Tooth and Claw – Chapter 4

AUTHOR: Francesco Nassimbeni

PUBLISHER: FunDza Literacy Trust


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The teacher is pulling me off her; everyone is talking loudly and fast. The teacher is saying something to me, something angry, but I don’t hear.

All I can do is look at Funeka’s eyes as he drags me away.

I’m in the Principal’s office and Mr Dlamini is there. The Principal is a woman, Mrs. Msutwana.

“I don’t know what got into her,” says Mr Dlamini, shaking his head. “It was like she turned into a wild animal.”

That’s a laugh. If I was a wild animal I’d probably be a cockroach. Something that lives in the dark and the dirt. I smirk as I think of myself as a cockroach, freaking people out.

“Is something about this funny to you, Khwezi?” the Principal asks.

“No Ma’am,” I say woodenly.

Mr Dlamini shakes his head again. “I don’t think she’s right in the head.”

I click my teeth, turn my face toward the window so that they can’t see my hurt.

“Is everything OK at home?” Mrs Msutwana asks me.

I feel tears coming on. I bite my lips and they stop. I will not let them see my cry. I will not let anyone see me cry.

“Mr Dlamini,” says the Principal, “I’ll take it from here.”

He looks worried, then relieved. He sighs as he gets up. He shakes his head again, then leaves.

I keep looking out of the window. Mrs Msutwana watches me.

“You live with your uncle, don’t you, Khwezi?”

“Yes,” I say, still looking away.

“Look at me please.”

I don’t. My eyes will reveal too much.

“Khwezi, please look at me.”

With difficulty, I turn and look into her eyes. They are concerned. I almost feel like I can trust her.


You can’t trust anyone at this school though. They’ll pretend to be your friend until they stab you in the back.

“If there’s something wrong at home, you must tell me,” she says.

Her voice is persuasive. Part of me wants to imagine she is my mother, and hug her, and say, ‘I miss you Mommy’. But I can’t think about my mother now. I’ll just break down. I just stay silent.

“I want you to know that if you need to talk about something, I’m here for you, OK?”

I want to believe her so badly. But I don’t. Not really.

“Everything is fine,” I say flatly. “Can I go now?”

“Promise me you won’t cause this kind of havoc in class again.”

“I promise.”

“And I’m sorry, but I have to punish you.”

“Why? She provoked me.”

“I can’t let you think that this kind of thing goes unpunished. You have detention for the next three Fridays. OK?”

I give her the silent treatment. She waits.

“OK?” she asks again.

“Fine,” I say with a voice like lead, then get up quickly out of the seat, and leave.


Tell us: Should Khwezi tell this sympathetic Principal about her home life? Why is she holding back?

16 Responses

  1. She should but it’s not easy and maybe she doesn’t want to bother her with her problems

    22 Feb 2017 at 19:50
  2. Yes she should tell the principal about her family problems myb she cn b helped out

    Bongani mbatha
    13 Feb 2017 at 10:11
  3. She should tell the principal about her home situation get help sometimes being silence of what truly hurts you could be a hold back to many things and from moving forward in life. Talking from experience

    12 Feb 2017 at 22:25
  4. No.pipo may pretend 2 wanna help u but really wanna destroy u.what Khwezi is passing thru is too personal and telling the Principal can make matters worse at home.#hide-ur-problems

    11 Feb 2017 at 14:45
  5. She cnt tell her bcoz she think dat she will tell her uncle

    9 Feb 2017 at 07:36
  6. Yes she should tell the principle about her home situations maybe she can be helped out.

    Chabota Chiyanika
    9 Feb 2017 at 00:28

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