It was early Saturday morning when his parents left home. He helped his mother carry her bags to their car.
“O tlhokomele, Peter. Take care.”
“O lotlele. Lock up.”
“Remember, no strangers in the house.”
“Yes, Mama…” Peter said again. He smiled at his father who was shaking his head from behind his mother.
“Are you sure you’ll be okay?” his mother asked.
“Leave the boy and let’s go, please. We’re going to be late for our meeting,” said his father, “monna, o tlhokomele. Re tla go bona kamoso! Take care of yourself, man. We’ll see you tomorrow.”
When his father called him a man, Peter felt grown up and in charge. Yes, he would take care. He had been left in charge of the home before. It was no big deal, really. His parents knew he was responsible. He’d earned their trust and respect. Right through high school, he remained standing and watched his friends drop, like African teams out of the 2010 World Cup. He knew to say no to alcohol and no to drugs. They were trouble. Everyone knew. He wore his ‘STAY DRY, SO YOU DON’T FRY’ t-shirt with pride. There was no way he was going to let anything or anyone lead him astray. At least, that is what he promised himself, until the day he met David.
David was his best friend, Tshepo’s cousin. He lived in America, in New York. He came home to Botswana on holiday. Tshepo said he should meet him. So Peter went to Tshepo’s house. Five of his schoolmates were there already.
David came up to Peter’s shoulders, but he was more muscly. He wore his jeans low on his bum so they bunched up at his ankles. His sneakers were red and white, and thick-soled. They were the Air Jordans Peter had wanted since he first saw them on TV. David had studs in both ears and wore a Lakers’ cap front to back.
“I need a hit, and you all gotta do it.” David sounded like a teacher giving orders.
No one spoke. Six pairs of eyes followed David’s every move as he pulled out a homemade cigarette from his backpack. It was white and about as long as his middle finger. Neatly rolled and twisted on both ends like a Christmas cracker.
“We’d better go outside, I think,” said Tshepo.
Peter looked at Tshepo. He thought he heard a tremor in Tshepo’s voice. His own legs were shaking and his heart was pounding so hard he was afraid David would hear it. He knew he had to run away before it was too late. David lit up the joint and inhaled. He passed it to Tshepo, who took a small puff and passed it quickly on. Round it went, until it was Peter’s turn.
“Come on, Peter. Try. It won’t kill you. Just try,” Tshepo was saying.
“Don’t be a wimp,” said David.
Peter’s hand trembled as he reached out for the joint.
Tell us what you think: Will Peter share the joint?