Socialisation usually involves learning some aspect of life by what you see going on around you. But here you see coldness at the centre of life. The men hunt, but game is scarce. If they get anything, they refuse to bring it back to their families, saying, “Each one of them is out seeing what he can get for him self. Do you think they will bring any back for me?”
You also see cruelty at the centre of life. When blind Lo’ono trips and rolls to the bottom of the ravine, the adults laugh as she lies on her back, her arms and legs thrashing feebly. When Lolim begs his son to let him in, pleading that he is going to die in a few hours, Longoli drives him away. Lolim dies alone.
The children learn their lesson well: selfishness is good, the survival of the individual paramount. But the children add a childish glee to the adults’ dispassionate coldness. When blind Lolim took ill, the children would dance and tease him, kneeling in front of him and laughing as he fell. His grandson would creep up and with a pair of sticks drum a beat on the old man’s bald head.
Then there was Adupa, who managed, for a while, to keep a sense of awe of life. When Adupa found food, she would hold it in her hand, looking at it with wonder and delight. As she would raise her hand to her mouth, the other children would jump on her, laughing as they beat her.
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