This piece is about a Grade 11 student who faced and encountered lots of obstacles in life, but still worked hard to get out of his challenges with education. A wise person is one who never lets their current situation determine their future. Despite everyone’s opinion and all the hurt, I managed to get through.

Tormenting moments of hatred took over my life. “Mahlatse, my boy, I will be back” Those were my father’s words on the night he was taken away by two tough policemen. My father was more than an individual. He was so loving in times of soberness yet cold when drunk. Amongst my two brothers, I was his favourite son.

During the years of my primary school education, shoplifting was the only way we could be the coolest kids on the block. At the age of 13, my friend and I got arrested for shoplifting at Checkers. We didn’t steal money or fancy stuff; we only stole toy cars. He who hesitates is lost. Everyone in the neighbourhood thought ‘like father like son’. My brothers and I had no intention of reflecting my father’s personality, spending all our money on booze every month end or coming home drunk and swearing at everyone as if they were intruding in their own home!

Absence made my mother’s heart for her side of the family grow fonder; the family I had never met. After throwing in the towel to my life and accepting that every day of my life would be the same: drunk friends of my father would always be around throughout my years of schooling. I never got chance to study at home freely.

The sisters I was never told about, my mother’s two oldest children, came looking for her with the Khumbul’ekhaya crew from KwaZulu-Natal. They bailed my mother out of the miserable life she lived; home is where the heart is. My mother left Limpopo for good, leaving us with our father. Old habits die hard, but my father reduced his alcohol intake and tried to make a home for us in the house my mother left behind. If the cap fits, wear it. My brothers and I took a bus to KZN a month later.

More haste, less speed. We rushed to KZN in the middle of the year, only to find that we had to take a gap year from the school when I was supposed to be doing Grade 8. With my new family, children had to be seen and not heard.

New Year came and we started school again. We chose poverty over domestic violence. From Grade 8, I kept my head down, knowing that the only income we got was our child grant. Going to sleep hungry and not having school shoes made me excel in my school work. I knew that the only way out of poverty was to get good matric results in year 2017 and get a bursary that would sponsor my Bachelor of Law degree at the University of Johannesburg.

I’m still in Grade 8, always being the top learner. I tend to work hard to overcome the judgment of my background. Being the provincial finalist of Moot Court inspired me to study law after I matriculated so that I can help all underprivileged families experiencing domestic violence to get justice.