by Mark Mathabane
Kaffir Boy Suffering Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
Pangs of hunger melted my resentment of my father away, and now that he was gone I longed night and day for his return. I didn't even mind his coming back and shouting restrictions at me and making me perform rituals. I simply wanted him back. And as days slid by without him, as I saw other children in the company of their fathers, I would cry. His absence showed me how much I loved him. I never stopped asking questions about when he would be coming back. (6.8)
Though Mark suffered when Papa was around, he suffered even more when Papa was gone. One of the reasons that Mark suffered more when Papa was not around is that his basic needs were no longer met.
Each day we spent without food drove us closer and closer to starvation. Then terror struck. I began having fainting spells. I would be out playing when suddenly my head would feel light, my knees would wobbles, my vision would dim and blur and down I would come like a log. (6.24)
The family quickly goes hungry, as soon as Papa is arrested and sent to jail. Though Papa was unable to provide adequately, it was better than nothing.
A few weeks later George and Florah came down with a mysterious illness, which left them emaciated and lethargic, their stomachs so distended that I thought they would burst. Their bodies were covered with sores, which punctured and oozed pus, and their hair turned to a strange orange colour. There were times when, while fanning off blowflies with a piece of cardboard from their filmy, half-closed eyes, mucus-covered noses and bruised mouths, while they lay writhing with pain on the damp cement floor, I thought I could see their tiny, empty intestines. Seeing them like that made me cry. Occasionally, they excreted live worms with their bloody stools. Their tearing coughs kept everyone awake at night. Each time my mother gave them a morsel of food, whenever she could get it, the vomited. Their suffering made the days and nights unbearably long and gloomy.
My mother did not have the one hundred cents to take them to the clinic, and no witch doctor, our last resort, was willing to treat them on credit. But with determination, courage and love, she tried her best to nurse them back to health using some herbs Granny gave her. My brother and sister fought with the tenacity typical of African children to stay alive, but I wondered for how long. The strangest thing was that, except for a minor cough, I felt fine. (6.36-37)
Despite his initial fainting spells, Mark soon manages to get used to feeling hunger. It's interesting to note that while Mark adjusts to hunger, his younger siblings start to slide towards starvation.