The ambiance is of quietness only interrupted by the jarring sound of fans embedded on the cream colored ceiling with drawings of the cross.
Here everyone does as they are told. And the pastor has just asked congregants to pray in their hearts. Which means pray none verbally. A conversation with God. Perhaps with themselves. Or both.
A voice booms from the loud speaker probably to signify the end of this private prayer session. My eyes take a minute to adjust to the church’s brightness accentuated by the snow white walls and the pastor’s white cotton suit. Everything is so white here. A sign of holiness I presume.
I’m not a member of this church. Well, in campus I’m not a member of any church. Back home I’m an Adventist though. The son of a church elder. Why I never go to church while on campus is neither here nor there so I’ll only divulge the circumstances that led to my presence in this Sunday church today.
Aisha is my friend.
She has been since when we were in our first year. And no. She’s just a friend. If she wasn’t I would have told you so. Aisha is a beautiful light skin giriama girl with a thousand dollar smile. I often tell her she would be better off keeping the smile and giving me the thousand dollars. Also I’m not saying only light skin girls are beautiful. These days one has to be only too careful with what they say around here. And it’s not my wish to start a colorism war today. Not when the corona pandemic is up our necks.
Aside from her well shaped curves and the charming fast paced coastal Swahili accent, one other thing that drew me to Aisha was the religion she professed. I don’t care much about religion but a young girl bearing an Islamic name and hailing from an Islamic family professing Christianity is pretty odd, don’t you think? She struck me as someone who defines her own path. Someone who shapes her own destiny. Someone brave enough to write her own unique story in a world where uniqueness is shunned and conformity worshiped. I’ve always admired such people. People who defy the odds. People who know what they want and go for it whether anyone else kithni or ndekni. I revere such people.
And so when Aisha called over the phone her drooling voice jolting me awake, asking me to accompany her to church this Sunday morning. I quickly said yes. And now I’m sweating profusely in this damn hot suit. And there’s this kid who can’t stop staring at me. As if he can see all my sins. A fornicator. A liar. Chief of sinners. Or maybe I just look like a cockroach in a suit. I don’t know.
It’s time for the choir now. The praise and worship team. The choir master is that Arsenal fan I called a stiff necked imbecile with limited cerebral capabilities after he referred to Manchester United as a village netball team. But today we are in church. And so when he starts singing, “sisi wana wako tumekusanyika angalia bwana”.
We all sway in a slow motion our hands raised up high so that the Lord can look down upon us and see just how Holly we all are. And the singing goes on and on and when you think you’re now singing the last song, a creative sister composes yet another one on spot and we sing and sing and sing… Like angels.
The devine hour.
Pastor Karis mounts the pulpit with an air of bravado. He mops a mushroom of sweat from his brow and proclaims blessings upon every eye that’s fixated on him today. What a great man! You just have to look at him and boom! You’re blessed. Everyone is so jubilated when he pronounces miracles upon all who will give unto the Lord. And when he begins to pray, he tells God to bless him so he can in turn praise His name. I pity this God. He has to grant all of pastor Karis wishes if He ever wants Pastor Karis to praise his name. Poor guy.
The service ends. My tummy rumbles. Aisha smiles.
By: Tony Ogwa