For Araminta Rossouw, diamonds had a magical appeal: not clamped in rings or kings’ crowns and sceptres, but unpolished and free in the palm of her hand, in the hollows of her African violet’s leaves, or on her windowsill where they could talk to the mountain. Diamonds are small, sacred stones in which primordial light is stored. And they radiate something: when she holds them, she knows whether they are happy or not.
To help people out of a financial predicament, she goes to sell diamonds on their behalf in a slum quarter in Cape Town, hoping to also buy a shortcut to her own freedom. As a white child of Africa, she feels rejected and doomed to be part of a never-ending struggle; she wants to escape to a country where it would be possible to live without any guilt and finally reach happiness.
She tried to discover herself at university by delving into the history of the Afrikaner people. This is when she discovered a crack which runs through everything and which no-one ever told her about. A crack that is getting bigger and bigger, and that affects everyone and everything.
She no longer has a choice: she will have to follow this crack herself. Because, as a real estate agent she still needs to earn a lot of commission for the wings she needs to fly away. But diamonds offer a quick escape route. Dangerous, but irresistible.
This is the start of a game with these fascinating shiny stones which leads to a crisis that she, even with all her careful calculations, could not have foreseen. And when everything seems lost, a lawyer by the name of Koos Malherbe pitches up. He has seen enough to know that it won’t help to build a bridge across the truth.
- Brug van die Esels (The Day the Swallows Spoke) has been translated into English and Hebrew.
- Brug van die Esels (The Day the Swallows Spoke) is available in Braille and on cassette for the visually impaired.