It was around 8 am when I woke up on the 31st December 2009. I realized I had no money to celebrate the day. The money was to buy alcohol obviously. It seemed like everyone was enjoying the day to the fullest, including my neighbours who were the same age as me.

I was in my twenties, living in Lebowakgomo’s zone S phase 3. I took a bath and decided to visit one of my friends, Neo. He had a small market, a stone throw away from my home. The day went by slowly, or maybe it was because I didn’t have any money to entertain myself. But in all honesty, the day was moving slower than other days.

Neo decided to buy four beers of Heineken. He wanted to buy nine, but because he closed earlier that day, we only managed to buy four. It was just after 3pm when we finished the fourth beer. Neo packed up and went to a different small market which was run by his younger brother.

The streets were busy, everyone was so jovial about the day and just like I’ve mentioned before, it seemed like I was the only one who didn’t even have a cent in my pocket. I asked Neo if he could at least lend me R50 and without hesitating he kindly gave me a R50 note. The R50 brought some sort of relief. At least I felt tipsy.

After receiving that R50 I went straight home to ask my mother if she had anything to give me where else I knew very well that she had nothing. Not to mention the fact that we didn’t eat anything for supper last night. I was too lazy to think of anyone else who would actually help me in that time of the afternoon. For about an hour, I felt forlorn because the joy of the 31st of December was overflowing everyone but me.

Suddenly, my mother told me that she had a case of Castle Lite which came from our neighbour, Rose who worked at SAB. I hugged her with great joy thinking that the R50 note plus six cans are more than adequate to get me drunk. I thanked her and decided to visit my rich spoilt cousin Thato in Zone R. Arriving at his home, I found the gate locked and believe me my heart sank. But then I knew all of a sudden that if he was not home, it meant that he was in Zone A. Luckily I found him in Zone A gathered together with his family, having one of those fancy braais.

They welcomed me and greeted me with a plate of food, rice with all those seven colours and a braaied T-bone steak. After eating, my cousin and I moved away from where his parents were sitting and found our own place to chill in the yard. His parents bought him alcohol and he kindly it them with me. It was round about 9pm and the year 2009 was about to be washed away like dirt on a person’s skin.

We were busy discussing the latest hip hop tracks of 2009. We had a number of disagreements though, there was a track called Summer Anthem by Deep Level. My cousin kept on insisting that they were actually called Hidden Force. The disagreements took us all the way to midnight when we said goodbye to 2009 and hello to the world cup year, 2010.
However, after a few minutes I decided to go home.

Reluctantly I said my farewells to the family and went straight home. The streets were very smoky, like the aftermath of shacks that were burnt by fire. Cars were going up and down, pedestrians galore on the streets, others making love in passages and etc. I was still holding my last can, which my cousin gave me in order to chase away boredom on my long way back home. Just after I crossed the tar road that divided Zone A and Zone R, a police van stopped just a few meters from where I was. I didn’t even wait to see if those policemen were coming to me or not, I threw away the can I was holding and ran like a rabbit chased by hyenas. They didn’t chase after me, instead I heard them laugh and they continued on with their journey.

It annoyed me big time to think that I threw away my last can of beer, but that didn’t cramp my style at all because I knew that at home I had six of them, plus the R50 note. Somehow that gave me some kind of satisfaction, plus I was half drunk from the cans my cousin shared with me. I was home within no time. Just before I arrived home though, there was a loud noise and it came from my neighbour who had just bought a new sound system. I found my mother sitting with my other two neighbours, drinking savanna. Without wasting any time, I went straight to the fridge and found my cans perfectly cold.

I quickly opened one and I was left with 5 cans plus R50, by that time it was about 1:50am. As I was sitting alone inside the house a wise thought crossed my mind…. Did I have to go through all of the depression of the previous day just because of booze? Is alcohol the only thing that brings joy and satisfaction to the last day of the year? I didn’t know where those thoughts came from, but they played back and forth inside my mind even when I tried to ignore them. It was like a voice from someone very wise, telling me that the 31st of December was no different from any other day of the year and that I didn’t need alcohol to celebrate the day.

The thoughts made me go back to the beginning of the previous day, the things I went through during that day and also the people I had to visit, which of whom I hardly visit at all, just hoping that I’d get drunk when I was with them. The R50 note I would have to pay back to Neo, all of those things that happened during that particular day.

That’s when I realized that people celebrate the 31st of December in a wrong way. When I say in a wrong way, I mean, by drinking alcohol all night until the break of dawn. All alcohol does is make a person sick the following day and experiencing hangover from hell.

Alcohol will make them pick fights randomly because the truth is; alcohol has a certain control over a person that makes a person feel like they’re untouchable. Like I said, these thoughts were inside my head since I arrived home and sat alone inside the house, with only television entertaining me.

From a brief moment it felt like an invincible angel was stopping me from taking the wrong way and leading me to the right one.
The TV must have made me fall asleep, because my mom woke me up at 4am with the remaining five cans on the table. The first thing that came to my mind was the thoughts that were troubling me before I fell asleep. I reluctantly took those five cans, poured them down the drain and went to sleep.


Tell us: Is alcohol necessary to enjoy a party or celebration?