The Last Time

He wanted to be at home, roasting insects with the heat on top of the lantern. He had been forced to wash his school uniform and finish his assignments all afternoon, and he thought he’d at least have some fun at night, now his mother was dragging him to the new Pentecostal church on the other street that had vigils even on the cold harmattan-ridden Sunday nights. For someone who was born a Muslim, she sure loved the Christian God a lot.

They had been to countless churches in the past year, “If the doctors won’t take away your asthma, God will,” his mother often said. Obviously, God was too busy saving lives at Ife and Modakeke. Mummy Jerry was the one who came to tell his mother about this new church. About how the pastor had prayed for her husband and he had gotten the job as a cleaner at Equity Bank that they had promised him for weeks. Kayode didn’t see how that was a miracle, but these people were older and wiser than he was, so what did he know?

He hit his foot against a stone, “Wo ibi ton lo,” his mother said, as she slapped him on his head. They were almost there, he could hear the choir singing praises that sounded like a death march. He looked up at his mother and pleaded with her that they should go back home, she was having none of it and slapped him on his head again. He was sure the slaps yielded a greater possibility of healing him of the asthma than the pastor ever could.

The church was just an aluminum roof held up by a couple of bamboo pillars. “Here we go again,” he said to himself. The pastor had mounted the stage and was preaching about the forces of hell. All the pastors in this type of church always preached about the forces of hell. Kayode was an expert in Hell Studies already. Just like the others, the pastor often substituted a version of English with Yoruba and “tongues”. Kayode shifted on the long slab of wood they were sitting on, he had to make himself comfortable, this was going to be a long night.

Finally, time for deliverance. He stood up even before his mother, he was used to the routine by now. The pastor would ask those in need of prayers to come forward and his mother would stand and lead him forward. She didn’t have to this time, he was ready. With a resigned faith that this was going to happen whether he wanted it or not, Kayode walked to the front while staring at the stones on the floor. He hoped this time was going to be the last. The pastor screamed in tongues and grabbed onto Kayode as he got to the front, several droplets of spit fell on his left eye, another occurrence he would have gotten used to if not for the fact that all these pastors seemed to have really bad mouth odour. The pastor continued to scream, and called for his assistants to come support Kayode as the power of God was about to “descend” upon him. Just as the assistants were on their way, Kayode felt the pastor push him rather aggressively, he knew this trick, he wasn’t going to fall. The pastor continued to push, and Kayode began to move backwards. The pastor followed, not taking his hands off Kayode. As he pushed him towards the back of the church, dust began to gather, and dust wasn’t a fan of Kayode’s asthma. Kayode began to sneeze, he could feel an attack coming. He couldn’t breathe, and telling this to a pastor who was intent on making him fall to the floor wasn’t very feasible. Kayode fell, and the pastor kicked more dust into his face. He tried hard to breathe, but couldn’t. The pastor shouted “See the power of God taking over him.” A few moments later, Kayode became still. This was the last time.

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