The school secretary was a young woman who seemed to recognise me from the old times: ‘Gosh – you are a real man now, Mbu!’
‘Not yet!’ I answered with a smile. Here, at least, I felt welcome.
‘See you tomorrow. We start at eight,’ she told me after I had completed all the forms. ‘Grade 10 is in the grey building opposite the yard…’ She pointed it out to me.
From there I went to the PEP store nearby and bought all that I needed, even underwear and some extra t-shirts. From the rest of the money I purchased a small mint chocolate, as I knew that this had always been Gogo’s favourite.
It was early evening when I returned home and all the other kids were around. Some greeted me in a friendly way, others just ignored me. Gogo acted as if she did not see me.
When bedtime came, I still didn’t know where I was going to sleep. There were no spare beds in Gogo’s house. Not a serious problem; I was prepared to share like in the old days. Before long everybody was in bed and Gogo, too, had withdrawn to her room. She still had not spoken to me, not a single word. I had just begun to put a blanket down on the floor of the living room when one of the boys came out again and talked to me in a low voice: ‘Usandikhumbula – do you remember me? I am Ababalwe, one of Gogo’s grandchildren…’
Yes, I knew his name and, indeed, I remembered little Ababalwe. When I’d last seen him he was not even at school yet. ‘How old are you now, Ababalwe?’ I asked him.
‘Twelve!’ he answered proudly. I did not tell him that I’d thought he was ten at the most. He offered to share his bed with me and I accepted gratefully. I fell asleep almost immediately.
The next morning, Gogo was still not speaking to me. I knew from experience that her bad moods could sometimes last for several days. But then suddenly they would be over. Like blue sky reappearing after a bad storm.Before I left for school, while she was dressing in the bathroom, I put the small mint chocolate on the little cupboard next to her bed. I left without even a goodbye from her.
This silent treatment went on for another two days. I was allowed to eat with the others, but she refused to talk to me. What was she thinking all that time? Was she making plans to get rid of me?
Tell us what you think: What do you think Gogo will do?