The Other Side of Silence by Andre Brink

The Other Side of Silence

Andre Brink

Set in German South West Africa a hundred years ago, this is a story of man's inhumanity to woman. The viciousness of the abuse is portrayed in a stark way and against this bleak background the rare incidents of compassion and the descriptions of the beauty of the desert shine with great power.


She hasn't always looked like this. There was a time, there must have been a time, when the face looking back from the mirror was different. Diffidence, yes, always. Abjection, fear. Pain, often. Terror, perhaps. But a difference still- and not only because once her hair was long and, people said, beautiful, but a difference that went beyond the obvious, hovering behind the cracked and mottled surface. She goes on staring, as if she is expecting something else and something more. Surely blood should leave a stain? She has washed her hands, of course. Her whole body in fact. Washed and washed and scrubbed enough to draw new blood from under the skin; but there may be something else that shows in ways the eyes are indifferent to. Does death not show? Murder? The ghost stares back, still inscrutable.

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