Transitions: Half a Century of South African Short Stories
By Megan Lucas
The stories in the book, Transitions: Half a Century of South African Short Stories, interrogate platitudes and cliché’s. This is why, in these, stories, emphasis falls on the protagonists who outgrow ideological comfort zones. (Unknown. ENN311M/101) This statement claims that the main characters in the stories in Transitions go through certain changes that force them to let go of their ideologies and that it is apparent in the dialogue. This essay will discuss the above claim with regards to two specific stories in the book to see if the claim is true for all the short stories. The first story was written by Ahmed Essop and is titled ‘The Hajji’. It is a dense tale about forgiveness. In short, Hassen, a Muslim man, has just returned from a pilgrimage to Mecca where he has asked for forgiveness for all his shortcomings and past transgressions and has been cleansed of his sins and consecrated with the title Hajji. He is then informed by his estranged brother’s white lover that his brother, Karim is very ill and that his dying wish is to see Hassen and to be buried by his Muslim brothers. Hajji Hassen is hearing dust. He refuses to forgive Karim for abandoning his family ten years ago to live with a white woman. The white woman begs and does not succeed and then seeks the help of a “well known man in the Indian community” (Mackenzie, C. & Essop, A. 1999:63). Still Hassen refuses to forgive his brother. Only once the news of his brother’s death arrives, does he have a sudden change of heart. It is evident in the text that Hassen is struggling with his decision. There is no doubt that he loves his brother but he is so deep rooted in his morals and principles that the decision to forgive someone who has thrown away their family to disobey the law is indeed a tough one. He was hurt personally by his brother’s decision ten years ago. On the one hand, he believes his brother should be...
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