Fagioli …