Mzi was halfway through his metre-high pile of paper. His father had insisted that he work in the family business during the holiday. It was a small office with only five staff members, excluding his dad, and Mzi still didn’t really understand what the ‘family business’ was all about anyway. Despite the small number of people, they managed to generate an enormous amount of paperwork, which they now didn’t seem to want. Mzi’s job was to direct the unwanted pages of Cedric’s company through the shredder.

He had nearly broken the ridiculous machine yesterday, when he’d tried to shred a handful of pages – instead of just five at     a time – like the secretary had told him. After the IT guy had managed to fix it, he was moved to the middle of the office, where the secretary could keep an eye on the number of pages he fed into the machine.

He felt like he was going to go mad. Thank goodness his father was letting him out the house at night. Other 19-year olds didn’t have to ask their parents to go out at night. It was ridiculous. He should have gone straight to university and not bothered with post matric. He was still being treated like he was at school. He yawned and watched the document crunch into strips, filling   up the entire bottom of the machine. Mzi decided it was time to

throw it out and grab another cup of tea, so he told the secretary he was going to empty the shredder basket. She responded by barely lifting her head and nodding in approval. As he made his way towards the back door and the recycling depot, he heard a voice he recognised coming from inside his father’s office. He walked to the office and saw through the glass door that his father was speaking to Anathi, Karabo’s mother. Mzi knocked and opened the door.

‘Sorry to interrupt, Dad, but I heard your voice Anathi and I just wanted to say hi’.

Cedric, a tall man with a now-wide middle nodded his head at Mzi. ‘Of course, my boy,’ he said.

‘Mzi!’ said Anathi, standing up and walking over to him, to give him a hug. ‘How are you? My goodness, taller and more handsome!’ she said, winking at him. Mzi smiled shyly and looked down.

‘I’m good thanks. How are you? And Karabo? Is she staying here with you?’ asked Mzi.

‘I’m also good, and Karabz is too. In fact, and I probably shouldn’t say this, but she is a little too well. She has been going out with that boy Buzz. Do you know him?’ Mzi nodded. ‘Well, they have been playing basketball and going to the movies, all that sort of stuff. Is he a nice boy Mzi? I know I can trust your judgement.’ asked Anathi, looking into Mzi’s eyes.

Trying to hide his surprise at Anathi’s disclosure, Mzi responded, ‘Yes, Buzz is a cool guy. We played rugby together, and ya, he’s smart too.’

Anathi smiled approvingly. ‘Well, you must get in touch with Karabo, you could all go to a movie together. Anyway, lovely seeing you,’ said Anathi, before turning back to Cedric. Mzi nodded, retreated and closed the door.

Mzi picked up his basket of shredded paper and, as slowly as he could, made his way out of the office to the paper recycling bins. He leant against the wall outside. He was desperate to avoid being stuck in the office — with his father’s evil secretary watching him count five pages before shredding them. He couldn’t help being curious about Buzz and Karabo seeing each other in Joburg. That was interesting. They had dated last year, and had always been friends. So it could be a completely innocent friendship. He wondered how William would feel about this. William definitely cared for Karabo — more than he cared for most other people. Then again, that didn’t say much, because William was emotionally evasive and possibly stunted. That didn’t mean that William liked Karabo in that way though. Mzi had gone out with William to a few clubs in Joburg last December, and he’d left the club with a different girl each time. He could turn on the charm if he wanted to. It never lasted though; as far as Mzi could tell, he and Karabo were the only friends William had. Isla and William were clearly not fond of each other but maintained decorum because of Karabo.

Mzi checked his phone. It was midday – time for his requisite one-hour lunch. Before he went inside, he sent Karabo a message:

‘Hey, just saw your mom. She says ur hanging out with Buzz. Let’s do a movie tomorrow if you guys are free?’

***

Question: Does Mzi like working at his dad’s office?