“Sbusiso!” Grandma stood beside my bed; despair was clearly displayed through her voice, posture and facial expression. “I don’t care. I don’t care if you fail your June exams and I don’t care if this will make you think of me as less of a Christian. I just need you alive, my boy!”

“Call Sir Mahaye to come fetch me Grandma. If I can be carried to a desk, I’m sure I can write my exam,” I said, wincing in pain.

I was in a foetal position on my bed. My intestines felt like they were being sucked in like spaghetti by a little monster inside my stomach. But I was sure I could still write and pass the English exam that morning.

However, I fell asleep and woke up on the floor of MaNgubane’s rondavel.

“That’s stupid! Why did you let the boy stop doing the ritual?” MaNgubane asked Grandma. I couldn’t see her face but she sounded livid. “Now look what listening to this child has done? Is this what you wanted? Are you happy now?”

Grandma didn’t reply. MaNgubane lifted my head and made me drink a concoction that tasted extremely sour – it was 10 times more bitter than a lemon. I frowned.

“This will heal his stomach cramps,” MaNgubane said. “I’ll give you more for him to drink daily until he’s fine. But you must continue the ritual.”

I fell asleep again and woke up at home feeling a little better, but very sleepy. I could faintly overhear Mr Mahaye and my grandma talking.

I didn’t continue the ritual. The pain eased in my stomach. But thanks to Mr Mahaye, I was able to recover the marks I had lost from not writing a few June exams.

I studied three times as hard for my trials and then four times as hard for the finals. And I finally got my straight As in the end of the year.


Tell us: What’s your opinion now? Should he have trusted maNgubane to heal him throughout? Is it because of her ritual or her herbal medicine, or neither, that he healed?