“Uhm… I’ve seen you around and today I felt that I just had to at least say hello,” Thabiso said as he introduced himself.

Mabli was a bit surprised and also a bit irritated – how could this guy, with a beer bottle in his hand, smelling of a whole packet of cigarettes, even think of looking at her, let alone actually speaking to her, she thought. But, being the kind of girl that she was, she just said: “Oh, OK… You can say your hello and then I’ll be on my way.”

“Hao, what’s the rush, kanti? Can I at least invite you for a drink? Or, if you don’t mind, I can come over to your room and we can get to know each other better…” Thabiso said.

“Uhm… I really don’t think that that would be a good idea at the moment. Maybe some other day,” Mbali said politely.

“OK, but can I have your room number so that when I’m sober I can come check up on you. Cos I would seriously love to get to know you… please,” pleaded Thabiso.

Mbali gave him her room number and they went their separate ways. On the way to her room she smiled to herself – and this was in a way shocking as Thabiso was the total opposite of who she was. And, he was definitely not good looking. There is no way I could ever be attracted to that, she thought to herself.

One of the great things about living in res was that you could get to meet new people. These friends would become like your new family. Mbali’s close friends were Lucia, Mpho, Thabi and Patronella. They were all in the same class and they lived in the same res. It was as if fate had brought them together.

The one thing that differentiated Mbali from her friends was that she was not so loud and outgoing as they were. It sometimes felt as if she was isolating herself from them – that’s what they used to say – but she never really minded, because it was just her personality that kept her slightly distant.

A few days after Mbali and Thabiso had met, he decided to check up on her, just as he had said that he would.

Mbali was busy with her homework when she heard a knock on the door. She went to open it and there he was. And, he was definitely not looking sober.

“Hao! Thabiso, what are you doing here at this time?” She said.

“Sorry, I thought that maybe this would be a good time to check up on you. But if you’re busy, I can always come back,” he said.

Mbali said: “No, it’s cool. Come in and have a seat.”

Thabiso said: “Thanks, girl. By the way, sorry that you have to see me like this again. It’s kinda hard to approach a girl like you when you’re sober, you know…”

Mbali said: “Sorry, but I can’t say that I understand what you’re talking about.”

The two of them talked till almost midnight. When they were finished talking it was time for Thabiso to leave and Mbali offered to walk him back to his room.

While walking they met up with two of Mbali’s friends – Mpho and Patronella, as they were about to go down the stairs.

Patronella said: “Haibo! Mbali and Thabiso, what are you guys doing up at this hour? Or should I say, what were you doing…?”

Thabiso said, “Hey, Patty.”

“Hao! Kanti, you guys know each other?” Mbali asked.

Patronella explained, “Yes, we come from the same place in East Rand … and he is BAD NEWS!”

Thabiso started laughing, “Hahaha… you are very funny, Patty.”

“Oh, trust me – I was not making a joke,” said Patronella.

Thabiso said, “Well, I guess Mbali will have to decide for herself … once she gets a chance to know me.”

Mpho said, “Patty, can we please leave… this is boring and I’m getting cold.”

Patronella said, “OK, choma. Wena Thabiso I’m watching you. And, Mbali, go to your room, it’s late.”

“OK, Patty. Uhm… Thabiso, I’ll see you around,” Mbali said.