restricted access Chapter 11
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48 11 The detainees did not hear from the outside world again for another three months, until the day Ekobena came to tell Levi that he’d been admitted to bail. Justice Dan Mowena had seen to it himself and had commissioned the Barrister to “inform the other one in no unclear terms that his own release can wait.” Levi had turned down the terms as provokingly discriminatory and after a tirade on jurisprudence the Barrister had left to take the rebuff to His Lordship Justice Dan Mowena. The emissary had been sent marching back with a series of punitive measures: immediate withdrawal of bail, sterner incarceration conditions, indefinite detention. For all His Lordship cared, and which was very much, “the two vandals can rot where they are!” One of the consequences of Dan Mowena’s anger was the curtailing of visits, and along with them the little privileges such as books and newspapers. These would otherwise have all been trivial privations but for the fact that they hit the deprived – Shechem especially – below the belt. Books, newspapers, letters, even people, one could replace with products of the mental factory. Their absence built the power of imagination into a new force that made men authors and editors, reporters and fashioners of human beings. Our creative scope soared with a brittle sense of omnipotence. Loss of freedom became indistinguishable from loss of sight as both resulted not in weakening but in strengthening, in concentration of surviving endowments. Milton, Wonder, Talla, these Great Masters shattered the stigma of rejection as their genius transformed their loss of sight into a salutary disablement. No sooner was Paradise lost than it was infinitely more richly regained through the resilience of the creative faculty. All this stuff made perfect sense until the burning passion in you started tearing down the walls of your skin seeking release. The heart of a father seeking a daughter restored the mind to the reality of its weakness. Day after day Shechem hungered for his daughter. Over and above the pains of confinement, not being able to see his daughter was the thought that afflicted him most. He lay awake through the night tossing and bobbing on his little bed, his head full of places he would have been in with her and the many irreplaceable things she would 49 have been doing: the salt in place of sugar, the overflowing cup of hot coffee dancing in her hands, the midnight bang on the bedroom door because the monster was back in the dream again but really because she wanted to spend the rest of the night cuddled up in his arms with her mother expelled to the outer fringes of the parental bed…the hollowness now was excruciating. He thought of Bertha too, but not with the same fondness. Which was strange, even to him. The court scene had done something to her picture in his mind, had warped it the way burning sun wrinkles a plastic object. He even tried to stand her picture uprightly in his head but the image kept falling and cutting weird shapes on the ground. He was no longer very sure who she was. The truth was he could no longer vow for her a hundred per cent as he would have done in the beginning years of their marriage. She seemed to have drifted too dangerously out of their marital orbit and by all indications it wouldn’t be long before she became a stranger to it. The court scene with her standing there by a metallic grey Mercedez 250 kept bobbing up in his mind. What message was she sending off in his direction with all that? He did not recognise the dress she wore as having been bought by him or with his money and her coiffure seemed to be sitting on a strange head, not on his wife’s. She’d been brought to the court that day by the hearing. So she knew he would be there. She had certainly seen him in conversation with Levi by the eastern pink wall of the court hall. Had stood by or sat in the comfort of the metallic grey bird and seen his skinny and illclad frame straining on futilities with his jail partner. She’d seen his pale frame and remained insensitive. By all indications, her soul of wife had been swallowed in the snare of the glittering limousine. Who ever it was that owned the metallic grey thing was...


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