- This world is full of trouble, umfundisi. - Who knows it better? - Yet you believe? Kumalo looked at him under the light of the lamp. I believe, he said, but I have learned that it is a secret. Pain and suffering, they are a secret. Kindness and love, they are a secret. But I have learned that kindness and love can pay for pain and suffering. There is my wife, and you, my friend, and these people who welcomed me, and the child who is so eager to be with us here in Ndotsheni - so in my suffering I can believe. - I have never thought that a Christian would be free of suffering, umfundisi. For our Lord suffered. And I come to believe that he suffered, not to save us from suffering, but to teach us how to bear suffering. For he knew that there is no life without suffering. Kumalo looked at his friend with joy. You are a preacher, he said.
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In the meantime the strike is over, with a remarkably low loss of life. All is quiet, they report, all is quiet. In the deserted harbour there is yet water that laps against the quays. In the dark and silent forest there is a leaf that falls. Behind the polished panelling the white ant eats away the wood. Nothing is ever quiet, except for fools.
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Cry, the beloved country, for the unborn child that's the inheritor of our fear. Let him not love the earth too deeply. Let him not laugh too gladly when the water runs through his fingers, nor stand too silent when the setting sun makes red the veld with fire. Let him not be too moved when the birds of his land are singing. Nor give too much of his heart to a mountain or a valley. For fear will rob him if he gives too much.
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Have you a room that you could let?" "Yes, I have a room that I could let, but I do not want to let it. I have only two rooms, and there are six of us already, and the boys and girls are growing up. But school books cost money, and my husband is ailing, and when he is well it is only thirty-five shillings a week. And six shillings of that is for the rent, and three shillings of that is for the rent, and three shillings for travelling, and a shilling that we may all be buried decently, and a shilling for the books, and three shillings is for clothes and that is little enough, and a shilling for my husband's beer, and a shilling for his tobacco, and these I do not grudge for he is a decent man and does not gamble or spend his money on other women, and a shilling for the Church, and a shilling for sickness. And that leaves seventeen shillings for food for six, and we are always hungry. Yes I have a room but I do not want to let it. How much could you pay?" "I could pay three shillings a week for the room." "And I would not take it." "Three shillings and sixpence." "Three shillings and sixpence. You can't fill your stomach on privacy. You need privacy when your children are growing up, but you can't fill your stomach on it. Yes, I shall take three shillings and sixpence.
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All roads lead to Johannesburg. If you are white or if you are black they lead to Johannesburg. If the crops fail, there is work in Johannesburg. If there are taxes to be paid, there is work in Johannesburg. If the farm is too small to be divided further, some must go to Johannesburg. If there is a child to be born that must be delivered in secret, it can be delivered in Johannesburg.
They were your friends?" "Yes, they were my friends." "And they will leave you to suffer alone?" "Now I see it." "And until this, were they friends you could trust?" "I could trust them." "I see what you mean. You mean they were the kind of friends that a good man could choose, upright, hard-working, obeying the law? Tell me, were they such friends? And now they leave you alone? Did you not see it before?" "I saw it.
There is not much talking now. A silence falls upon them all. This is no time to talk of hedges and fields, or the beauties of any country. Sadness and fear and hate, how they well up in the heart and mind, whenever one opens pages of these messengers of doom. Cry for the broken tribe, for the law and the custom that is gone. Aye, and cry aloud for the man who is dead, for the woman and children bereaved. Cry, the beloved country, these things are not yet at an end. The sun pours down on the earth, on the lovely land that man cannot enjoy. He knows only the fear of his heart.
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There is a man sleeping in the grass. And over him is gathering the greatest storm of all his days. Such lightening and thunder will come there has never been seen before, bringing death and destruction. People hurry home past him, to places safe from danger. And whether they do not see him there in the grass, or whether they fear to halt even a moment, but they do not wake him, they let him be.
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What broke in a man when he could bring himself to kill another? What broke when he could bring himself to thrust down the knife into the warm flesh, to bring down the axe on the living head, to cleave down between the seeing eyes, to shoot the gun that would drive death into the beating heart?