Maria Singer

How strange: my brother, Albert Singer (everyone called him Bertie) mentioned a Anna Magenta in one of his letters from America and that very same garden. Of course it was much later then, I think the year must have been ‘51 or ’52 and this Anna Magenta was an elder woman giving piano lessons. Bertie took his daughter Sofia there every tuesday and thursday, never trusting her to go alone to that neighbourhood, and they used to sit in the garden waiting for it to be time to go up to Mrs. Magenta ‘s place, three stories high in an old decripit building. There was always someone shouting or argueing, a rough smell of alcohol and decay pervading the building. Bertie didn’t like taking Sofia there, but he couldn’t afford a teacher in a better neighbourhood,Sofia were interupted by another incident from downstairs, and they would return undisturbed to the Chopin etude at hand. Bertie mentioned there was something very sad about her too, but she never spoke to him about her private life or history and there’s no report of a husband in his letters. The Chinese garden stands out as a refuge, a floodgate of sorts, bringing Sofia and Bertie from the safety of their home to Mrs Magenta’s proud little realm of music. and he did write very positively about this Mrs Magenta, praising her as a wise and solemn woman keeping up high moral standards in such an unlikely environment. “Nada”, she just said, whenever her methodic remarks to.

Oh, I should tell you: I am Maria Singer, Bertie’s sister, we got seperated in 1937, when Bertie and his wife Eleanora fled to America. My husband Maurice Blankert convinced me to stay behind in Antwerp, assuring me he could save me from whatever dangers were coming from the east. How very wrong he was, the poor thing. But I don’t want to go into that now, I’m a very old woman, it is hard for me to write to you in English as it is, and I want to enjoy the tea Irma brings me now in this awkward square cubicle assigned to me, of the home here on Linkeroever. “Bloementuil” they call it, and that even isn’t correct Dutch for something meaning “bouquet of flowers”.[dv]