After Stella and I had patched things up, I became a real mama’s boy again, showing her nothing but love and respect. But then, just when I had peace of mind, another problem reared its ugly head.

I was in my room doing the homework that I hadn’t finished at the library. “Thulasizwe!” Gogo called, “we Thulasizwe Dube, ukuphi na!

I got up from my chair, wondering what was going on. “Gogo ngila ekamereni, ngiyabhala!

Gogo burst into the room. “Yey wena ungangenzi isilima!” she shouted.

Kamampela Gogo!” I exclaimed, surprised.

When Gogo came closer, she saw that I really was busy with my school work. She stood there looking me dead in the eye. “Mara mntwanami why bowungakhulumi?” she asked.

“Why bengingakutsheli ini gogo?” I asked, confused.

Gogo pounced. “Yey! Sis’ Ntombi told me you’re going to be expelled from school because of your drinking.”

I walked towards her. “Gogo, I’m not going to be expelled, I’m working as hard as I can not to let that happen, I promise.”

Gogo rested her hand on my shoulder and looked deep into my eyes. “My boy, alcohol is not worth the trouble you go through and drugs are not worth the trouble you go through just to get them.”

I looked down at my bare feet. “Askies Gogo,” I said.

“Out of all the people you call your friends, the same people you do drugs with and drink alcohol with, I ask, how many of them do you reckon wish you the best in life?” she asked.

I gave no response.

Gogo went on. “Just because they smile at you and say ‘skyf’, it doesn’t mean they have pure intentions.” She sighed. “You have a bright future, the only thing you have to do is focus on your studies, because knowledge is power and the key to success. Not drinking with teachers, sies man mfana wami, you’re better than that!” she exclaimed.

“Gogo, I’m sorry. I promise you those things won’t happen again, the three months’ probation I got from Mrs Masemola really opened my eyes. I’m no longer skipping class or drinking with those teachers. Actually, I won’t touch alcohol anymore,” I said as I sat down on the bed. “Gogo, actually, I’ve met a girl who helps me with my school work. Her name is Hope Mnisi and I wish for you to meet her someday because she’s helped me make great changes in my life, starting with school.”

Gogo sat down next to me, still looking sceptical.

“Gogo I ask you to believe in me, like you’ve always done and you’ll see I won’t let you down. I’ll bring my grades up, it’s only ten per cent I need. I’m certain that with Hope by my side I can do it!” I pleaded.

Gogo sighed. “Okay, mntwanami, I believe in you and if Hope can help you achieve that goal, then you have my blessing. I wish you the best. Now go finish your school work,” she added.

I gave her a hug. “Ngiyabonga Gogo.”

She smiled. “Ngiyakuthanda mntwanamiudliwayini? You can tell me,” she said softly.

I turned to her. “Eish, Hope, I have a lot on my plate, my mother and Gogo found out about my probation and Gogo didn’t take it so well, she gave me a speech that kept me up all night.”

Hope looked surprised. “I thought you said you didn’t have a mother?”

I turned away. “I know, I am sorry.” I paused and turned back at Hope. “I was ashamed because she had just been released from prison. She was convicted of fraud and now that I look at it in retrospect, I suppose I am to blame in part, because she did it so she could provide for me and Snethemba, my younger brother. I am afraid I might let her down too.”

Hope grabbed me by the arm and gave me a kiss on the cheek. “Don’t worry, I won’t let that happen, I will help you in every way I can.”

I looked at Hope, trying to crack a smile. “Thanks, I don’t know where I would be without you.”

After we had finished studying, I went to see S’bonelo at his place. He was chilling with Innocent, drinking a bottle of Celtic Bay at the back of the house. “Awe gents,” I said.

Innocent jumped up. “Eish, kwashokufika i boza, here sip some of this devil juice.”

I pushed away the bottle, “Nah, ngi grand. I just want something to smoke.”

S’bonelo pounced. “Eh! Awufuni i bhodlela? U Hope ne? Lomntwana ukuphethe ngomthetho, sekakuyekise notshwala!

I took the blunt from S’bonelo’s hand. “Nah boy, it’s nothing like that, we’re just friends.”

“Friends my foot!” S’bonelo exclaimed. He and Innocent chuckled.

After smoking the blunt, I told them I had to go. S’bonelo laughed again as he opened the gate. “Friends my foot,” he said under his breath, but I ignored him. I had bigger fish to fry.

Tell us: What do you think about Hope? And S’bonelo?