So we went there one afternoon. Ta Simpra had arranged for us to meet some of the senior people working there, including one of the directors, an older white guy. As always in new situations, I was quiet at first and it was Atie who spoke.
‘I am worried about Mbu,’ he said. ‘He gets so down sometimes. He can’t go on living like a dog. Worse than a dog. And he is a better person than me – Mbu really wants to go to school!’
‘Is that true?’ the white director asked me. I nodded my head.
‘Come and see us again, okay? I’ll talk to Ta Simpra. He’ll speak to your mother and then we’ll let you know…’ the director said.
Three days later we were called back. Unfortunately, there was no bed available at the Children’s Home, but Ta Simpra had spoken to my mother and my Aunt Nompumelelo, and had even phoned Gogo back in Masizakhe to check if I could go and stay with her again.
‘You know the problem here in Masi; your people just don’t have space for you … and it also doesn’t go so well with your stepfather, right?’ Ta Simpra began. How had he got to know all that in such a short time?
He then asked me: ‘What is most important to you in your life, Mbu?’
I did not hesitate for a second: ‘I want to finish school … I want to get my Matric!’ Atie nodded his head in support. Then Ta Simpra said calmly: ‘I phoned your Gogo. She would be willing to allow you to stay in her house until you have passed Grade 12 … what do you think?’
Back to Gogo in Masizakhe? I wasn’t sure. On the other hand, my life here in iKapa was becoming more and more unbearable. And at least Gogo had been okay at Mavusi’s funeral. ‘Can I think about it?’ I asked.
‘Of course…’ Ta Simpra responded.
When we were back in the street, Atie knocked at his forehead: ‘You are funny, man. You are the smartest of all of us. If any of us can get a Matric, it’s you. How can you spoil this offer?’
By the next day I’d made up my mind. I would go back to Gogo. I would be strong. I needed to eat to be able to learn properly. My teacher Mrs Mhlana wrote an encouraging letter to the school in Graaff Reinet, urging them to accept me into the next grade – Grade 10.
It felt as if there were, for the first time, good people out there who were really on my side.
The director of the Children’s Home paid for my bus ticket and even took me to the station in his old car. I promised to write him a letter at the end of my first month in the new school.
I was hopeful that I would work something out with Gogo. I was even prepared to join her at church on Sundays. I was prepared to give back.
Tell us what you think: Do you think it is a good idea for Mbu to go back to Masizakhe?