In 1950’s South Africa, apartheid is just beginning.
Free-spirited Amina has broken all the rules of her own conventional Indian community in South Africa by running a cafe, a safe haven of laughter, music and home-cooked food; a “grey area” for those who fall outside the strict “black and white” rules of the apartheid-led government.
Cafe regulars include Amina’s feisty waitress Doris, her gentle “Coloured” business partner Jacob and the sparky White local postmistress Madeleine. Long accustomed to the racial barriers of the country and its new laws, Madeleine and Jacob nevertheless share a budding attraction.
Miriam, on the other hand, is a doting mother to her children and a demure and subservient wife to her chauvinistic, frustrated husband, Omar. Quietly intelligent, Miriam has never assumed that she may have choices in life.
When Miriam meets Amina, their unexpected attraction throws them both off balance. Although Miriam manages to subdue her fascination with unconventional Amina, she finds herself slowly inspired to confront familiar and familial constraints. Shortly after their encounter Miriam moves to an isolated life in the country, but even here apartheid is placing its cruel footprint on society, and these injustices bring the two women together again, cementing the basis of their growing feelings.
Meanwhile Jacob decides to pursue a love affair of his own and he and Madeleine begin a tentative, touching relationship. But the best intentions of both are overcome by practical challenges and indignities of simply spending time together.
Even the fearless Amina, faced with the strength of her feelings and with the reality of Miriam’s situation, starts doubting herself. And Miriam finds herself making some courageous choices that will change her own life forever.
Using the stunning South African landscape and jazz tunes of the time, The World Unseen explores a system that divides white from black and women from men, but one that might just allow an unexpected love to survive.