Mr and Mrs Brandful walked into the auditorium together like a dignified couple. Preceding their entrance, they had both dropped little Kojo off in his Sunday class.
‘Hello?’ An usher smiled broadly at them and directed them to their designated seat behind the pastor.
‘Thank you.’ Esi replied and began walking towards the seats reserved for the choir.
Jake quickly grabbed her arm firmly and whispered into her ear;
‘Don’t try anything funny…We are in church.’
Esi rolled her eyes and turned to her husband.
‘I thought you couldn’t stand hypocrites.’ she whispered loudly.
Jake responded with a tight smile and clenched fist. He didn’t understand why his wife would decide to push him against the wall at this time and in this place. Esi wriggled her hand out of his loosening grip and stuttered off to sit in the seats reserved for the choir. She needed time with and for herself. She didn’t want to continue living a life of pretence in church, at work and everywhere else.
Esi had just made herself comfortable at the far end of the row and shut her eyes to say a prayer when she was rudely interrupted.
‘Why are you not sitting with your husband?!’ her mother demanded, straining not to shout. She lowered herself into the seat beside her daughter’s and slowly breathed out in order to control her temper.
‘O!…So he came to inform you? Already?’ I didn’t expect him to be so quick.’ Esi replied sarcastically. Turning to look into her mum’s eyes.
‘Young lady! Where are your manners and whatever happened to obeying scripture which says you ought to submit to your husband.’ her mother demanded.
‘Mummy, please…I just need some peace and quiet. Just today. I want to have some me-time with God, I want to think…Allow me to be. I haven’t divorced him…I just asked to sit in another part of the auditorium. That isn’t a crime.’ Esi replied, clutching her handbag tightly.
‘Sitting apart shows the whole church your marriage is having issues and that shouldn’t be the…’ Esi’s mother began.
‘You care what others think about my marriage? But you don’t care about the pain I am enduring in my marriage. Do you?’ Esi’s voice shook and her eyes filled with water.
‘Please leave me alone…I don’t want any trouble.i just want to worship God in peace.’ Esi continued. She rummaged through her bag for a handkerchief which she dabbed her eyes with.
Esi’s mother stood, looked at her daughter shortly and walked away.
Esi couldn’t describe the lightness she felt once the opening prayer began and the choir mounted stage. It had been long she had come to church yearning to fellowship with God like today. Unconsciously she had added Sunday service to her busy schedule and never got any form of refreshment or spiritual rejuvenation from it. Today felt different. The prayer seemed to be especially for her, the choir ministrations raised her spirit. She didn’t realise when she went on her knees and began sobbing loudly but it felt so relieving. She wished she didn’t have to go home, didn’t have to return to her life, she wanted to stay here, in this position, with this feeling of lightness.
It wasn’t long before the head pastor mounted the stage and encouraged the choir to continue ministering.
‘I feel burdens must be lifted today. I hear the words freedom from pain, freedom from bondage, freedom from bitterness. Let’s continue to worship as the Lord ministers.’ He said.
Esi could not hold back anymore. She laid on the floor and allowed the tears to flow. She gave no reason to the fact that her makeup was becoming messy and staining her dress.
Service had ended and Esi wished it could have continued. She greeted a few church folks and headed towards Kojo’s department. On her way,s he mistakenly bumped into Jake’s mother and was greeted with a forced smile. Esi could care less at that moment. She felt such peace in her heart and smiled heartedly in response, apologised and continued to walk.
Little Kojo came running towards his mum when he spotted her from the doorway.
Esi squatted with her heels and caught him in her arms.
‘You do seem very excited. Whatever did you learn in there today?’ Esi nodded towards her son’s classroom.
‘Jesus loves little children like me!’ Kojo shouted gleefully.
‘Of course, he does!’ Esi answer with must enthusiasm.
‘I love Jesus too!’ Kojo clapped his small hands, shut his eyes hard and showed his roughly spaced teeth. For no particular reason, the cuteness of this act caused Esi to laugh out loud and carry him onto her waist as she stood up.
‘Let’s get of the car so daddy can drive us home for some jollof.’
‘Yaaaah! Jollof!’Kojo shouted in excitement.
‘Why did you keep so long in there. Do you not know I am hungry? Why would you spend the whole freaking day in there picking your son up.’ Jake grunted as soon as Esi sat in the car after ensuring Kojo was securely strapped to the back.
Esi smiled. She wasn’t going to allow anything to steal her joy and peace.
‘I am sorry.’ she apologised.
‘Whatever.’ Jake snapped and reversed the car out of the parking lot.
‘Daddy! We learnt about Jesus today.’ Kojo exclaimed from his seat.
Jake ignored the young boy and turned on the radio.
‘Daddy, my Sunday…’
‘Baby, daddy is tired and hungry. If you talk too much he won’t be able to concentrate and drive.’ Esi cut in quickly. She realised if Kojo was allowed to keep talking disaster might strike.
‘I will drop you two off at the bus stop. I have an urgent meeting.’ Jake said after a moment of silence.
‘Meeting? With who?’ Esi asked.
‘That is of no concern to you.’ Jake snapped back.
Esi sighed loudly;
‘I gave all I had for offering and I didn’t carry my cards. Would you give us some money to take a car?’
‘I didn’t ask you to leave your cards and give all your money to God. Money from hypocrites like you doesn’t please him.’
Esi bit her lip in order to stay quiet.
To be continued…