In Grade 8B Jonasi is sitting at the back of the classroom in one of the age-beaten desks. He looks tired and disorientated. His mother’s words come tumbling into his mind. “Please son, you heard what your father said, behave yourself. What if he kicks you out? Where will you go? Why don’t you respect us? We are your parents. Now tell me here, and be honest with me, did you take the DVD player?

His answer had come in the form of fresh tears flowing down his cheeks.

He looks out the window at the blue sky. He can’t concentrate. He doesn’t even hear the teacher’s voice. He needs a fix. He sweeps his eyes over the entire classroom and sees learners who all appear motivated and determined to do well at school.

Why can’t he be like any of them anymore?

For the rest of the morning he feels irritable. His mouth twitches. His fingers ache. Scratching them alleviates the feeling, but he is scratching his skin raw. If he can say he remembers what happened that morning he would be lying. He needs to get going. He needs a fix to jumpstart his brain, so he can open his books and concentrate.

After school, he walks straight home. His parents are out. He throws his schoolbag onto the sofa and looks at the home entertainment stand: there are two huge speakers, a plasma TV and a space where the DVD player was. He needs something easy to carry.

His parents lock their room every day now. He searches for keys and eventually finds a bunch in the kitchen drawer. He tries them all … one … two … three … and with the fourth the door opens. He steps into their room and sees his mother’s laptop. She saved up a long time for it. He takes it to the kitchen and puts it in a plastic bag. The Top Man will definitely arrange a fix for them for this, he thinks.

But halfway down the garden path he comes face to face with his father. “What’s happening? What are you up to, son?”

The plastic bag is transparent.

“Is that a DVD player?” His father pulls the bag open and sees it is the laptop.

His right hand comes down on Jonasi’s face, sending him spinning and howling. This is the first time Mr Mangilasi has ever laid a hand on his son. He has had enough.

Jonasi ducks and runs out of the gate holding his cheek. Tears stream down his face.

“Jonasi!” his father shouts after him. “Come back home! There’s a rotten worm in your brain. I am going to report you to the police; you can’t hide. You are hurting us and yourself. This has to stop!”

Tell us: What do you suggest Mr Mangilasi does about the situation?