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Anne Townsend

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

We don’t have the bones ~

A friend of mine works for the Missing Persons Bureau. Dead people, who were murdered under apartheid, are excavated, their bones returned to the families, and they are laid to rest. In some cultures, until you have the bones, and the place of the burial, it is impossible to grieve and process.

It is the same with incest. And it is often impossible. We don’t have the bones. We dream about the uncle, and in the dream we are upbeat. He is in a car. We are going on a journey. We know (in the dream) that the trip will end with us sitting in a public place, face to face. We will be …….. We can’t remember.

We can’t have a burial. No one would attend the funeral. We can’t ‘quantify’ the murder. And we are not missing and deceased. We live in Barrydale, alive, well, and determined not to die. The Missing Persons Bureau contains our relatives. Some phone us (long-lost cousins) but because we have not yet mentioned the ‘incest’, we can’t let our guard down. We can’t risk another turned face. So we shrink our lives, say nothing about our ‘research’, and casually ask: ‘Are you still in touch with Uncle D?’

Incest. It is all of what we are. It is a nothing. Both…… and. Our lives are irrevocably changed. We fear men. We’d probably fear them regardless. (Look at the rape & murder stats). We are never quite sure what is incest-related, what is ‘just the way things are’ and what is ‘normal.’ We keep on deconstructing the incest#footprint# because it is screaming to be foot-printed#





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