Südafrika in Wort und Bild

For my English friends
25.08.2019 17:41




“… Come here if you would like to see our old house and the farm once more before they destroy everything. ….”


Her brother Kris had written the letter. Marie Breytenbach couldn’t open it at once; the shock sat too deep.

She turned it around and saw his address. Her heart fluttered. They had gone their separate ways, knowing nothing of each other. She put the letter down unopened and went into the kitchen, boiling a tea; then she returned to the desk with the letter on it. With trembling fingers, she tore open the envelope. What did he mean? Their farm destroyed?


She searched for comfort in her surroundings. Pacing back and forth, she examined all the little things of which she had become so fond. For a long time, these walls had been her tiger’s cage; nobody entered her private life. At first, she was reluctant and did not want to leave. What would she find there, in a country she had left so long ago? Her income was moderate, just enough to live. But what kept her here?

Her decision was made.

The days, in which she had to prepare everything, went by. She gave up her office job, cancelled the rent and gave away her plants. When it was time to leave she stood in her former flat and looked at herself in the mirror. The green eyes with the brown specs, which had been so full of life and had bewitched so many people before, were clouded with dark circles and now lay deep in her sunken face, like emeralds covered with dust. Her cheekbones pale and fallen-in; the once prominent dimple in her right cheek invisible; the lips that once loved to kiss had become a hard line. She stroked her hair back, and for the first time since her beloved husband died, she used lipstick again.

.“I’m fourty, but still alive,” she whispered defiantly to her reflection in the mirror.


Chapter 1



Marie sank back against the wooden bench. The steam engine whistled and jerked as it pulled the passenger carriages across the stark beauty of a Karoo landscape with endless arid plains and intriguing rock layers. Everything felt remote and numb as she listened to the monotonous rhythm of the train wheels as they went over the narrow-gauge tracks. She watched the telegraph wires rise and fall, rise and fall. Marie got up and pulled the train window down to let in some fresh air. Small dots of sweat stood on her brow; the noise of the shrill whistle and the chug-chug of the train as it inched along; black rust particles settling immediately on all objects as billowing clouds of black steam swirled into the compartment. She hastily shut the window again. Sitting down she dabbed her eyes; taking a look at her surroundings; wooden panels, green vinyl benches. She was not alone, in one corner hunched an elderly couple. The woman was busy knitting, her eyes glued to her knitting work. The wrinkled Shar-Pei of a man opposite her was probably her husband; a face covered by a cob-web of wrinkles. He held a newspaper in front of him not reading.

Was he hiding from her, not wanting to involve in a conversation?

On the other side, a lean, very intellectual looking young man with black spectacles was leaning against the wooden bench, reading a very intellectual-like book. Otherwise, the 3rd class carriage was empty.




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