Mother said people who don’t go to church will die like chickens. Every time I visit, she’ll remind me of how Tobi our neighbor was crushed by a truck because he refused to accept Jesus and how Aunt Helen did not have a husband because she will not go to church. I’m going to be in her house for the next six months and it already feels like eternity. We are having one of such conversations today and the tone is same.
“The house of God is the best place to be. I don’t want your life to be useless”
“Mummy, my life will not be useless, I’ve planned it all out”
“You’ve planned it all out? Did you create yourself?”
“Do you want God to punish you? What happened to you eh? You used to be very committed to the work of…”
“Yes, I used to be committed to doctrines and pleasing pastors.”
She placed her hands on mine and stared at me with tender affection. Her tone was intense but calm.
“You have nothing to lose Rita. It’s better to believe in God and then die and discover there is no God than to not believe and then die and end up in hell. I don’t wish hell for even my worst enemy.”
I rolled my eyes, she continues.
“All those books you are reading, it is human beings that wrote them. Even the bible was not written by God himself but nobody knows exactly what is at the other side until they die and after you die and cross over, there is no returning oh! Only you will tell yourself the story”
I know the table will turn if I was with dad in Lagos, he’d talk about praying five times daily and going for hajj. He will give me a list of things I need to do to have a smooth life and see heaven. I doubted if an “other side” existed and wondered why God would visit me with his wrath when I did not offend him.
I finally agree to start attending church, more out of exhaustion form mummy’s persuasion than conviction.
It was Corpus Christi Sunday but nothing in Fatima cathedral impressed. The altar looked scanty, the candles burnt faintly, more girls were now altar servers and they seemed unhappy serving the lord.
The crucifix appeared like a stick begging to be made into a T.
I bet Jesus would not have agreed to hang on that kind of cross. The priestly robes were not immaculate white and some women did not have their hair covered. The air did not smell of holiness or incense, nothing seemed sacred nothing except the officiating priest.
He looked like a god when he held up chalice. I imagined how it would feel if I held those hands and if they hold me back. His eyes held a depth and so did his aphrodisiac voice.
I had not gone for confession the previous day but the thoughts of having his hands close to my lips almost drove me to the altar to take Holy Communion. But the last time I went for confession was in my 200level.
When mass ended mother bought a rosary (for me apparently) and took it to him to bless. She joined the other parishioners who flocked around him. He prayed for every one of them before attending to mother. And then she introduced me to him as her daughter who had been “lost in the world” but now found.
“Glory to Jesus” he exclaimed. “Honor to Mary” I replied, stared at him intently, and smiled, smiled at a man whose innocence I’d soon possess.
To be continued…
by Farida Adamu
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