Age of Iron
How we cite our quotes:
I dreamed I was trapped in a crowd. Shapes pushed at me, hit at me, swore in words I could not make out, filthy, full of menace. I hit back, but my arms were a child's arms: foo, foo went my blows, like puffs of air. (2.102)
Mrs. Curren is so surrounded by hate on a daily basis that she even experiences the effects of it in her dreams.
When the ambulance came I was so stiff that I had to be lifted to my feet. In detaching my sticky fingers from the gash I opened it again. "He has lost a lot of blood," I said. "It's not serious," said the ambulance man curtly. (2.201)
Excuse us, Mr. Ambulance Man, but we beg to differ – this kid has been seriously injured. The way he rebuffs Mrs. Curren could just be attributed to the fact that he probably sees a lot of accidents like this one in his profession, but we can't help but think that he brushes it off because he simply doesn't care whether a black kid like John gets hurt or not. Indifference, it seems, can be a form of hatred too.
I remember a cat I once nursed, an old ginger tom whose jaw was locked shut by an abscess. I took him in when he was too weak to resist, fed him milk through a tube, dosed him with antibiotics. When he got back his strength I set him free, but continued to put out food for him. For a year, on and off, I saw him in the neighborhood; for a year the food was taken. Then he vanished for good. In all this time he treated me without compromise as one of the enemy. Even when he was at his weakest his body was hard, tense, resistant under my hand. Around this boy I now felt the same wall of resistance. (2.322)
Sometimes people (or cats) dislike others for no overt reason – it's just the way things are. Mrs. Curren doesn't love Bheki's friend – she doesn't even really like him – but she's still upset that he seems to have such a negative response to her presence.