The way to recovery is not easy for Jonasi. The drug counsellor helps him, but the cravings are bad. In the first three weeks he is forbidden to call or WhatsApp his smoking friends as they will try to get him to use again.

Then, when he meets his friends at school or in the streets he tells them that he has quit. At first Bethuel and Rudzani just laugh at him.

“You’re just a sissy,” Rudzani says to him.

In the fourth week, Pretty visits Jonasi at his home. She looks sad. Jonasi is busy watering the bonsais in the back garden.

“I just witnessed a terrible accident,” she says. “Bethu is dead.”

“What!” Jonasi gasps. “What happened?”

“I was with him. We were walking down the road talking about how to get some money for our next fix. Even though I had some mbanzhe we didn’t feel like smoking it. When one gets used to nyaope, smoking mbanzhe … you know how it is …”

Jonasi nods.

“We were so broke and we needed a fix,” she continues. “He saw this lady clutching a purse in her hand. The next minute he snatched the purse from her and ran away. The moment he jumped into the road to cross, a minibus hit him.”

Jonasi gasps. “What did you do?”

“I had mbanzhe on me. I couldn’t even go to him, Jonasi. The police were there. But I called the ambulance. He lay there on the tarred road … blood everywhere.”

“Our friend is gone.” Jonasi can’t believe it.

“I tried to sleep but I can’t. Ever since then I’ve been talking to myself and there was nobody else at home. I came here.”

“My homeboy is gone,” Jonasi whispers.

“Eish! We’ll miss him,” she weeps. “You know what? I am quitting. It’s enough. I’ve done bad things and seen too much ugliness since I started smoking mbanzhe and nyaope.”

Jonasi claps his hands three times, nodding his head. He comes and embraces her for what seems like an eternity. At long last, he lets go and takes her head gently in his hands.

“You are so beautiful, Pretty,” he utters. “Don’t throw your life away. The future can still look brighter.”

She rubs away her tears.

“Thank you,” she says. “You are so kind.”

“You know what,” he offers. “You said you are quitting. If you think you cannot cope on your own, I’ll take you to my counsellor. She is sweet and friendly and can help you.”

“Thank you, Jonasi,” she says. “I don’t have enough words to express how grateful I am. You are such a sweetie. I so wish Rudzani would quit too. There’s nothing good about using nyaope.”

Tell us: Do you believe Pretty is serious? Can she do it?