Muzi woke up to find another red and white pill on a plate next to his bed and the glass had been refilled with water. As he sat up to swallow the pill Tabane knocked on the door and then entered.

“Good morning Mr Radebe. Hope you slept well. After you have washed up, join us for breakfast in the dining room.” With that he was gone.

As Muzi entered the dining room he was met by friendly beaming faces. There were only two people left in the line queuing for food at the canteen, the others had already fetched theirs and were sitting at a few long tables in the centre of the room, waiting to eat.

The man and woman ahead of him in the queue looked nervous and agitated, unlike the rest of the inmates. The woman must have been in her thirties, but her face was ravaged by drugs, which made her look older. Her cheeks were sunken and her eyes looked haunted. The guy was skinny and his eyes flickered from side to side warily as though he expected attack from any direction.

Perhaps they were new like him, thought Muzi as he got his food and went to sit down with them. Yes, they must be new arrivals who had not undergone the treatment Tabane spoke of.

Before he started eating Tabane appeared with the guru. Everyone turned to the guru and together they chanted: “We’re all one. And all is one.” The guru lifted his hand, as though in blessing, and they all started eating.

After breakfast the guru addressed them all again. He stood in the centre of the dining room and looked straight at Muzi, then at the skinny guy and the woman with the ravaged face.

“We have new brothers and a new sister amongst us who have yet to shed the dead weight burdening their shoulders. They’ve yet to meet their true selves. They will be opened like vessels so that the process of healing can begin. Take care of them, and spread the love, joy and kindness.”

The rest of the day was spent in meditation in the courtyard and yoga outside in the gardens. Muzi had done yoga at other rehabs and he enjoyed it. It felt familiar in this strange place where nothing else did.

After lunch Muzi went to rest in his room where another pill was waiting for him on the bedside table. After he had taken it the rest of the day became a blur. He couldn’t recall anything that had happened by the time night fell. He must have found his way back to his bed because he woke up with a thick head fully clothed the next morning. Again there was a pill waiting for him.

The next day followed the same pattern and soon the outside world began to feel very far away.


Tell us: Is this a cult? What is dangerous about cults?