We’re coming up toward the end of The Hafeem Saul now. Please forgive me if I seem a little bit emotionally involved, because I am.
In the most recent section, Saul shouts “GODDAMN SON OF A BITCH” along with Bonnie Akers, in a kind of Infuriated Mantra. It’s freeing for him, and he says of the experience that he “dug up buried corpses of sorrow and pitched them into his voice.” Buried corpses! It’s often like that with one’s conscience: the expression “I know where the corpses are buried” applies more often to oneself about oneself than to a blackmailer.
After they share this moment, Bonnie admits her fatal crime, but to us as modern readers, it scarcely registers. She’s gone mad because of this? I found it devastating. I don’t know why, exactly, as the historical reality of it is scarcely a new discovery for me. But Bonnie Akers is alive now, and I felt in the gut.
Then there is a touch of the comic as Carol Denning and several other women Bear Witness that they’ve done the same. The section concludes with these paired passages.
Bonnie ceased to thrash or scream, and spent much of the day watching the ocean. For his part, Saul felt a certain inward calm, but an unsteadiness too, rather like a sailor stepping ashore after years at sea. After living so long with self-reproach, he found it difficult to achieve balance without it.
But it’s only a brief respite. In “Bloodletting Hasn’t Lost its Currency,” Saul notices the first physical changes in Bonnie, and we are now on our way to the end of the story.
The final three installments will be up soon. — Kate