Young people offering up their lives as sacrifice, just to take the baton from the fallen and the imprisoned, in the name of war. That was Karabo Job’s reality living in Seleke Street – everyday was like something out of a movie. The chirping birds sang to wake him up, but the neighbours contaminated the sweet melodies with insults and violence. He woke up with a start and rushed to the backyard to inspect the source of the noise. There he ran into his sister.

“What’s happening here?” he asked in a rush.

“What else? Betty and Rethabile are throwing underhanded remarks at each other once again.”

“The cause this time round?” he asked.

“A man.”

This was nothing new – two women tearing each other down for scum. The man in question had nothing worth fighting for in the first place. No character, no courtesy, and no money.

He stood there for a minute and then went back inside the house. The entirety of his day was spent studying and watching television during his breaks. Karabo had in previous years been part of the problem. It all started out innocently, when a crew formed for the sole purpose of brotherly union and childlike fun, but gradually became a weapon of misguided acts and dealings. The crew never lost the core fundamental brotherhood, but sadly, it lost some of its own.

In some way or another, the community invested shards of its piercing and scarring glass in him, which caused him to find solace in crime. Those days were long gone, but the memories remained. They always remained.

He spotted a figure in the blinding light and squinted his eyes to see more clearly. Upon recognising the individual, his mouth spread into a smile.

“Man man man. Long time no see getuie.”

“Jesus, it has been years, man. Jy’s nog hierso?”

Lunga, a neighbour turned friend that he hadn’t seen in eons was standing right before him with his familiar, genuine smile. He had grown into a formidable young man, who was successful in his own right.

It pleased Karabo to see that the rot in his community had not captured too many souls. Some, including himself, had managed to break out of the mould.

Lunga asked, “So how have you been man?”

“I’ve been living, man. I’m in school and just holding on. What else can you do?”

Lunga agreed with a nod.

The two newly reunited friends went for a drink or two and talked about the good old days until the sun set. Strangely, living in number five proved to not be all that bad. Sure, his peers lacked direction for now, but one thing they didn’t need was constant criticism.

Tomorrow arrived bearing hope and Karabo was there with his gangly arms outstretched welcoming the new day.

House, M.D says, “Life is a series of rooms. Who you end up with in those rooms has a part in who you turn out to be.”

I think that it contributes, but it does not determine who you become. Sometimes, we as people give our past too much power over our future.