The Breeze Nightclub was already packed when I arrived there at 7P.M. It took me several minutes to be served by the female bartender, whose face was thickly painted like that of a doll. When I finally got my pint of Castle Lager, I threaded my way to the corner where some patrons were standing together in a huddle, watching a game of pool.

This was my first visit after nearly four years. I looked around hoping to catch a glimpse of somebody I could recognise. The revellers all looked complete strangers.  I shifted my attention to a group of five ladies who were dancing to the beat of sungura.

At the centre was a lady with blonde braids and she was shaking her bottom as if possessed by some extra-terrestrial force. Not to be outdone, was the large woman whose prowess was accentuated by the fascinating vibrations of her body. The other ladies were clapping their hands and cheering, ‘halalaaa…vapei moyo!’ One was in red shorts, another in a corduroy dungaree, and the last in a strapless blouse and mini skirt.    

When the radio started playing the song ‘Ida Anokuda’ by the Khiama Boys, the blonde woman screamed with joy and flung herself upon a policeman, who had just arrived, clasping her arms around his neck and her legs around his waist.

‘Ha! ha! ha!’ The nightclub reverberated with laughter and one gentleman took off his jacket and draped it over the shoulders of the sergeant, who continued dancing with his partner. An infectious happiness seemed to have descended on everybody. I was delighted to be at the right place, at the right time.

On my way to get another beer, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I whirled round and found myself face-to-face with a lanky fellow who appeared to be in his late thirties. This man was wearing faded jeans and a T-shirt inscribed ‘COLORADO’ at the front.

Zviri sei-sei, mdara?’ The man greeted me with a husky voice.

‘I am alright. What about you?’

‘Umm…not the best of times,’ he grumbled.

‘Don’t worry; it won’t last forever,’ I said.

‘Hope you’re right,’ he answered without conviction.

‘Well…have we ever met before?’

‘No, I just wanted to say hello to you. My name is Robert Guta’

‘Okay, that’s good of you,’ I said, nodding my head. ‘All right, what can I get you to drink?’ I asked after convincing myself that he harboured no evil intentions towards me.

‘Golden Pilsener, thank you,’ he said, and a smile flashed on his face.

When I returned with our drinks my new friend led me to the platform where we could see everything that was taking place in the nightclub. We sat down and resumed our conversation.

‘By the way, my name is Gomba, I am based in Harare,’ I said.

‘Oh! You wouldn’t believe I was once a big shot there!’ Robert said with a nostalgic look on his face.

‘Really? What was your occupation?’                                                                                                                                                                                                            ‘I was a Manager at Renaissance Motors. This job enabled me to provide for my family but everything changed in 2008 when the company relocated to South Africa.’‘Ha! That was terrible!’

‘Yeah, it was bad but life has to go on,’ Robert muttered.

He took a swig from his bottle and his eyelids twitched as he savoured the pleasure in the partaking of his favourite beer. For a moment, I peered at him and tried to imagine myself in his shoes. This thought made me sick at heart and I turned to look at the hullabaloo which erupted from the snooker corner. When the noise died, I noticed the fellow with dreadlocks shoving something into his pocket before picking up his stick to face another opponent.

Hauite mufana…sota munhu, tsika musoro!’ A man wearing a straw hat said, patting him on the shoulder.

When Robert placed down his empty bottle, I gave him a couple of dollars to go and order some more beer. After a while, he returned in the company of a beautiful lady I had not seen before. The woman’s weave hung in loose tendrils around her face and the smell of perfume hit my nostrils when she sat down opposite me.

Mudhara…this is my friend, Sandy.’ Robert said with a mischievous twinkle in his eyes.

‘I’m glad to meet you,’ I said as I stretched my arm to greet her.

‘And me too.’ She gave me a tentative smile.

‘What about a drink?’ I asked.

‘Not right away,’ she answered, brandishing a Castle Lite.

There was something about this woman’s presence which seemed to demand some kind of action from me. I tried to ignore this notion but, as I continued gazing at her, I felt an amorous sensation spreading over me like a veld-fire.

When the lady turned to chat with somebody, I took this opportunity to whisper to Robert:

‘What can you tell me about her?’

‘Sandy is a very nice lady. Do you like her?’

‘Um…’

‘I swear she is the only woman here worthy talking to.’

‘What’s wrong with the others?’

‘They can easily cause trouble; especially that woman over there,’ he said.

 ‘You mean the one dancing with the policeman?’

 ‘Yes, that jezebel…’

‘Why do you say so?’

‘She is notorious for double booking her clients and this has often led to ugly brawls.’

‘With the way she dances; you should not blame her too much,’ I chuckled.

‘And I also urge you to avoid that large woman dancing next to her. Nearly all her clients wake up the next morning with no idea of what could’ve happened to their monies. One would think she pinches the men’s pockets but it’s only that she knows how to handle her customers and they end up doing anything just to please her.’

‘Don’t listen to his lies, daddy!’ Sandy interjected.

‘What lies?’ Robert retorted.

‘Everything you said about those ladies.’

‘What’s the truth then?’

‘The truth is you despise them because of what they say to you about your former wife.’

‘How many times have I told you I don’t care anymore about her?’

‘Okay, I won’t say much, for now,’ Sandy responded.

The nightclub was now filled with the acrid smell of tobacco and I readily agreed when Sandy asked if we could move out to the courtyard. This place was laid out with wooden benches and tables and people were seated in small groups debating on issues ranging from the recently introduced bond notes to whom between Mourinho and Guardiola was likely to lift the English Premier League.

We snaked our way to the only vacant table at the end of the courtyard and Sandy clung to me like my companion of many years.

Robert, nhasi hautimhorose nekuti uri kurova hutsvuku?’ The man who was drinking Chibuku asked as we passed one of the tables.

‘Iwe Ninja usandijairira, siyana neni!’ Robert angrily shook his fist at him.

Hezvo! What’s wrong buddy?’

‘I know such people like you who hate to see others enjoying themselves.’

‘Okay, you can carry on enjoying yourself, but I guess you wouldn’t mind inviting your former wife over there,’ Ninja said, pointing at the woman who was standing with her partner next to the braai stand.

I saw a poisonous gleam in Robert’s eyes. He raised his bottle high and hurled it at Ninja. The bottle missed its target and there was a shattering noise when it hit the precast wall. Suddenly, we were surrounded by a score of yelling individuals and I felt a hand pulling me away from this crowd.

‘He’ll be alright, let’s go somewhere else,’ Sandy finally said in the car, as she touched up her hair and straightened her clothes.