Circles in a forest, by Dalene Matthee
With 'Circles in a forest' Dalene Matthee has written a masterpiece of fiction in protest against wanton destruction of land resources and wildlife and against the exploitation of the uneducated.
Arriving at the edge of the Forest shortly after sunrise, he finds the scanty wooden house he was looking for without too much difficulty. He knocks and waits. An old coloured man opens the door and stares at him, aghast. 'Master Saul?' A thousand questions flash through his eyes. 'I've come to borrow the gun, Maska.' 'The gun?' the old man asks suspiciously. 'What for?' 'Because I've decided that Terblans will not shoot Old Foot. If someone has to do it, it will be me.' Something like panic makes old Maska's small black eyes go wild. 'You? You shoot him?' 'Yes.' 'No!' It's a cry for mercy, he throws out his hands and shakes his head. 'Not you. Please, Master Saul 'Lend me the gun.' 'But I only have two bullets!' Hope seems to flare up in the old man. 'No one in this Forest will give you a single bullet more. They will not help you, Master Saul.' 'Two bullets will be enough. Have you got gunpowder?' 'Seems to me rich man's life has softened your head!' Maska suddenly turns angry. 'Seems to me you're forgetting that Old Foot is Old Foot! That all the cunning of all the elephants ...' He stops short, bewildered. In his desperation he has used the forbidden name and quickly tries to make it right: '... that all the cunning of all the bigfeet together sit under his skull! Let Fred Terblans come do it and let it be done.' 'Give me the gun. Fred Terblans will not shoot him.' 'Master Saul ...' the old man is reduced to pleading 'My hands carried guns for the Englishman that came shooting bigfeet here once - we were four men carrying his guns and things and as he emptied one gun we had the next one loaded and ready for the taking ...' Saul knows the old one is trying to gain time by talking. 'I've never seen a man shoot like that one, he was a man that had shot bigfeet in another country ... But then the wind suddenly changed and we were standing below the cow. When she came for us, there was no time for shooting good or bad, it was just shoot! Do you know what a bigfoot cow looks like with a quarter pound of lead in the lung? No, you don't. Do you know what she sounds like? How she tears the world apart while she drowns in her own blood? No. But my eyes have seen it, Master Saul. My ears have heard it. When she started spouting blood through her trunk she went blind with fury and the Englishman shouted to us to reload but we could not...' 'Because you were all sitting up in a tree and the guns were lying on the ground,' Saul finishes the story for him. When he was a child, Maska often told about that hunt and he always had the most terrible nightmares afterwards in which it was he that had to get away from the bloody fury and could not. Every time he woke up in terror to comfort himself with the knowledge that the Englishman did manage to relieve the cow with a shot in the heart. 'And she was not nearly as big as Old Foot!' Maska adds in warning. 'Lend me the gun.' 'You cannot go do it.' 'You are making me waste time, Maska!' 'Don't ask this of me, Master Saul. When everybody in this Forest wanted to stone you, I was the one that pleaded for you.' [...]
This is an excerpt from Circles in a forest, by Dalene Matthee.
Title: Circles in a forest
Author: Dalene Matthee
Editor: Stephen Gray
Publisher: The Penguin Group (SA)
Cape Town, South Africa 2005
ISBN 9780143185420 / ISBN 978-0-14-318542-0
Softcover, 13 x 20 cm, 253 pages
Matthee, Dalene im Namibiana-Buchangebot
The South African novel 'Circles in a forest' grabs you to such an extent that you will never drive past Knysna again without thinking about these people and how they suffered.
Der noch in den 1980er Jahren weltbekannte, heute fast vergessene Südafrika-Roman "Unter dem Kalanderbaum oder Das Erwachen des Saul Barnard" ist in der Waldlandschaft Knysna der Kap-Provinz angelegt.
The novel Fiela's child is a powerful creation of time and place with dark threads of destiny and oppression.