He hurried out the back door, stopped a few yards away from it and paced the ground outside uneasily. A woman’s voice was hurled after him; it promised to serve him due retribution once he entered the house again. He was mum, his shoulders made his speech as he shrugged in defiance. No one talked for a while and everything seemed calm except for stones kicked about by his restless feet and dust raised as he paced the ground like a fugitive. He later sat on what used to be a living section of a living tree’s trunk, eyes darting furtively now and then. There was peace. Until his grandfather crept out of a wall of bush behind which he’d just dispatched the excesses of his aged life and bitterly expressed his distaste for the boy. You are wasting yourself! granny cried. The old man then picked up a bucketful of water that had been left to warm under the blistering sun and headed for the small square of corrugated metal sheets that served as bathroom. His voice – Bastard child! Child with a bad head! Ne’er-do-well! – rose above the splash of waters as they fell on his head and ran down his face onto the square patch of cement that he stood on.

The words settled splat on the boy’s head.