It was after dark when we arrived back in Masi. I said goodbye to my mom and headed straight for Atie’s place. It was already late by that time, and since there was no light in his father’s shack, I went straight to our little palace. I wanted to tell him everything about my brother’s funeral.

It was also dark in the caravan but the nearby street light made it easy to find your way. The moment I opened the unlocked door and stumbled inside, I felt that something was different. There was somebody else sleeping in our bed next to Atie, but I could not make out who.

‘Atie?’ I said uncertainly.

At first, there was no movement at all. I called his name a second time and touched the blanket where his feet were. The other person was fully covered by the blanket, even the head, and did not move at all.

Finally, Atie’s head and shoulders appeared: ‘Uxolo – sorry, Mbu, it just happened…’

I still wasn’t sure what was going on. But I felt really stupid. ‘She just joined me, you know…’ There was a pause, and then he continued: ‘It’s Unathi.’

Of course I knew Unathi. She was much older than Atie, even a bit older than me. A cute girl, and a sexy one. But I have to tell you, Unathi was also trouble.

We all knew that she’d done ‘it’ many times already. And when she was drunk or on tik, she did it with everybody, for another drink or some food.

‘Does your dad know?’ I said to Atie.

‘Are you crazy?’

‘Will she stay the whole night?’

‘Come on, Mbu, it’s just this one night. She’s really good. I even gave her cash.’

Then he said what only Atie could have said: ‘Do you also want? I can ask her and wait outside…’

That was Atie. How could I be angry? For a moment I really didn’t know what to do. Is sharing a girl like sharing clothes or food? This Unathi was really cute, no question. I don’t think she was stupid, either. I’d heard stories that she always had condoms with her and demanded that the guys used them. But what about when she was really drunk or on tik?

I stood there gazing at my friend Atie. He looked stronger than me, even though he was so much younger and smaller; I could see the muscles on his arms and shoulders. He was patiently waiting for my response to his offer.

At last I shook my head. ‘Ndidiniwe – I’m just too tired, Atie. I’ve spent too many hours in the bus. Maybe next time…’ I took my small bag and went out, closing the door from the outside. Through all of this I had not even seen Unathi. But I knew that Atie would never lie to me about something so important.

Somehow, I felt that this had been something important. A new and important stage in our lives. But only if you understood what it meant. I didn’t really get it at the time.

Tell us what you think of Mbu’s story so far.