A WEEK after Lazzo and his mentor escaped into the night from a woman’s dungeon, he was back to his old ways.
He had fled and avoided lynching for daring to spend a night in a woman’s house he had met at the watering hole.
A thicket of an overgrown hedge outside an adobe brickwall house was his brief asylum as his pursuers retreated in frustration. They had lost sight of the fleeing pair in the darkness.
This time, Lazzo was in one of several watering holes dotted in the hood gleefully imbibing.
Occasional laughter amid merry-making hung in the air polluted by choking cigarette smoke.
As a non-smoker, Lazzo thought he was often gasping for breath in the two-roomed house.
He could not stop smokers from their lung-infecting habit which he thought was also a perpetual menace.
The home-made brew made from yeast and boiled tea leaves mixed with sugar was being poured from a plastic container.
Each one of the partakers had a small plastic cup which was abruptly filled to the brim and gulped down in one swig.
A series of conversations were taking place among patrons most of whom were evidently past their inebriation stage. Past this phase, typical imbibers would begin to experience slurred speech and sometimes petty tiffs would crop up.
He looked back to that fateful night in flight with his mate on his heels as he recalled that chilling feeling of survival from a pack of hooligans in hot pursuit.
It was here in the past at the height of those rare clampdowns on illicit breweries when patrons would run into the brewer’s bedroom and hide from the law.
If found sipping, the somewhat sweet beer knicknamed ‘Mama
Beer’patrons caught napping would be whisked away.
It had been a long time now as too much water had passed under the bridge with democracy dawning on all fronts.
The imbibing had reached a climax in the dead of night and Lazzo was making advances at this woman. Everyone else minded their business.
Her dwelling was behind a cluster of houses in the hood while the ensuing chatter between them indicated he would spend a night in her house.
She was a blonde by virtue of her wig which Lazzo thought made her look glamourous. The woman was an elegant five-footer with a rare hearthrobbing radiant smile with a shiny glint in her eyes.
Lazzo was one of several men in recent times who found sanctuary there and shared a meal with her.
Lazzo noticed that she had become a professional ‘hooker’ and it seemed this made life easier for her apart from the sipping pastime in the home-made brew dungeon.
She lived alone here but the grapevine speculated that she had a regular male friend who acquiesced to her behaviour commonly known as a pimp.
There were whispers that the man would sometimes come to her aid from the adjoining room if a client failed to pay for their entertainment.
He was also rumoured to even sleep under the bed and pretend that he was not there but wary that his woman was in brisk business!
Lazzo had heard many such stories in the hood but this one proved comical and out of the ordinary!
He had put up for the night without incident and at sunrise, his breakfast was what was popularly known as ‘babaraza drink’.
The ‘babaraza’ guzzle is taken in the morning and for alcoholics before they go for work.
It usually turns out that those engaged in menial jobs express a knack for early morning guzzling. “It would be quiete unsettling for an office environment to engage in ‘babaraza imbibing’!”, Lazzo thought let alone any alcoholic drink.
However, Lazzo once knew a bricklayer whose trowel shook unsteadily when he was sober. His grip became firm after a few sips of the famous ‘kachasu’ drink.(illicit gin).
He was the same man in a drunken stupor once chased everyone from home including children as he became like one shifting to another place.
He placed furniture and other goods outside and ordered everyone to leave him in peace.
But soon after this, he fell into a deep sleep as his wife shifted the goods back into the house.
Lazzo observed that the local gin had a hallucinatory effect on imbibers and very close to drug addiction.
A very high grade of this ‘gin’ would produce a flame when sprinkled on some pieces of charcoal.
Lazzo contemplated the ghastly consequences of that chemical reaction in the stomach!
Lazzo had parted with some money which was used to buy a chicken in the morning. Somehow, his wallet had become thinner than he expected and he felt that some banknotes had been removed.
Deep down his heart, he knew that at some point, he had fallen into deep sleep and something happened to his wallet.
He was in a pensive mood as he realised what had happened. However, she thought the woman was a lesser evil since she did not take everything like many of them did!
Lazzo felt like someone who was being taxed twice for sleeping out but he was consoled by the remaining cash and that it was futile to cry over spilt milk.
Like the slantforehead man once pointed out at the watering hole when a beer bottle slipped out of an imbibers hand when he was trying shift his position by the counter . “You cannot pick up spilt water back into a cup…”
Suddenly, there was a cluster of women at the house and were helping to fry the chicken. The sun was already blazing hot through what began as a chilly morning.
Lazzo made an interesting observation: Four of these women slept here but retreated when there was a client who slept on the bed with any ‘hooker’.
The rest shared a sprawling reed mat in the other room. He had been too drunk to notice as he entered the previous night.
This new day, the celebrated women of the hood were bracing for another merry-go-round at the exclusive ‘Mama Beer’ dungeon.