Time went on and without my regular visits to Mrs Naki and her siblings my life at Gogo’s would have been much more difficult. I felt that I had another family when I was with them.

By then, I was eleven already. One day I made a bad mistake: I lied to Gogo. She always told us that she would never forgive two things: stealing and lying. But I was just so tired of going to church. So one Sunday morning, I told Gogo: ‘Mamela – listen, Mrs Naki has asked me to come to her house as her sister is very sick and she needs extra help.’

Intoni – what? Can you tell me what disease she has?’ Gogo asked suspiciously.

‘She has a high fever,’ I kept lying. Fortunately, Gogo did not phone Mrs Naki to check on the story.

When I arrived at my teacher’s little brick house, she looked surprised but glad to see me: ‘How nice to see you on a Sunday, Mbu. Did your Gogo allow you to come?’

‘Yes,’ I lied again. The rest of that Sunday was just wonderful, as always when I was there. Mrs Naki, Ayanda and Andiswa prayed before meals but never went to church.

The following weekend I invented a new and more creative story and told Gogo that a water pipe had broken in Mrs Naki’s house and that she’d asked if I could come and help her brother with digging the trenches to the water connection in the garden. Surprisingly, Gogo just looked at me and said: ‘Hamba – go, Mbu!’

I was already at the gate when I heard her calling my name. Hesitantly I walked back into the living room. Gogo grabbed me by my left ear and pulled me up with it until it was really painful. Then she shouted into it: ‘I know that you are a liar, boy! I just want you to know that I don’t take liars with me to church …’

She let me go without further comment. I was surprised at how easily I’d got off. The other kids went to church as usual but I stayed home.

When I told Mavusi later what happened, he just looked at me. Then he said: ‘Mbu, do you always think you are special?’ ‘No,’ I responded, ‘but Gogo is not like a mother to us … she is like a general.’ I could see that he did not want to talk to me. It made me so sad.

Tell us what you think: Why do you think the relationship between Mbu and Mavusi changed? Have you experienced a similar thing?