Tabane took Muzi to his room, which was one of the small rooms off the corridor. It had a single bed and a small window which looked out into the garden. Muzi put his bags down and began to unpack them into the single cupboard next to the door. Tabane sat down on the bed.

“If there is anything you want to know, do not hesitate to ask me,” he said.

Muzi had lots of questions, starting with why this rehab was so different from any other he had ever been to. He was used to seeing strung-out addicts in different stages of withdrawal and rehabilitation, but all the inmates he had seen so far looked calm and peaceful.

“Are they always that happy? What do you feed them? Or is it something in the water? I must know,” he laughed as he finished unpacking.

“Just hope, Mr Radebe. They have hope.” The manager spoke clearly and proudly.

He went on to tell Muzi what a haven this was for the troubled. How blessed he was to be here.

“You see Mr Radebe, I promise you, after completing our programme you’ll never want to touch any substances again. You’ll be assimilated back into society a new person. We get the results here. Here you’ll gain a purpose and meaning. Our guru has helped many people.”

Muzi thought of the man in the white robe in the foyer.

“Tell me more about …” he said.

“I could tell you. But it would spoil the raw experience of witnessing his words first hand. All in due time, Muzi. Everything will be made clear. Now here is a pill that you will need to help manage the withdrawal process.” He put a small pill down on the table next to the bed where a glass of water stood.

“You may join us for supper in the dining hall, just off the foyer, at 8, or perhaps you would prefer to sleep. Tomorrow morning breakfast will be at 8:30, then exercise.”

“So when is the first counselling session?” asked Muzi.

“Oh no!” Tabane smiled. “No, no. We don’t have counselling sessions here. Not like the ones you are used to. We have a highly effective alternative. But all that will be revealed tomorrow. For now, just relax.”

After Tabane had left, Muzi took the pill. At least this part of the process was familiar to him. And he needed all the help he could get to help with the terrible withdrawal.

The pill started to take effect and as he lay on his new bed in his new home he felt happy for the first time in a long time. Yes, the inmates might be different, but different was good, wasn’t it. He had always felt different too. And they were calm and happy. Here were people who didn’t pass judgement, who listened without talking over …

Muzi felt sure that here things were about to change for the better. That he’d become better. That he would be alive again like in his teens. He felt relaxed and at ease as he drifted into sleep.


Tell us: Have you ever felt you needed a new start? When?