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Wednesday, 2 May 2018

You are welcome to church.” An Usher greeted as I stepped into the ‘House of God’.
Pastor Ben, the church parishioner was standing in the alley. He greeted me with a warm smile. “Hello Darlene”
“You age slowly Pastor Ben.” I said full of commendation.
He nodded, ruffling his grey beards. “It’s the lord’s doing.” He smiled. “I hear your step sister had her coming out yesterday.”
“Yes Pastor. And I’d rather you call her my sister.” I replied with my tongue out.
He smiled. “I always knew you would be this tough. Accepting a step sister as a ‘sister’ is tough.” He said, patting me on the shoulder. He stared hard ahead of me with a great deal of surprise in his eyes. “I see you brought a ‘lost sheep’ along.”
I turned round to see Jake. He was wearing grey pants, pink checked shirt and a black shoe. Jake looked funny trying to dress official, his shirt had made a mess of everything. “Happy Sunday Pastor, I hope I still fit into ‘God’s society’.” He said, with his hands in his pockets.

Pastor Ben was all smiles. “You are always welcome into ‘God’s society’; this is the only place you won’t be rejected.” He reached for Jake and hugged him. “I have missed you son.”
“Me too, the church is all different. It’s been how many years since I last came here.” He said. They walked over to the instruments. “The Organ is all rusty.”
Pastor Ben. “No one has played her in a while. She’s been here for years; we thought we would keep her as an antique.” He blew some dust away from the Organ’s Top with his mouth. “A church antique will do, right?”
Jake dusted the Organ and tapped the chords gently. “They still come out good.”
“You remind me of when you were fifteen Jake; you were so zealous for Christ. You would be here as early as six in the morning to play the Organ. Where did those years go?” Pastor Ben asked with a questioning look. I had tried to stay close to them as they talked.
I watched as Jake bowed his head. He rose it, but not without tears in them. I was tempted to run to him. “It feels good to be back, Pastor Ben.”
The tension between Jake and Pastor Ben pricked me so I stepped out for some air. I took a walk round the church. Children rushed into their classes for the Sunday school and adults strolled into the main auditorium. I took a quick peek into the church and Pastor Ben and Jake were no longer at the Organ. They had probably left for the parish office.

I took my seat beside an elderly woman. Typically, as a youth, you dread seating beside an elderly Nigerian woman during a church service or any function that has a mixed audience in ages. I ‘technically’ regretted my choice to seat beside Mama Adeoti, one of the elderly women in the church. I had known her since I was a kid. She was the chief ‘Mrs. Nosy’ then; no information could pass without her noticing it. She criticized the lady who led the Praises and Worship; she said her skirt was too tight and that her rhythmic movements were to appease the congregation.
I then said to her. “But Mama Adeoti, Lucy is wearing a robe. It is to reduce the effect of what you are saying.”
She hissed. “Lucy is Lucifer’s daughter. Her skirt is too tight, and I can notice, FINAL.” She adjusted her half-mooned spectacles and peered further into the church. Mama Adeoti made me wonder if we weren’t committing more sin by talking about people’s dresses than ‘catching the sermon’.
She shifted grounds to attacking Jake. “That honey Jake has changed. He used to wear suspender jeans when he was a kid, now I know he has a striped boxer under his pants.” I felt very uncomfortable. “And those biceps are too big, ‘Omo buruku’ she said in Yoruba, an indigenous Nigerian language meaning ‘Bad Child’. “I can see through his shirt. He should wear shirt sizes like Bishop Olu.”
“BISHOP OLU???” I asked with a questioning gaze. Bishop Olu wore XXXL shirt. That man has his own seat in the church; Jake could kill Mama Adeoti for that!
She snorted. “And then his hair is too full. He should have a clean cut; else I will be doing that for him with Veet removal cream.”
“VEET???” I had had enough. I prayed earnestly for the service to come to a close as Mama Adeoti continued taking swipes at everyone including Pastor Ben.
She nudged me in the waist when she noticed I was trying to ignore her. “Doesn’t Pastor Ben know he is getting old? He still wears fitted shirts. Last evangelism, he wore a Lacrosse Polo. My grandson isn’t allowed to wear Lacrosse yet.” She shoved her hand up. “We all need Jesus.”
“You sure are right!” I said with a relief thinking she had halted her sermon and would give me room to listen to Pastor Ben preach.
She smiled revealing her broken teeth. “Glad to have touched your life.”
Yeah right! After Pastor Ben’s sermon which I struggled to listen to, no thanks to Mama Adeoti, I joined him outside the church.
“You were heavily distracted by Mama Adeoti today. You should choose your seat properly next time.” He said.

I nodded. He waved to some members as they exited the church.
“So how is the case against Chidi Obi coming? The whole community is rooting for you to land that man behind bars, maybe justice can get served.”
Chidi Obi had been involved in many illegal take-overs in the country. If not for being a clergy man, Pastor Ben might have led a riot against Chidi Obi in the event of an old people’s home donated by the church which Chidi Obi had bought several years ago and converted to a Strip Club. The Church didn’t have enough funds to put up a resistance to Chidi Obi, and it really hurt Pastor Ben who was a youth Pastor at that time.
“I am optimistic, but everything seems to be going for Subomi. He has a very vast resume; I might have to wait some more years to top that.”
Pastor Ben snapped. “Never mind, you’ve got God on your side, if you believe in him and learn to love and trust him more. Maybe you should come around more often.”
I rolled my eyes. Pastor Ben was trying to lure me to church. “I am a busy lady.”
“Too busy to serve God? Darlene, you might be beautiful, smart and a hot prospect, but without God, my dear, you are a waste.”
WASTE!!! Now, that did hurt! Pastor Ben just ridiculed my standings. Humble pie swallowed! “I’ll see you around Pastor Ben.”
“Speaking of which, there is a youth camp around the corner, I was thinking of inviting you to speak to some aspirants, they are really looking forward to having you minister to their lives, in the best way you can.” He said.
I shrugged. “I’ll look at my schedule as soon as I get the invite. I have a busy week ahead, I am up against Subomi on Wednesday, and I have to take my leave now.” I said hastily.
“God be with you child. All the best”
I nodded in agreement. “Later sir”
I joined Jake close to the car park. “Brother Jacob” I teased softly.
“Sister Darlene” he replied laughing.

I stared at him carefully. “Did you really come to church today? That’s a miracle.”
He nodded. “I needed to talk to God.”
“You can always do that in your room. Anyways, I appreciate your effort towards Dora’s coming out. It was special.”
He smiled. “It was the least I could do.”
“Hope you didn’t hit KP?” I asked, with a smile.
He shrugged. “I didn’t have a reason to, except that the guy has a wrong impression about me, I like him.” He opened the door of his car. “Let’s go.”
“I don’t want to go in your car.”
He looked surprised. “Why is that?” he asked.
“We came separately. I suggest we return in like.”
He maintained the look. “Darlene, you are beginning to surprise me these days in your actions and words. What is the big deal if I drop you home? You never seemed to mind.”
“Oh well, things change Jacob.”
Jake sighed. “Okay, do you mind if I give you a ride?” he asked.
“Gotcha! Look at your face, Jake. I was just kidding you.”
He sighed and opened the door. “Okay then.” I got into the car and he closed the door after me. “Your joke was flat.” He started. “So, how’s the case against Subomi coming?” he asked as he started the engine.
“Slowly, but surely”
He smiled and drove off. “How about your driving lessons?”
“Cetris paribus, I will be fit to carry a learner’s tag by tomorrow.” I replied, proudly. My smile was a large one.
Jake laughed sarcastically.
“Every artist was first an apprentice!” I retorted sharply, as I got the notion that Jake was trying to mock me.
He nodded. “I know that. It’s just that this apprentice seems to me like an expert in every other thing. Do you really want to use a learner’s tag?”
“Of course, I am a learner and I will use it until I am a professional. I intend to drive to the court on Wednesday.”
Jake laughed. “You are such a joke! I guess you want to fail that case before you step up to Subomi.” He replied. I was surprised at his comment so I shot at him. “First, you WILL arrive late because you will be busy driving with a manual preset in your head from your driving school.” He continued. He swerved past a truck swiftly. “That’s something you won’t be able to do yet.” He said, sticking his tongue out at me. “Second, that will be social suicide; you don’t want the press seeing an ‘L’ tag behind your ride.”
“What do I care about the press? I am only bothered about getting to the court late. I might leave the office two hours earlier.”
Jake laughed harder. “If I get you right, you are gonna be driving for 2 hours for a 30-45 minutes journey. Darlene, swallow your pride and ask me to chauffeur you, I don’t charge much.” He said, revealing his teeth.

I wore a grimace. “Dare might drop me off.”
“Oh really, I see you guys are really getting close. Is he less offensive now?”
I nodded in agreement. “Yes, he is a changed man.” ‘Changed man?’ Did I just say that?
“Good for you. That will make your work much easier.” He said, as he turned into my street.
He parked in front of the gate and opened the car door for me. “Here you go madam. I’ll call you later.” He said.
Jake appeared not to care too much about me saying that Dare might be taking me to the court house. That bothered me. He dropped me off and didn’t even suggest wanting to come in and that seemed totally unlike Jacob. I could place a bet now that something was under the rocks between him and Dora.
“Jake…erm…um….it’s okay. Later.”
He smiled. “Darlene, you don’t stutter with me. What’s up?”
“Nothing, I am just a bit tired. Thanks for dropping me home.”
He jumped into the car. “I’ll see you later then.”
Was that all? “Won’t you say ‘hello’ to Dora?” I asked dumbly. First sign of obvious jealousy!
Jake grinned as though he had ‘got me’. “We talk all the time. I’ll call her.” He replied and drove off.
“ We talk all the time. I’ll call her” I mimicked as I pressed the bell.

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