It was dark, around 11:30pm, the harmattan was already fading, warmer than the morning. I was still in my mum’s shop, with my mum and her customers. My brother had gone to church 30 minutes earlier with his friend. Something about him is, which is something my mum has, too, he is bi-religious. I do not have a problem with that. But the imposition carries a burden in my heart.
I was watching a new video update on Youtube by these African gay guys based in the UK. Adenjowo Damilola, Kevin, Junior Joye, and Tochi. I so much love those guys- especially Junior! Junior’s laughter is the most sought for in this generation.
The costumers got up as it was immediately 11:45pm. I have no idea why. If I thought they were going to worship at a church, I could be a hypocrite, because they’ve had about 2 bottles each, of stout.
They didn’t stagger while they walked, but I felt it would have been a slap on their God’s face, after having alcohol, if they had gone to his “place of connection” to worship and thank him.
My mum was sitting adjacent to the shop, tapping against her phone- maybe she was Facebooking or Whatsapping or sending texts- social media- no idea. All I know is she was tapping at her phone.
As she saw the customers on their way to their car, she advancedly wished them a happy new year, and she added some prayers I was familiar with- the ones she said when she was overjoyous- it was a routine, to me, as she prayed, so I smiled from the shop to reach her, as if to say they didn’t deserve it.
The customers left, and in less than 3 minutes, I had cleared where they sat, especially the bottles and crates. I left the ashes and the brown-bottom of the cigarette unswept. They littered the floor till this morning, after my indoor chores had been accomplished.
Three minutes after I cleared, my mother’s voice got to me from the other side, where she sat, “Close the shop. We are going to church.” I looked at her while she talked and headed to where she sat at the resolution of her statement.
“I will be crossing over inside.” I replied and continued, “Thank God our dad would be home too. I will stay in the house with him.”
She looked at me with this scorn- the type of look you give somebody whom you do not want to affiliate yourself with.
“Do you think at all?” She released. “For God to see you through January 2016 till 2017, you think it is ordinary?” I looked at her, laughed at her, and then, thought if I ever asked for the life.
She said a lot of things to compel me, and I said a lot of things to convince her, including allowing her know how old I would be by July this year. And also, telling her I would prefer to stay at home to pray to God, which I wouldn’t if she went to Church by herself.
I eventually agreed to follow her, which it was about 5 minutes till January 2017 then, after she had agreed that we prayed at home, which I didn’t want to do. I convinced her that we went to the church, after I thought I could have a good experience to share.
Of course, I do.
The church is just by the second gate, close to the main gate of the estate I reside in. It is about 2 minutes walk, of which we left the house 11:55pm, apparently. And we got in the church at 11:57pm.
On our way, I had teased my mum that she got so angry. She even thought, like she’d been doing lately, that I was going mad. I laughed, although, discreetly, till I left the church.
At the church, on getting there, they were in the intoxication of spirit- the one you’d think- as a stranger- was real, but in the mind of the doers, their pain was the spirit. Their fear was the spirit. Their evil deeds were the spirit.
I saw some people lying on the floor- many of them kneeling straight, while others, in genuflect, as if to say they saw the God and were clasping tight at his ankle, for him not leave the hall.
I saw my mum as she joined in the prayers. She took her knees down and bowed, praying fervently, judging through the shake of her body and the spit-words that intertwined.
I knelt after her, behind her, refusing to bow, which I later did when my waist began to ache. my eyes were opened, and I was laughing.
As the pastor was casting out the bad luck of 2017, I watched the congregation set in fire, the prayers were loud. But I just knelt and laughed.
Whenever I saw my mum look back, towards me, I chewed my mouth, as if to say I was indeed praying.
They prayed and they wished themselves a happy new year at about 12:17am. Everybody shook hands, known and unknown. From there, we, my mum and I, were ushered to our temporary seats.
We sat, following the instructions of the pastor, and they had their sermon, citing a woman who lost her husband as a fantastic illustration.
“This woman lost her husband, so me and my wife went to sympathise with her. As we got there, she was in pain. She was bitterly talking against God and asking him questions like, ‘God, why have you done this to me? This is not what we planned’. We looked at her and told her not to use her mouth to sin against the Lord.” He said.
Who has never sinned against their Lord? The pastor himself, framing himself to be perfect, has he not sinned against his God? Is he not?
I looked at all of them as they shouted “Hallelujah”, or some, sighed, like my mum.
They did another prayer following that, and they began to worship through songs and and dances. The beats that would have been interesting for a hip-hop hit.
I saw different dances. Some people dancing “Aja One” steps to their God’s songs.
Two ladies snapped my attention. They were two rows away from us. We came into the church with one of them. The short, fat lady, whose skirt was like two inches above her knees. The other lady had been at the church before us. She was wearing a casual, Evening dress. Nothing bad.
The both of them were there to turn guys crazy with the uplifting and down-lifting of their asses. I laughed and wondered if they won’t turn the pastor crazy.
It was time for offering. And then I realised how my mum took religion seriously.
If I had asked her, normally, for #500, my mum would never give me. My mum slitted #500 into the offering envelope, handed me #200 to do the same, gave aunty Iyabo, one of her Street sisters, #200, to do the same; and one woman, ragged looking, who would beg for money on the street if she was not at the church, she gave her too.
The woman was one of the people who I had said would be pretending the spirit had taken them. The woman was the best laughing and dancing human there. It was funny.
I was already tired of the church. I had done my evil thoughts, so I was ready to leave. There was no how to escape, but an angel heard my heart. Uncle Yomi came to save me.
My mum was told that somebody was asking after her outside by one of the ushers, and when we looked out of the doorway, it was uncle Yomi, my brother’s friend, asking for the keys to the shop, that customers were around. That is how I fled from the church, with the greatest grin ever.
Photo credit: Google.