Ruru’s father, Phaks, joined the anti-apartheid struggle in exile before she was born but never returned, preferring to stay in Tanzania. Years later, though he has passed away, Ruru goes in search of signs of his life in his adopted country. She finds it in his widow and his ‘pillow books’ – journals he kept, coming to terms with his mortality. Struck by the parallels with her teenage letters to her late mother, she reads to find answers to her questions: Who was he? Why did he not return?
Mphuthumi Ntabeni lives in Cape Town where he is a political commentator and writer. His debut novel, The Broken River Tent, won the University of Johannesburg Debut Prize in 2019.