Johan looked at Ninja and saw something in his eyes, a pride. He had done the right thing in the end and his dad had walked free, even though he was in prison. Johan wondered what Ninja saw in his eyes: was it loss due to dreams unfulfilled?

The warden came in to tell Johan he had only 20 minutes left with the convict. Johan nodded his head then turned to Ninja.

“Before you finish your story, I just want to tell you now that I am on your side. I will make sure that the newspaper editors don’t smear your name by twisting our words. I will give the story to someone I trust. It will be in next week’s edition of Ghetto Report and everyone will know your true story as you told it to me today.”

“You have inspired me, Ninja. To get on with my life. To do what I actually want to do but have never had the courage to. Thank you, Ninja or should I say, Adam Smith?”

Ninja looked at Johan for a minute, looking at him from head to toe. The man was honest, he felt it in his heart. He leaned closer and gave Johan a fist bump.

“You should be thanking my father. He is the one who raised me. You should go and tell him yourself with a copy of your article in your hand and let him read it in front of you. He loves reading the paper; growing up I used to watch him read the paper all the time. It’s a habit he picked up from his mother, she reads the paper all the time too …” He laughed at the memory.

Ninja and Johan were not just convict and reporter any more. Johan had seen Ninja’s soul and he felt Ninja had seen his too. Johan was the first person Ninja had trusted his whole story too and Johan knew he would not betray that trust.

“Do you know, after my father was set free he came to see me about six times, but three of those times he wasn’t allowed to come in because I was in solitary confinement?”

“Is there anything I can do?”

“Tell my story, my broer, just tell my story, tell my story to all those youngsters in Mrova so they can learn from my mistakes; it’s not too late for them, and I am actually starting to believe it’s not too late for me either, to turn over a new leaf.”

There was a knock on the door. The warden came in with three officers and two of them led Ninja out. Ninja stopped at the door right next to Johan before they left.

“Thanks, my broer.

He extended his arm to shake hands with Johan but Johan pushed away the hand. He gave him a hug and whispered, “Ninja Adam Smith, take care my broer, asseblief.”

The next week, when Ninja came back from exercising to his cell, he found a newspaper folded on his bed. It was a copy of Ghetto Report. The headline was there in bold:

The Whole Truth: life sentence won’t stop this son from doing the right thing by his father

By Johan de Kok

When Ninja opened the paper, a note fell out. He recognised his father’s handwriting. He read the words again and again: I will never give up on you.


Tell us: Have you, or anyone you know, ever had the chance to turn over a new leaf?