At the insistence of a client that I have been chasing for weeks, I find myself five estates away. It’s a decidedly cold and dull morning. Ugly grey clouds try to obscure the orange hue emanating from the right side of the sky. I believe that is the East. My phone tells me it is 6.58 a.m. And am not thrilled. Ordinarily, on such a day, on any other week, I would still be sleeping. Because it is Sunday. But am here today because I have to be.
Am after a guy. You know those business prospects that you have to chase and chase before you even get a commitment? This guy is one of them. I have been kissing his ass for weeks. Bending over backwards for him. Bringing him one idea after another but he always has a way of putting me off. Quite a smooth talker who seems more interested in the state of my spirituality than the state of my bank account.
Anyway, on a loose Thursday afternoon, I stroll into his office. Full of hope and thirst and desire. He had called me to get over for a job he had to offer. I found him sitting in his office, a huge poster of the Lord ’s Prayer claimed the wall behind his chair. A big ass King James Version of the bible sat beautifully on top of a neatly arranged pile of box files on his desk, at the center of which was a Mac book. The office smelled of daisies and cherries. He was on the phone when he ushered me in. I noticed that he would insert the phrase “Amen” after every few lines. I think he must have been talking to a pastor or someone who was praying for him. Or maybe praying for my soul. I sat there quietly and waited as he said “Amen” tens of times more.
To this day, I still cannot tell how our conversation got to the invitation bit. But I remember absent-mindedly agreeing to a church visit. That is how I came to be here today. Cold and hungry. And thinking of the hot mug of coffee that I had left unfinished on my table. Or the mini-series I could have been watching. My bible is in my hand, and on my left coat pocket is a pen that am not sure has any ink left. I also have my diary because I want to look serious – and busy. The church compound has a few people already. Ushers. They are cleaning, and moving, and welcoming and dusting. I invite myself to a small group of people. Who keep talking of powerful anointing. I can already tell it’s gonna be a long day. I stand quietly on the periphery, hoping not to be noticed. Somehow, one with a deep and croaky voice sees me…
“Hallo Sir,” he calls. And I ignore because I don’t think I deserve the title “sir” just yet.
“It’s you brethren.” He retorts as he inches closer to me. I feel like laughing at that salutation
It makes me think of a person in sack clothes, at the tail end of a three-week fast. Or one of those fellas who wear ugly shoes and oversized coats when going to church.
But I move closer to shake the stretched hand he is offering.
“Praise the Lord.” I manage to say awkwardly. The phrase sounds strange. It has been a while since I spoke it. But am in Rome and so I have to do as the Romans
“Am Jesse, ” he says without being prompted, and am forced to introduce myself.
“Am Kennedy.” I manage to say, in a voice shriller than I would have preferred.
“That’s a blessed name.” He says, smiling as if trying to flirt with me.
“It really is not!!!” I think of telling him, but I manage to hold my piece. Because you don’t want to appear rude to a man of God.
“Thank you…” I say, more in form of a question than a statement.
I can tell, from his eyes, that he is the kind that likes to make conversations. He is in a purple shirt with a black tie and a grey suit with brown shoes. He looks horrible in that outfit.
My phone rings and I look to the heavens in thanks. It’s my client-turned-host, asking me whether I came. I explain my location and he is there within the minute. A beautiful lady, who I later learn is his wife, follows obediently. They are dressed in those matching vitenge clothes that I have often seen married people adorn on Facebook; I find it depressing and a tad bit sad. He greets Charles with a sequence of hugs that I can’t quiet follow, each accompanied by “…the favor of the Lord has exploded upon us today…”
It is nauseating.
Later, after their introductions and professions of blessings and explosions, he engages me. Talks to me like I have been in their church for years. My stomach grumbles, in a show of discomfort – with the environment.
A white Toyota Ipsum pulls up near us. All the ten occupants of the car, I notice, have some shade of purple and gold in their dressing. The choir, I conclude. They turn out to be. One greets me with the excitement that only pastors-in-training have. He has more teeth than his mouth should carry. Later, I learn he is the head of praise and worship. They stroll into the church, and a few minutes later, the beautiful sound of instruments follow, and we have to go in. The session begins with a prayer from my host. He takes the microphone and starts praying. First in English then in a language that he probably thinks is from the Holy Spirit.
I open my eyes as soon as “the speaking in tongues” begins. Trying to see whether am the only one who finds the “speaking in tongues” annoying. I am.
A glance at my phone tells me it’s only been thirty minutes. It is 7.28 a.m.
I pick up my bible and head out the door as he continues blubbering a prayer in that language.
Life is too short…