It had been a horrible day weather wise. The south island received a lashing of gale force winds and rain and this weather bomb was making its way up north. Thankfully we only got the tail end of the storm as it made its way out, but none-the-least it was pouring down with rain. We shouldn’t complain though as it had been very hot and humid for the past week, and some areas were desperate for the rain. And living on a rural property where we do not get municipal water, we rely on the rain to fill the water tanks. So for that I can give a shout of “hallelujah”.
After doing the gymnastics run in the afternoon I had an hour to myself when I got home. I made myself a cup of ginger and lemon tea, curled up in bed and started reading a book I haven’t looked at since 2005, called Dis ek, Anna. It is an Afrikaans book and captures the story of Anna Bruwer: based on a true story she tells the readers about her life with great emphasis on an incredibly difficult time of her life. There are times you don’t want to continue reading as it is so raw and sad, but you are compelled to see how it all ends, her victory through it all (not that I think you can mentally escape such heartache and dreadful circumstances). There is an English translated version of the book called It’s me, Anna, and if you do choose to read it, be prepared for an emotional rollercoaster.
Reading the story again, 12 years later with a daughter of my own, the same age as the book’s character when these atrocities were happening, I struggled even more to turn the page. The realisation that a girl my daughter’s age had to go through it, not her doing but by the hands of someone else, made me cross. I was upset for her, I was upset with the perpetrator, I was upset with her mother. I read some reviews on the book and someone said that you will not find a place in the book to smile or laugh, but I did. The author writes it from the mouth of a child, then teenager and it is so innocent that you can’t help but smile when she thinks her mother has gone completely insane, or when she hopes her dad will punch the living daylights out of her bastard of a stepfather. I could hear my own daughter’s thoughts, see her actions and it made it so much more real for me.
Saying that this is one of my favourite Afrikaans books to read sounds a bit mean. It is certainly not because of its graphic and torturous content, but because of its simplicity. It reads easy with almost a limited use of vocabulary. The author literally takes you with her, into the bedroom, when she is with her best friend, even just playing around on the beach with her dog. You are there with her at all times. And the typical Afrikaans slang makes it authentic.
There is a follow up to the book, called Die staat teen Anna Bruwer (The State vs Anna Bruwer). The hunt is on to find, order and read it.