Haunted by prank on uncle

THE other day I had a nasty dream - a nightmare, really.

THE other day I had a nasty dream - a nightmare, really.

I dreamt I was dead and approaching the Pearly Gates. An angel who worked there as a doorkeeper opened. He had in front of him a large book in which there were affidavits from all the people I had offended.

A s he was reciting my sins, I prayed (too late?) that he did not come to the one embarrassing prank I pulled on my uncle, Kganare Pooe, aka Tankane .

It's been ages since then - I was about 10 - but because I had duped my mother into "carrying" the issue for me, I still feel like a rat for it.

Here goes: a couple of neighbours were doing rounds in the neighbourhood - having a beer here, two there, another elsewhere - until they came to my home to spend some time with my teetotaller, non-smoking dad.

After they left I discovered they had left an almost full packet of cigarettes. I helped myself to one.

The next challenge was to find a hiding place to enjoy it. So I "safely" retreated to the bedroom, crawled under the bed until only my legs (which I could not accommodate because of all the gemors down there) were showing.

Then I lit up. Suddenly the door opened. I could hear from the voice that it was my uncle who lived with us while he studied to be a teacher.

"Jislaaik, what is all this smoke. You are in big trouble, boet ..." he said, pulling me out by the foot.

Grabbing me by the buckle of my belt he dragged me to my mother to report his big find. Mother duly passed me on to my dad to deal with me.

Now, sometimes - very rarely - my dad was rational. This was one such time.

While I stood trembling in front of the old man, a child from the neighbourhood came in to say Uncle Something had sent him to fetch the ciggies.

Applying solomonic wisdom, the old man asked the messenger to ask the owner if there were any ciggies missing. Minutes later the kid was back with the answer that would either convict or confirm my "innocence". By then I had washed my mouth and hands thoroughly to kill the smell.

No, Uncle Something had said, the cigarettes were as many as he had left them.

I wanted to scream hooray and Rangwane Kganare stared at the heavens in frustrated defeat. To make him more miserable, my mother chipped in: "Why do you start such a lie? You must have stolen that cigarette and now you are blaming Charlie ...!"

He said "But Ousie ..." and words failed him. All he could do was throw his hands in the air in frustration while my mom socked it to him, swearing by the honour and innocence of her little Charlie.

My mother went to her grave believing in my innocence, and I might have to face her after this life.

As for Uncle ... I owe you one.