Somehow Tenderness Survives: Stories of Southern Africa

Somehow Tenderness Survives: Stories of Southern Africa

by Hazel Rochman

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780064470636
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/28/1990
Series: A Charlotte Zolotow Bk.
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 208
Product dimensions: 4.18(w) x 7.00(h) x 0.41(d)
Lexile: 990L (what's this?)
Age Range: 13 - 17 Years

About the Author

Author Bio
Hazel Rochman is an assistant editor at ALA Booklist, where she reviews books for children and young adults. Her previous book for HarperCollins, Somehow Tenderness Survives: Stories of Southern Africa, was listed as a 1988 Best Book for Young Adults (ALA) and as a 1989 Book for the Teen Age (NY Public Library). Darlene Z. Campbell is an English teacher at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools. Both Ms. Campbell and Ms. Rochman live in Chicago.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Wednesday was crackling day. On that day the children of the location made the long trek to Elsburg siding for the square ofpig's rind that passed for our daily meat. We collected a double lot of cow dung the day before; a double lot of moeroga.

I finished my breakfast and washed up. Aunt Liza was at her washtub in the yard. A misty, sickly sun was just showing. Andon the open veld the frost lay thick and white on the grass.

"Ready?" Aunt Liza called.

I went out to her. She shook the soapsuds off her swollen hands and wiped them on her apron. She lifted the apron and puther hand through the slits of the many thin cotton dresses she wore. The dress nearest the skin was the one with the Pocket.From this she pulled a sixpenny piece. She tied it in a knot on the comer of a bit of coloured cloth and handed it to me.

"Take care of that...Take the smaller piece of bread in the bin, but don't eat it till you start back. You can have a small piece of crackling with it. Only a small piece, understand?"

"Yes, Aunt Liza."

"All right."

I got the bread and tucked it into the little canvas bag in which I would carry the crackling.

"Bye, Aunt Liza. " I trotted off, one hand in my pocket, feeling the cloth where the money was. I paused at Andries's home.

"Andries!" I danced up and down while I waited. The cold was not so terrible on bare feet if one did not keep still.

Andries came trotting out of his yard. His mother's voice followed, desperate and plaintive:

"I'll skin you if you lose the money!"

"Women!" Andries said bitterly.

I glimpsed the dark, skinny woman at her washtub as we trottedacross the veld. Behind and in front of US, other childrentrotted in twos and threes.

There was a sharp bite to the morning air I sucked in; it stung my nose so that tears came to my eyes; it went down mythroat like an icy draught; my nose ran. I tried breathing through my mouth, but this was worse. The cold went through myshirt and shorts; my skin went pimply and chilled; my fingers went numb and began to ache; my feet felt like frozen lumpsthat did not belong to me, yet jarred and hurt each time I put them down. I began to feel sick and desperate.

"Jesus God in heaven!" Andries cried suddenly.

I looked at him. His eyes were rimmed in red. Tears ran down his cheeks. His face was drawn and purple, a sick look on it.

"Faster," I said.

"Think it'll help?"

I nodded. We went faster. We passed two children, sobbing and moaning as they ran. We were all in the same desperatesituation. We were creatures haunted and hounded by the cold. It was a cruel enemy who gave no quarter. And our means offighting it were pitifully inadequate. In all the mornings and evenings of the winter months, young and old, big and small,were helpless victims of the bitter cold. Only toward noon and in the early afternoon, when the sun sat high in the sky, wasthere a brief respite. For us, the children, the cold, especially the morning cold, assumed an awful and malevolent personality.We talked of "it.." "It" was a half-human monster with evil thoughts, evil intentions, bent on destroying us. "It" was happiestwhen we were most miserable. Andries had told me how "it" had, last winter, caught and killed a boy.

Hunger was an enemy too, but one with whom we could come to terms, who had many virtues and values. Hunger gave ourpap, moeroga, and crackling a feastlike quality. When it was not with us, we could think and talk kindly about it. Its memorycould even give moments of laughter. But the cold of winter was with us all the time.. "It" never really eased up. There wereonly more bearable degrees of "it" at high noon and on mild days. "It" was the real enemy. And on this Wednesday morning,as we ran across the veld, winter was more bitterly, bitingly, freezingly than ever.

The sun climbed. The frozen earth thawed, leaving the short grass looking wet and weary. Painfully our feet and legs camealive. The aching numbness slowly left our fingers. We ran more slowly in the more bearable cold.

In climbing, the sun lost some of its damp look and seemed a real, if cold, sun. When it was right overhead, we struck thesandy road, which mean we were nearing the siding. None of the other were in sight. Andries and I were alone on the sandyroad on the open veld. We slowed down to a brisk walk. We were sufficiently thawed to want to talk.

"How far?" I said.

"A few minutes," he said.

"I've got a piece of bread," I said.

"Me too," he said. "Let's eat it now."

"On the way back," I said. "With a bit of crackling."

"Good idea. Race to the fork."

"All right."

"Go!" he said.

We shot off together, legs working like pistons. He soon pulled away from me. He reached the fork in the road some fiftyyards ahead.

"I win!" he shouted gleefully, though his teeth still chattered.

We pitched stones down the road, each trying to pitch farther than the other. I won and wanted to go on doing it. ButAndries soon grew weary with pitching. We raced again. Again he won. He wanted another race, but I refused. I wantedpitching, but he refused. So, sulking with each other, we reached the pig farm.

We followed a fenced-off pathway round sprawling white buildings. Everywhere about us was the grunt of pigs. As wepassed an open doorway, a hugh dog came bounding out, snarling and barking at us.

Somehow Tenderness Survives. Copyright � by Hazel Rochman. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Somehow Tenderness Survives Stories of Southern Africa 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful collection of short stories that tells of the horrible conditions of apartheid and the proud determination of those who suffered under it. It is unconventional at first but really comes to life after a few chapters (stories). It is not necessarily the most entertaining read, but for those interested in learning about the conditions of apartheid, the history of South Africa, or the beauty of the human spirit, it is truly amazing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful collection of short stories that tells of the horrible conditions of apartheid and the proud determination of those who suffered under it. It is unconventional at first but really comes to life after a few chapters (stories). It is not necessarily the most entertaining read, but for those interested in learning about the conditions of apartheid, the history of South Africa, or the beauty of the human spirit, it is truly amazing.