Pretty flounces up to Jonasi and Bethuel. “Hi, buddies!”

“Hey, stranger! Where have you been?” asks Jonasi.

“By the food stalls – just having a kota and juice,” she answers. “I am hankering for a zol.”

“I’ve some stuff. Let’s go have it,” offers Bethuel. “You look so good in a school skirt, Pretty. Why don’t you wear skirts outside school? Why do you always wear trousers, like a tomboy?”

Pretty just laughs, and they head for the dilapidated, iron-sheet toilets in the corner of the school grounds.

“Let’s go in here,” Pretty says, leading the way into one of the toilets. They follow.

“This place smells bad,” Jonasi complains. “Look – there’s faeces everywhere.”

“Stop complaining, buddy,” Pretty says. “Some people work to unblock sewerage pipes and drains and you’ll not hear them complain. You need to be tough in this life.”

Bethuel pulls a brown envelope out of his pocket. He opens it. Inside, there’s thin roll-paper, three match sticks, and a half-cut match box filled with dagga mixed with a white substance, and black granules. He prepares a roller paper, grinds some dagga and pours it onto the paper. Jonasi cranes his neck to look at the stuff.

“Why is this stuff different from the one we always have?” he asks curiously.

“You are right. Why is it like that, Bethu?” Pretty looks surprised too. “What did you put into the mix?”

“It’s great stuff. I bought it from my connections.”

“I can’t just inhale anything,” Jonasi said. “I need to know what that black stuff is.”

“I don’t know either, but I’ll smoke it,” Pretty says.

“So you are afraid of death?” laughs Bethuel as he spreads the mix down the paper.

“Who said I’ll die? Okay, I’ll smoke too,” says Jonasi.

Bethuel lights the zol. He puffs for a few moments. As he draws on it, shining bluish smoke spirals from the lit tip and wafts into the air.

“Skyf,” he says and passes it on to Jonasi, who accepts the smoke and starts puffing. After some time, he passes it to Pretty.

“It leaves some dryness in the throat,” he says. “But it refreshes in a way that is different from any stuff we had before. It’s good. What is it?”

“Some call it nyaope,” Bethuel says. “It’s expensive.”

“So, I’ve smoked nyaope?!” shrieks Jonasi.

“And you died?” asks Pretty.

He shrugs. “It’s good in its own way, though. How much is it?”

“R45 per stoop and R150 half box.”

“Eish – so expensive. But we’ll manage to get some now and then.”

“Sure,” Pretty agrees.

When they are finished smoking, they file out of the toilet and go straight to the water tap near the main classrooms. They rinse their mouths with water and drink some. A siren rings announcing the end of break.

Tell us: What do you know about nyaope, versus, say, dagga?