The next morning, I slept longer than usual. It was already daylight when somebody knocked at my door. It was one of the older boys: ‘Mbu, is it you in there? Get up, man, you can join us for school…’
At Masiphumelele High School I was allowed to continue with Grade 10, although I had missed most of the first two terms. I promised to do extra lessons in order to catch up what I’d missed. That same afternoon, I went to Longbeach Mall to buy the light-blue and grey uniform for Masiphumelele High, with money I had received from Ta Simpra.
I bought black shoes at Ackermans – and paid proudly in cash. At PEP Store next door, I purchased trousers, two shirts and even a jacket against the wind and rain. Nobody recognised me from my last visit, long ago, when I was there with my little friend Modise.
It was such a pleasure to buy, such a pleasure to do the right thing. I was tempted to change everything at the customer service counter, just for the pleasure of going through the whole procedure of buying again, like everybody else. I gave a big smile to the guard at the entrance. He smiled back, innocently, not recognising me at all.
From there I walked straight to my mother’s yard. I wasn’t sure what they had heard about the whole case and what Gogo had told them on the phone. Since Auntie Nompumelelo’s shack was close to the entrance of the yard, I first knocked at her door. She opened it and looked at me angrily.
Despite the cold wind blowing outside she did not invite me in: ‘Mbu – you did a wrong thing. Suka – go away, Mbu! We don’t want to see you here anymore…’
I tried to stop her from closing the door and said: ‘Kodwa, Makazi – but it’s not true. I did not even touch the boy…’ The door closed in my face. I heard her locking it with a chain from the inside. She then turned the radio on. There was nobody at my mother’s shack, not even the children.
From there I walked straight to Yamkela’s. His house was locked, too. Maybe my lucky draw was over?
Although I had two big plastic bags with my uniform in my hand, I returned in a sad mood to my new home at HOKISA. When I entered through the gate, I saw two guys hiding from the rough wind in a corner – my friends Atie and Yamkela! ‘Are you going to let us freeze out here forever, Mbu?’ Atie shouted and I saw a big smile on both their faces.
They joined me in my little room. Atie sat on the bed, Yamkela on the only chair and me on the floor. We talked and talked, until it was dark outside…
I felt I was finally home, not with my family but with a kind of new family. People who cared for me.
Tell us what you think: Do you have good friends like Atie and Yamkela?