She screams and falls to the ground. The ushers not occupied pulling and adjusting the other fallen persons rushes to her side. A few seconds late albeit, as her head collides with the foot of the aisle stairs.
If she passes out from divine anointing, or the pain of the collision, I can’t tell.
The Pastors mops his brows with his hanky, his eyes still shut, his mouth moving and his head shaking profusely in both directions. He comes closer, and before his eyes meets mine I close them and mumble “Amen” to an unheard prayer.
The whole place is an uproar, the choristers are crying their eyes out, and sing-screaming at the top of their lungs. The parishioner’s voice are raised higher than even the instruments, my heart beats in tandem to the rhythm of the drums, I clutch my head, as I feel a headache form from the noise of the speakers.
“You. Come forward.” The voice of my pastor says, and I open my eyes to see him staring straight at me.
My hand is still on my head, I look to left and right, perhaps there’s someone at my back he is referring to, but I meet eager eyes. The congregation has grown silent, I feel a hundred pair of eyes on me.
Even the chorister’s voices have mellowed into belle hums, caressing the microphone as their lips mum pressed tightly to the mic.
Slowly, I bring my hands down, and look questioningly at him.
Apart from the Bless yous he hands to me and my parents at the gate when we are leaving Church every Sunday, I don’t think we have exchanged any other words.
He nods his head in confirmation, and stretches out his right hand. “Come my daughter, this is your day of Deliverance.”
I don’t see what I need deliverance from, I can assuredly say that I am in full possession of my mind and my senses, but I go on anyway.
This isn’t my first time in a deliverance service, matter of fact I have been in one of these more times than I have been in the principal’s office, and that’s more times that is healthy for a normal student.
Fine, I admit I have anger issue. Just yesterday I broke a neighbour’s windshield because she reported to my Mom that I traced abusive words on it, when I didn’t.
And as if that triggers a thought, I look back to where mom is sitting, her both hands are clapped together in front of her chest, and Dad is looking pleadingly besides her.
It all starts to make sense.
They reported me to the pastor, and now he was going to perform a deliverance on me. Little wonder the usher had directed me to sit in the front row, and Mom had begged that I obliged the usher, as she very well knew I was wont to refuse as I already have my spot at the farthest end of the hall, besides the air-conditioning.
My favorite corner, away from the reach of the index-finger-poking ushers, and their disgruntled stares when they catch me surfing on social media in Sunday school.
I bite the insides of my lower lip. This is so embarrassing. I imagine being sprawled on the floor like those currently are, and wish I had put on an undergarment in addition to my panties.
Well, we would see who’s to blame, when I have my business all spread open for them.
I move closer until I am standing few inches away from him.
“Are you born again?” He asks, I nod in assertiveness.
“I want to speak out my dear.” He cajoles, “Have you received the holy spirit?”
I nod again.
“Are you sure?” he asks.
“Yes.” I lie.
I know I haven’t, I just wish I have. Few minutes after first baptism, everyone was walloped in this new tongue, except from me. Truth be told, I almost- well, I thought there was definitely something wrong with me.
He places a cold palm of my fore head, and closes his eyes. The second hand he has still clutching the microphone.
“I want you all to pray for Jose. It's said that the spirit of Rebellion is worse than that of witchcraft.”
It takes the will of God and the perseverance of Moses for me not to throw his hand away, and walk out of the church. I have about half of my school mate in attendance, and just imagine the shame I am being put through.
He starts to speak in tongues and, and as the tempo of his voice rises, so does the rate of spittle flying out of his mouth increase. He pushes my head backward as he repeats over and over again, “Leave her, you spirit of rebellion. You have no place in her.”
We go around in circles for a while, until my head starts to spin. I straighten my posture, so that I don’t trip, but I think that singular gesture triggers something else in him.
He stops, and looks at me.
I stare back and him, and he smiles. I want to smile back at him, but in the blink of an eye, the smile is inverted and a frown forms.
“The devil is a liar.” He says into the microphone. “Brother Joshua, come and hold this mic.”
Joshua, the finger chewing usher rushes to do as he is told.
The church goes dead quiet, even the band stops playing. My pastor proceeds to take off his suit, and is now left with just his soiled blue shirt. The wetness which happen to have generated from his underarms and spread to his chest.
The ushers which take it as a cue for some firebrand action steps behind me, in what I know is a premedication to break my fall.
I swallow, and stare back at Mom and Dad, Mum is muttering to herself, her head is bowed but Dad is staring right at the Pastor.
I guess this is it then.
The Pastor places his hand on my head again, but rather than pray in English words, he screams in tongues. I'm confused as to what to say amen to, I feel the pressure of his hold increase, and I balance my weight to improve my stamina.
It’s almost as if he wants to push me to the ground himself. I steady my footing, looking without turning my neck to locate the nearest pillar to grip at.
The pastor’s pressure intensifies, and this time I step out of is reach, because now my neck hurts, but a hand pushes me forward from behind.
It’s one of the ushers. The pastors begins swirling me around, and I want to cry out in frustration. My neck is cramped like hell- and the ushers won’t even help matters.
Now the chants starts from the pastor and spreads to the entire congregation.
“Leave her! Leave her!”
My patience snaps at the silliness of the whole scene, and I duck so that his hand his left hanging mid-air, and I rush off to catch my breath.
“There is nothing wrong with me.” I scream out to them, but I get pitiful nods from some, and looks of disgust from others.
The pastor approaches me again, this time he uses two of his hands.
I realize there is no way this is going to end well for me if I don’t give them what they what, which is submission.
But to what?
Twenty seconds later, I am surrounded by all the sub Pastors in church, and I want nothing but for this to end. I don’t even care how I am going to look in school.
“Die by fire-“
“Burn in the pit of hell-”
“Return to the swines-”
“Evil spirit of dest-“
The heat becomes unbearable, and so I know convincing them that I am just a normal teenager prone to hormornal switches isn’t going to work.
I stand up, and scream and the top of my voice. I make certain my back is faced perpendicular to the potbellied frame of Pastor Ayo, I can’t take chances with the bony physique of Mrs. Margaret, one of our Sunday school teachers.
Then I fall back, making sure to roll, so that my face is directed to the ground. I haven’t practiced the art of planking, and wouldn’t risk fluttering my eye lashes or laughing at the absurdity of everything.
“Praise the lord,” Someone screeches, dragging her voice, and over stressing the Praise.
“He has done it. Amen!” The Pastor sighs, his voice calmer.
A covering goes over my legs, and the person makes to turn me around.
“Leave her be.” Pastor chides, “The Lord has taken her to where he would personally deliver her.”
I stifle laughter, glad of my foresight.
The little crowd edges away, and seconds later the band, choristers, and pastors resume their uproar.
Me? I just want to sleep.