The church.

On the day the products from Kiganjo decided to down their tools, the streets ran red; it’s on that same day that Papa’s church was raised to the ground by an accidental fire, along with some other property of unknown value. Of course we called the firefighters who arrived 2 hours later, with empty fire trucks, those good for nothing men came all the way to contain fire with what? Air?
Papa’s congregation appeared like a flock of sheep that had lost its shepherd. They hung around in a rather gloomy mood, hands on their chins, their eyes slightly watery gazing at what at some point used to be their center of worship. Well , I tried telling them that nothing lasts forever only to be met by scornful glances and lots of shindwe pepo chafu from the older women, who are dominant among the congregation.
On the evening of the next day, I arrived home to a house full of worshipers, hungry and thirsty for the word .These churchless men and women had opted to turn our home sweet home into a church, Papa was at the center of it all, the living room his pulpit, preaching with such vehemence you would think it was the return of the messiah. I managed to make it to my room without being seen by those older women who were busy exorcising demons in the most bizarre ways i have ever seen.
Inside my room i tried hard to concentrate on my History assignment, God i hate this subject. What is the point of studying past events? What does the First World War have to do with me? And those weird looking apes of evolution by Charles Darwin, even pagans know we were all created by God and never rose up from monkeys. Darwin should count himself lucky because if those women worshiping downstairs knew him they would condemn him to the perpetual fires of hell.
When the congregation left our house regained its normal silence. The kind of silence that had always been there ever since my beloved mother went missing five years ago. Papa never used to preach this much, he was a family man, he was always there for me and for my big sister, but ever since mother disappeared things changed. My sister got married at an early age and moved out. Papa devoted all his time and money to his church. We stopped eating together as a family; the only part of the family that remained loyal and unchanged was our faithful dog Bruno.
On the day that mother vanished Papa would just stare blankly at the ceiling as if conversing with it. He reminded me of a girl in our class called Eunice. I won’t say she was stupid or anything but whenever the teacher called on her to answer a question she would just stare up into the ceiling, I think she had the answers written up there somewhere.
So Papa buried himself in his ministry. My sister made her vows. I was left all alone. The television my only mentor until the Jubilee Government killed it in the name of digital migration.

The day that followed was a school day. I arrived home rather late, to find the congregation more vibrant than ever. Papa was praying for two women who had kidnapped and raped a man at gun point. Such nonsense. If things continue going this way man will soon become extinct. I overheard the women confess of how they lured the man into their car in the name of asking for directions. They then forced him to have sex with them and on refusal the man was made to swallow some pills that got him aroused. They then harvested his semen and threw him out of the speeding car. The poor fellow must be traumatized by now wherever he may be. As i made my way to my room these women eyed me in eyes that seemed to say: there goes our next victim. Freaks.
From up my room i had Papa offer deliverance to the two rapists or call them freaks if you want. I thought hard about the poor man whose semen had been harvested. People focus so much on the girl child that nobody gives a hoot about the boy child. I switched on my radio and plugged the headphones deep into my ears.
It must have been at least 30 minutes or so, I must have dozed off because when i came to, Papa’s congregation was in my room. Those grimy old women were chanting in very unorthodox tones and stumping the ground as if in a trance. Another bunch of them were sprinkling water on every corner of my room shouting toka! In case you are wondering, the water was meant to be holy, then as abruptly as they had come they left.
I sat with my mind going blank. I stared at the ceiling for hours until I slept. The room fell silent; in fact our whole house was quiet. Weird huh?
On the next day I joined the congregation without even being told. We spoke in foreign languages and even exorcised demons in very peculiar ways. Papa would at times look at me and a smile would cross his lips, ever since Mother disappeared i had never seen him smile.

MAURICE MUTHIANI.

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