When I look back I find it funny that I can’t remember Bushu’s real name although I worked with him at a boarding school in Shamva for close to two years.
He was popularly known as Bushu, a nickname derived from his home area in Shamva by that name.
But I will never forget his description of the four stages that we go through in our quest for happiness through the bottle.
It was my first time at the local township, popularly known as Corner Store (although of course there were more than three shops) and I was holding my first beer, a Bohlinger’s Lager, for those were the days when Bohlinger’s Lager was the in-thing, it was only second to Zambezi in terms of price.
Enter Bushu onto the scene, with a visibly cold Fanta orange in his hand.
“Ah, so the new teacher drinks.
What’s your name, sir?
I’m Bushu (shaking my hand).
You must be Mudzingwa — Mr Mudzingwa, right?
(I nodded for the man never gave me the chance to articulate my response).
Ah, the green bottle.
Yes, suitable for you teachers, it’s expensive.”
I must hasten to add that there was still some dignity in a teacher’s salary in those good old days.
Bushu was a general hand at the school.
“I pity guzzlers.
Do you know what they go through, the infamous four stages?”
Bushu, I learned later, did not wait for answers when he had a point to make, especially if he had managed to capture the attention of his audience.
I was in a trap and I could only mechanically sip my lager out of politeness.
“The first stage, which interests me more, is the peacock stage.
Your first lager today, I suppose?
(I nodded assent).
It’s clear from your behaviour that you’re still in the peacock stage.
This is the first stage in a guzzler’s pub cycle.
You are smart or presentable and like a peacock, proud of your appearance.
You pick an appropriate place to sit where your clothes won’t even brush against a speck of dust.
You choose your company carefully and if there is music, you might not appreciate the blaring type because you need to converse in a ‘civilised’ manner.
You are the perfect gentleman or lady (glancing at Beauty sitting beside me).
“Then as you take more, your centre softens and gradually you enter the lion stage.
This is the stage where anything can happen or you can make anything happen or you imagine you can make anything happen.
“The first signs may include the pitching of your voice to compete with the music.
Every song played at this stage is sweet and melodious.
The women in the pub start looking more attractive and you begin to form plans of unpeeling one of them.
The macho feeling pervades your entire being.
Tomorrow becomes so far off that you won’t be able to connect it with what would be happening on that day.
“You can blow your entire salary easily, deluding yourself with impractical contingency plans for tomorrow.
You can cancel important appointments; you can challenge Jet Li to a fight, you can build castles in the air, you can lie, exaggerate, fornicate, get into serious debt, instantly create enemies and friends.
You are always right and everybody else is wrong.
You are a busybody.
You can promise anything, for everything would be possible with you.
You have the magic touch; you can even forgive sins.
“Never go to work in this state.
I know somebody who resigned from work in that state only to get surprised the following day when he was shown the resignation letter in his own handwriting.
As you progress within the lion stage, you may totally lose your senses.
It’s at this advanced stage that we say you are drunk.
You’re a nuisance.
Cops can justifiably throw you into the cells for your own safety.
“Imagine being a danger to yourself!
Depending on your type, you may be a terror in your own home;
I don’t want to go into details about what may or may not happen in your bedroom.
“A few more and you enter the third stage, the pig stage.
This is in sharp contrast to the peacock stage.
“You can literally mess yourself and lie in the waste without a hoot in the world.
The gentleman or lady turns into a pig.
You can literally ‘sleep’ through a heavy downpour or a plane crash.
You’re lights out, as they say.
“The fourth and final stage is on the morrow.
It’s the payback stage.
You may imagine that you may have undergone an anatomy transformation, the smell coming out of your mouth! — you may think you now fart through that orifice.
Your mind and body are so disjointed that they are opposing each other.
“The mind can say to the body, ‘Get up!’ and the body has the audacity to say, ‘Go to hell!’
You can easily malinger and cancel important appointments.
The state of your pocket can add to your woes, with hardly anything or such small change that can you can’t even buy bubble gum for your kid.
“Depending on your type, every inch of your body suffers from nausea.
The thought or smell of food can play havoc with your gall bladder.
“But it’s the mental worry that eats you away.
What did you do last night?
You may have fresh scars as testimony or you may be waking up in a hospital, prison, or a whore’s shack, depending on what happened during your reverie in the lion stage.
“Of course, having passed through the lion stage, you will have apologies to make here and there.
What excuse are you going to give your boss for not pitching up for work?
Where will you get the cash for children’s fees, food and other things?
Borrow from Jane, Peter etc?
If the spouse asks, depending on your type, either you lie through your teeth or you are aggressively (sometimes in the physical sense), defensive.”
“At this point Bushu paused, took a sip from his Fanta and looked at me with a gleam in his eye.
“But you look the strong type, the type that can put away crates and crates of lager without moving an inch from the peacock stage.”
Before I could even respond, Bushu had moved away.