Laugh now, cry later

01 May, 2022 - 00:05 0 Views
Laugh now, cry later Clive Chigubhu

The Sunday Mail

Bruce Ndlovu
Bulawayo Bureau

THERE is a certain smell that one encounters when they enter a hospital. It is a distinct smell that welcomes you before you have even set foot in any ward.

Simple science says that this ‘‘hospital smell’’ is just the simple interaction of different chemicals that are used across the globe to disinfect healthcare facilities.

In most hospitals, aqueous phenol solution, because of its ability to kill bacteria, has been used for decades, giving hospitals their own distinct odour.

However, most people perceive hospitals’ own ‘‘perfume’’ differently.

The ‘hospital smell’ is like an unseen cloud that lingers over us, unseen and menacing. While hospitals are intended to be a place of healing, due to the fact that remedies do not work all the time, they are unfortunately also the home of death.

That is why so many of us hate hospitals and their smell.

That smell is a malevolent vapour that reminds us of that time when we lost someone we love, or when we were sick and hapless.

When I sat down with Clive Chigubu in July 2019, he was sick of that hospital smell. Clive had disappeared from my life for the best part of two years, and whenever I had brought up the topic of him coming back on stage, he would brush it off.

So, when he walked into our newsroom, my mind was already clinging onto the idea that Clive had become a drunkard or an addict of some unknown addiction.

To my surprise, he broke the news that he had been in and out of hospital for months, and at one point had been told that he might never be able to walk again.

He told me of his slow and painful journey towards recovery, and how hospital staff would caution him to take his time as he tried to rush his recovery.

He just could not wait to be out of that hospital, away from the scent of death which, to him, now always bought a whiff of sadness.

He wanted to be out in the world again, out on stage in front of laughing faces and far away from that ward in which he woke up one day and found that the man next to his bed had died.
During that interview two things stood out.

One was Clive’s determination to beat the odds at all costs, to always have the last laugh despite whatever cards life dealt him. The other was his determination to never allow his suffering to become public knowledge.

Clive was a man who always preferred to go into single combat against the most formidable of his demons.

He never wanted his sickness, then and now, to become public knowledge. It is perhaps the same reason why he only reached out two weeks ago about his latest bout with cancer.

Perhaps, as a man who had grown accustomed to making people happy through laughter, he was reluctant to see them cry on his behalf. I have no doubt that on his funeral, he would have preferred us to laugh, then cry later when his body was now embedded in the earth.

Sure, he might be gone from this world but the smiles, the laughter will embalm the memory of the true Clive Chigubu.

When we sat down for that interview in 2019, I was struck by how Clive’s spirit seemed completely untouched by the ordeal he had just been through. He did not seem to have that dark cloud of sadness, so common with those that have had a brief flirtation with death, hanging over them.

It was as if death had breezed past him and he could only glance back at it with a smile.
It was the same impression he gave again last week when I spoke with him.

Even as the untreated cancer spread around his body, Clive would sneak in jokes about what he was going through. Life had given him a Will Smith clap, he said of his cancer.

As we texted back and forth, and my worry deepened with every paragraph that he sent me, Clive − the owner of the grief, telling me not to grieve more than the bereaved. Until the last moment, even when he had lost his voice, he was still laughing in the face of death.

To his last, he was a man who insisted on looking at the glass, or rather chigubu, as half-full instead of half-empty. Clive Chigubu was not just an act, it was who he was and even last week, as death’s knock became louder, he could not help but be himself.

On stage, people gave Clive credit for his endless bag of jokes which made every Clive Chigubu a laugh-a-minute episode.

But Clive was more than that. He was the cheeky devil who ran where angels feared to tread.
For example, many comedians prefer to stay far away from Shona-Ndebele jokes, because the issue of tribe, in any part of the globe, is highly sensitive.

In the wrong comedian’s hands, jokes about tribe can be a sledgehammer, destroying fragile community bonds that are not so easy to rebuild when they come down. In Clive’s hands, however, the jokes were a scalpel, and with surgical precision, he would dissect the little things that make us one people despite our differences.
Perhaps, as the son of a Shona father and a Ndebele mother, Clive always felt like he belonged to everyone and when he got on stage, it was clear that he did.

During any of his sets, it never felt like we were laughing at each other but rather, laughing together.
In less than two years, Zimbabwe, and Bulawayo in particular, have now lost Chigubu and Cal_vin, two young men cut down in their prime.

One cannot help but draw parallels between their short and promising lives.
They were two young men with an incredible love for hip-hop.

Clive could not rap, at least not as well as Cal_vin, but he told me that his comedy writing style was inspired by rappers, and he would make sure that he would make his punchlines sting like the best of rappers.

Both were young men who were proud fathers and hoping to shape the lives of their children in a way that their own fathers never did.

Coincidentally both of them rose to prominence at the same time and in Bulawayo, one can safely say we had never seen any of their kind before.

In the space of a year and half, both are gone and the void that they have left, will be hard to fill.
Showbiz journalist will, without a doubt, waste several barrels of ink heralding a “new Cal_vin” or a “new Chigubu”.

As he makes his way to the afterlife, it is a sure bet that Clive does so with a smile on his face.
As he departs, he probably wishes people bid him farewell with a laugh and a smile. As we grapple with the enormity of his loss, for now we should laugh.

The tears will come later. Rest In Peace, Clive Vistarolice Chigubu.

He was laid to rest in Bulawayo yesterday, in a final show with artistes of all genres on tour. He died at 31 years, and left behind a wife and a daughter aged five.



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