One’s first year at university is the year that no student ever forgets. It’s the year when you find new friends, have new and exciting experiences and when you get your freedom! You are free from your parent’s nagging you to do your homework, clean your room or wake up early for no good reason. Really! A girl needs some space.

Mbali’entle – meaning beautiful flower – was indeed as beautiful as her name. She had brains too. She was just one of those girls who did well at school, did her community work and was well-respected in her neighbourhood. All little girls wanted to grow up to be just like her. And, mothers wished that she were their daughter.

Early on a Monday morning in January Mbali got a phone call from an unknown number.

“Hello, Mbali speaking,” she said.

“May I please talk to Mbali’entle Xaba,” the lady on the other end asked.

“Yes, that’s me.”

“Well, ma’am, I’m happy to inform you that we are awarding you a bursary to further your studies. Please come into our offices before Friday to sort out your file,” the lady said.

Mbali was so happy after the phone call. It was just the kind of news she needed to hear, especially as her mom had died the previous year and she felt alone and uncared for.

God really works in mysterious ways, she thought.

Soon after registration, she moved into her new room at res. And, she was quick to make friends.

It wasn’t long before she and a popular guy called Thabiso met up. Thabiso was indeed popular… but not for good things. He was the kind of guy who drank alcohol from Monday to Sunday. He was with different girls all the time. And, he was a senior who never gave a damn about his education.

“Hey my name is Thabiso and you are?”

“I’m Mbali…nice to meet you.” Mbali greeted him.