A boy told his friends that he will give them a treat with 10 shillings his mom gave to him on his birthday. He and his three best friends went to a café and ordered ice cream and chocolate chips. Standing his friends to a treat, he felt like he has become a prince or something. But that feeling did not last long. Children dressed in shabby clothes were looking at them from outside the window as if they want some of those snacks. They were colored and the boy and his friends were white.
That reminded the boy of another incident. A colored boy named Eddy lived at his house, doing house chores such as dishwashing and cleaning. Eddy’s mom received 10 shillings every month in return by postal money. The boy could get 10 shillings on his birthday but Eddy had to live far away from his mother to earn 10 shillings. It must have been so hard for Eddy. Two months after working at the boy’s house, Eddy ran away one night. In the morning, the boy’s family found out Eddy was gone. The police found Eddy, hiding in the bushes. The person who punished Eddy for running away was neither the police nor the boy’s family. It was a British man, who was boarding at the boy’s house. The man said Eddy should be punished for ruining his Saturday morning. Eddy, who is the same age with the boy, used to teach the boy how to ride a bicycle and played wrestling with him on the grass. The boy secretly watched Eddy being lashed on his calves with taws.
It was not fair even from the eyes of the boy: Children of color watching white children eating ice cream and chips because they could not afford them and Eddy becoming a mess with tears and runny nose after being lashed harshly. The boy realized that the world is not a righteous place due to these two stories related to 10 shillings. His feelings got hurt. The boy later became a novelist and dug deep into the meaning of that feeling. From that observation came his great novels, such as “Waiting for the Barbarians,” “Life & Times of Michael K,” “Age of Iron,” and “Disgrace.” The boy is South African novelist John M. Coetzee, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature for 2003.