“Hello,” I finally answered.

“Hi, who am I speaking to?” a female voice responded asked.

“Chris. And you are?” I said.

“I’m Lwazi; the girl you helped,”

I paused for a while, wondering why she would call me.

“Oh hello!” I said curiously.

“Yeah, hey. I took your numbers from my father’s phone and thought I should call and thank you for what you did. Sorry I didn’t tell you in person, I was just scared, angry and yeah just in the moment. I want to thank you in person,”

“Nah ku grand, you don’t have to do that,”

“Me saying this over the phone doesn’t sound right,” she said and there was a moment of silence. I didn’t know what else to say. “Look, I will be available Saturday, call me once you have decided if you want to meet up, Bye.”

She hung up.

“Eh, eh, eh! Uyabona ke manje,” I said nervously to myself.

Wee, Chris soyajola? Mama k’mele ayazi ke le,” Ayanda teased and I ignored her.

The next day I went to school, still worried over Lwazi’s call. I told my friends about yesterday’s encounter and their reaction to all this didn’t surprise me. Nothing this exciting or dangerous ever happened in our lives so they were quite thrilled. They saw this as an opportunity for me to date Lwazi; whom they claimed was the most beautiful girl in town.

Yes, she was beautiful, but the fact that she was General’s daughter made me scared of being around her. Later that day while making my way back from school with my friends, General’s car pulled up beside us.

“Chris,” a voice called out from the car. The back door opened and General walked out. My friends kept going walking as fast as they could, leaving me standing there in shock.

Bamba so!” he said handing me an envelope.

I took it and opened it. There was a bundle of R200 notes. My eyes popped. I had never seen so much money in my life, let alone held it.

“What must I do with it?” I asked.

Qina ngayo! Ndlela yam of showing you how much I appreciate what you did izolo,” he said.

“No, Sir. I can’t take this,” I said handing back the envelope.

Hay ndoda thatha le mali (take this money),” he insisted as he proceeded back to the car and it pulled off.

I ran home and hid the money in my room. The next day I got to school and didn’t find my friends at our usual spot. During the lunch break I met up with them.

“Sharp gents,” I greeted kneeling down to take out my launch box. Nobody responded. “Hawu! K’hamban, ngiyabulisa nadonsa i-green?” I asked them.

“Cee, why didn’t you tell us your dad was in gang?” Sbo asked as they all looked at me.

“Ini? Hawa, he was not in a gang. What…”

“It’s all over the school grounds, ndoda. And we saw you with General izolo,” Muzi said before I could finish talking.

“He just wanted to thank me for helping his daughter,” I said defensively.

The conversation ended there and we started eating in awkward silence. Later at home chilling, I got a Whatsapp text.

Still waiting.

Wondering who it was, I responded.

Who r u n wht u waitin 4?.

Lwazi. Saturday is coming up, so? she texted back.

Oh abt tht sori, I cn’t go. Sorry.

It was easier refusing her on Whatsapp than having to hear her voice. She didn’t respond after that.

The next day at school the rumors about my dad being in a gang had gotten worse. I spent the whole day in class; even during break. I received a text from Lwazi later that day.

OK I understand. U dn’t wana mix with a gangster’s daughter. I guess tellin u over the phone was enuf.”

I felt bad so I started chatting and apologized. I didn’t want to sound rude but the fact was that she was right about me not wanting to associate with her because of her dad’s status. We chatted from then on. I learnt that she was just a normal human being who wanted to have an ordinary life, but people judged her because of her dad’s doings. I could relate to her.

We had a lot in common; reading, writing poetry and watching movies. Since my friends had become distant over those rumors about my dad, Lwazi and I quickly grew close. I was fond of her but kept it to myself.

One day after school, I saw the X5 from the other day parked outside the school gate. Just as I was about to get to the gate I saw Lwazi getting out. She walked up to me.

“Hey, unjani?” she said smiling.

Sho, what you doing here?” I asked surprised by her visit.

“I just thought since you didn’t want me to thank you the other day, I would come and do it anyway,” she said.

She leaned and kissed me on the lips, and then she turned and walked away, leaving standing there, shocked.

“And that? I thought you said you wanted nothing to do with her,” Sbo said, bringing me back to life.

“And that didn’t look like nothing to me! Dude, stay away from us; we still value our lives,” Muzi added as they walked away from me.

I went after them to try and explain what happened. They said they believed me but I could see it in their eyes that they didn’t. I ended up promising them that I would stop associating with Lwazi.

I received a call later that night from Lwazi. I didn’t want to answer it but I also needed to tell her that we couldn’t associate anymore

“Hey,” she said sounding cheerful.

“Hello, uhm look…”

“No Chris, please don’t tell me you forgot about the career expo,” she said.

I remembered that I promised her that we would go together. She didn’t have any friends at her school so we had planned to hang out.

“Yeah, eish look, about that…”

Tell us what you think: Do you think Chris should’ve taken the money? Why? Why not? What would you do if you were Chris?