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Mark turns ten without any fanfare. Ten years is a long time to endure the suffering he has endured, and he feels much older than ten.
One night when he's almost eleven, he witnesses a murder. He was returning home in the late afternoon when he saw six tsotsis chasing two men. He runs and hides in a patch of grass and watches the scene unfold.
The tsotsis close the distance on the men. One of them tries to enter a yard, hoping the people who lived there would help them, but they close their doors.
The man begs the tsotsis not to kill him but they tell him to shut up. Mark peers through and sees their knives, meat cleavers, and tomahawks, then watches as they gut the man up while he screams and begs them not to kill him.
The man breaks free and runs away, but he's clearly dying.
The tsotsis catch up with him and finish him off, then strip the body of every valuable thing.
Mark says still for a long time, until finally he runs home and faints as soon as he gets inside.
Mama throws water on him to revive him. He tries to explain to her what happened but can't say anything intelligible, so he sleeps.
The next morning, he tells her what he saw, and she wonders what he was doing out so late anyway.
He explains he was playing soccer, and she tries to get him to stop playing soccer, to read instead.
Mark has no books to read, he says, and she tells him to borrow books from friends.
Later that day, Mark revisits the murder scene. Though the body is gone, there's still blood on the ground.
For weeks, Mark lives with the fear and nightmares, and gradually loses his desire for life.
Mama and Papa take him to a witch doctor to seek a cure but it does nothing.
Mark becomes a loner. He suffers from insomnia and his grades go down. He feels despair, but he still hopes that life will hold out something better for him in the future, when he's older.