Woman of the Ashes by Mia Couto

Woman of the Ashes

Mia Couto

A tale of two madnesses which defile and condemn a love relationship from the start - the madness of the pompous but finally inept white colonialists and the madness of tribes haunted by earth, water, blood and old hatreds. The descent into insanity is classic tragedy- as reality loses its grip, the more nightmareish it becomes. For a nightmare, it feels horribly close to real African history.

Extract

I entered the village stark naked, and it was as if I had come to the wrong place. Nkokolani was deserted. More than deserted, it gave the impression of never having been lived in. I screamed, I wept, I ranted and raved.
Little by little, the women began to rush toward me. 'Why are you screaming, daughter?' they asked. I didn't know how to answer. Most of the time, we shout in order not to listen to ourselves. 'Why are you crying so much?' they asked again. And, once again, they received no reply. When you return from the dead, you have no words.
'Let's take you home.'
That's what war does: People never come home again. The home that was once ours - that home dies, no one was ever born there. And there's no bed, no womb, there isn't even a ruin to anchor our memories in some ground.

Parallels
  • March by Geraldine Brooks
  • Absolution by Patrick Flanery
  • Nanjing 1937: a Love Story by Ye Zhaoyan

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