If I thought school was bad, home is even worse. I get home at 4.55 p.m. after the first detention.

“Where were you?” Piko asks me as I walk in the door.

“School,” I answer roughly.

“Think I’m stupid? School ends earlier.”

I lie: “I joined the soccer team.”

“Which one – the boys’?” he says sarcastically.

I ignore this, start walking toward my room.

“Not so fast. Lizo and Dumisani are coming around later to watch the game.”


“Don’t act stupid. We need beer, food. And you must clean the house.”

He’s right about cleaning the house. Even though I mop and sweep every third day, he manages to make it filthy.

Like his personality.

“I need to do my homework.”

“Screw homework. Live a little. Go to the shop. Three six packs. Windhoek. Then go to Tshaka’s and pick up some chicken.”

I might as well be a waitress. I snatch the note from his hands and leave. I’m glum as I make my way down the street toward the bottle store.

Where does this money come from? How come he has money to spend on alcohol, but when I need new school shoes, he says money’s too tight?

I get to Lolly’s Liquor; I know the guy who works the till here. His name’s Vusi and he’s pretty cool. Once I was short about a rand for something and he let it slide. I buy the three six-packs as instructed.

“You should smile once in a while,” he says, as I leave.

I give him the fakest smile I can imagine, and he laughs, moving on to the next customer in line.

Tshaka’s is crowded. It’s the long weekend and everyone is buying meat for the braai. I have to stand in line for about twenty minutes before I get to the counter. I get two whole chickens, six drumsticks and twelve wings.

It’s six by the time I get home. I change into shorts and a vest and start to clean the house. I move the furniture so I can sweep. Under the main couch is a slip of paper. I pick it up. It’s a handwritten note written in pencil and I can recognise Piko’s writing.


Tell us: How do you think Piko gets money?