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Graphic Literature


By The Trantraal Brothers
Translated by the author
Caught in a milieu of addiction and domestic abuse, children in one township in South Africa find themselves facing poverty, hunger, evangelism, and life-or-death decisions.
Grumble in the Jungle
Lord, make every day a Friday
At least there's fish and chips
Or maybe a Sunday;
There's chicken and pumpkin
Beware of Lavis' dogs a-growling
Are you mad? It is the children's bellies
Doing all that howling
From Monday to Thursday
And what about Saturday?
Good Lord, don't tell me there's another day

NIGEL: There's no bread, ou pal.
NIGEL: Jarre, there's no bread, ou pal.
CAITLIN: Mommy I'm hungry.
MOTHER: Now what must I do Caitlin?
MOTHER: Go check how many units are on the 'lectric meter. Quick.
CAITLIN: Uhm... Not a lot... 2.3.
MOTHER: God, nog dit oek.
MOTHER: Caitlin, why don't you and Nigel go and change the empty wine bottles that's standing in the back yard?
NIGEL: No man, Mommy. A person is embarrassed...
CAITLIN: Last night I dreamt I was eating a big plate. Then you ate my food in the dream. That's why this morning when you said I kicked you in my sleep... I was awake a little bit. I'm sorry, nuh?

bottled up and distilled by good sober endeavour)

CAITLIN, NARRATING: My father says the money he gets paid for doing odd-jobs and like that is his pocket money. Nigel and I don't even get pocket money but he does.
He buys wine and beer with his money. Even when there is nothing to eat in the house.
Then Nigel and me have to go and change the empties for bread money the next day.

If someone in my class sees us then I'm never going back to school. God's truth, ou pal.
CAITLIN, NARRATING: My father says Uncle Johnny is a piece of trash who drinks during the week.
He says decent people drink on weekends and that Uncle Johnny is a fuck-up that opens the shebeen in the mornings and closes it in the evening.

(PORTRAIT: Uncle Johnny, Keanu)

Retail and Credit Department
Leisure Area

CAITLIN, NARRATING: Keanu is only six but he already drinks like a man. He steals Uncle Johnny's wine when he's sleeping the booze off. He told us so himself.
He says he has to drink. 'Cos he's a born alcoholic. It's a must.
He says even the doctor had to give him wine when he was born.

My mommy says he was a wine baby. Nigel and me call him Captain Haddock.
CAITLIN, NARRATING: Auntie Millie cooks Auntie Bertha's food and cleans her entire house for a small jar of wine each day.

Auntie One and Auntie Judy are vomit-drinkers. They drink all the drunk people's vomit for Auntie Bertha.

Only joking but I hate them because they always have something to say when we buy on the book from Auntie Bertha, the stupid winos.

We always buy the same things: Half a loaf of bread, ten teaspoons of sugar, a couple of loose teabags, loose ciggies for my mommy and sweets from the change if there's any. There isn't today.

CAITLIN, NARRATING: I hate my father. He hits us for nothing.
He always shouts at us.

This one time he sent me to the house shop I didn't wanna go because there's a dog that charge a person every time you walk past there. So he threw a rock at me so that I must go.
Like I'm a dog.

I cried, ou pal.

(THOUGHT BUBBLE shows CAITLIN being chased by a dog - "Hvarf! Hvarf! Hvarf!")

When I came back, he just said, 'Now look there, nothing happened,' and that.
(CAITLIN holds a colored pencil in one hand, looking down at a DRAWING of two cartoon figures fighting. On the table next to the drawing lies a knife.)

CAITLIN: How would you kill Pa?
NIGEL: I don't know.


CAITLIN: You know what I would do? I'd wait till he was asleep. Then I'd cut his throat with a knife.
But it wouldn't work...
NIGEL: It would.
CAITLIN: No, it wouldn't. He'd wake up. Do you know how sore it is when someone cuts your throat, ou pal? It's shit sore.
NIGEL: Can't you go to prison for that, Caitlin?
CAITLIN: No. We're minors.
NIGEL: What about a chainsaw? A chainsaw is quicker.
CAITLIN: That's dumb.
NIGEL: It's not dumb. I'd really do it, ou pal. I'm not talking shit.
CAITLIN: We don't even have a chainsaw.
NIGEL: So, I can mos lend one.
CAITLIN: You're six years old. Who's gonna lend you a chainsaw?
I hate him. I wish he was dead, ou pal.
NIGEL: I hate him too.
Jarre, ou pal, that's a mal drawing, Caitlin.
(CAITLIN and NIGEL sit among shards of glass, stray bricks, and rusty nails. They each hold an orange in their hands, looking pensive.)

Lord Jesus I know I can't ask you to take someone's life. That's why I won't ask you to take my father's life. But I want to ask you to please divorce him and my mother. Please.
In Jesus' name,
(MUSICIANS play various instruments. A WOMAN clutching a wine bottle begins to sing.)

(A diverse group of people are singing and praying.)

MUSIC: He's never failed me yet, he's never failed me yet ♫
Jesus Christ has never failed me yet...
♫ There's one thing I know, wherever I may go...
Jesus Christ has never failed me yet ♫

(While the band sings, CAITLIN and NIGEL are climbing a gnarled tree in the background. Nearby, a man sits on a fence and watches them.)

MAN, THINKING: Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the masses...
Hy Sal My Nooit Dezlaat

(Two people are hunched over each other in prayer.)

Dear Fudder God tonight I'm bringing Charmaine before your trone of mercy. Tonight Fudder God she is heavy-laden. She acknowledges you as de true God. She believes dat you can restore her peace. Tonight she wants to bring her family before you. A husband who is addicted to drinking. Who takes de food money to buy liquor. A husband who doesn't care for his children who take out his frustration on dem and hit dem for nutting.

Two small children Lord, dere's little Caitlin, dere's little Nigel, dey often have nutting to eat. I ask you to change all dis for her Fudder God. Fill her cupboards wit food Fudder God. Keep her and de children under de precious blood Fudder. Strengten her tonight in Jesus name! Also, all-knowing heavenly Fudder dere's dis woman called Sharon who is having an affair wit de husband. Dey drink togedder. Tonight I ask you to give dem bote over in de hands of de Devil, Lord. I'm asking you to restore dis family, Fudder God, in de mighty name of your son Jesus Christ. Use Charmaine as an instrument in your hands tonight, Lord.
(A GRIM REAPER rides a horse down a road. At the other end of the road stands CAITLIN, turned away and holding a gun. A lamppost in the background is riddled with graffiti, which when read vertically reads TRANTRAAL.)

(vae victis)

(NIGEL cries in the background as his parents have an argument. His father grabs his mother by the face. CAITLIN is watching as well, and looks pensive.

CAITLIN stands in front of a counter, staring down at the knife in front of her. Behind her is a curtain.

CAITLIN'S FATHER begins to push through the curtain.)

© The Trantraal Brothers. By arrangement with the authors. Translation © 2017 by the Trantraal Brothers. All rights reserved.


© The Trantraal Brothers. By arrangement with the authors. Translation © 2017 by the Trantraal Brothers. All rights reserved.

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