A poignant mem­oir

CityPress - - Voices -

she will al­ways be dif­fer­ent.

Friedman’s ob­ser­va­tions are acute and amus­ing, but they all hint at the ca­sual cru­elty and suf­fer­ing of the time.

The lo­cal al­bino woman dis­parag­ingly called “wit­meid”; the eight-year-old child in her class who died from a brain tu­mour; the tor­pid hymns all Sun­day drift­ing over from the NG Kerk where most of the town is gath­ered, “swollen with the plea­sure of be­ing right, white and Afrikaans”.

Her mother tells her not to be em­bar­rassed about the “Jew church” on the wrong side of town, but that is what her friends call the syn­a­gogue, and Jennifer doesn’t want to be a good Jewish child or “a good woman more pre­cious than ru­bies”.

She wants to be like her friends and join the Voortrekkers, have shiny pic­tures of pink-cheeked Je­sus, know what hap­pens in the chil­dren’s ser­vice. On the way home from school, she also wit­nesses po­lice­men beat­ing pris­on­ers, and screams at them to stop. “You’re next, you filthy lit­tle com­mie Jew,” they re­ply. “We’re com­ing to get you!”

Even­tu­ally, Jennifer is sent to board­ing school in Cape Town, and the idyll of life with her ex­tended fam­ily and Sandy her dog ends.

– San­dra Lau­rence

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