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In Cry, The Beloved Country, Kumalo is grieved when he finds out that it was his son Absalom who was responsible for Arthur Jarvis' death. Absalom tells the court that he was afraid when he fired off his gun. He confessed that the gun was originally meant to frighten Arthur's servant, but because of his great fear, he fired it inadvertently in the heat of the moment.
Kumalo goes to Mr. Jarvis' house to confess that it was his son, Absalom, who killed Arthur Jarvis. Mr. Jarvis is shocked when he sees the parson (or umfundisi in Zulu), as he appears to be ill. He asks after Kumalo's health and whether he can bring him some food or water, but Kumalo is struggling under a great burden. His grief and shame at his son's actions have debilitated him (sapped him of strength). This is why Kumalo appears to be ill.
'Then,' said the old man, ‘this thing that is the heaviest thing of all my years, is the heaviest thing of all your years also.’ Jarvis looked at him. ‘You can mean only one thing,’ he said, ‘you can mean only one thing.’
‘It was my son that killed your son,’ said the old man.
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