Fiction: The Apprentice–Chioma Ngaikedi

By Ikenga Chronicles February 7, 2018

Fiction: The Apprentice–Chioma Ngaikedi

“Shrines no dey reign again,Jesus has taken over! ” Gabriel said, fighting to be heard above the loud echo of Davido’s “Fall” booming in the beer parlour.

Dozie was listening to him like a student at his master’s feet. A green bottle of Star beer in his hand. Admiration shone in his eyes.

“I dey tell you, my brother, ” Gabriel said, reaching for the mortar filled with pieces of Isiewu. He picked a piece of the meat and dropped it in his mouth.

“No one wants to enter a dark, smelly, cobweb filled hut sprinkled with blood and chicken feathers. This is 21st century. Even Devil sef don upgrade, ” Gabriel continued, chewing the words along with the goat meat.

“Gabros! Nigeria no easy o! Man must survive. Anywhich way na way!” Dozie said, tapping his feet on the ground.

Gabriel nodded. His cheeks were protruding. He was chewing aggressively. The yellowish palm oil paste glued to the corners of his mouth.

”So, no wahala, Dozie, we go see on Sunday. You will see with your two koro koro eyes, as the matter dey be. Because now eh, every thing wey I dey talk, go dey sound like Nigerian film,” Gabriel said as he reached for his beer.

***
Sunday.

A black Highlander SUV stopped in front of a large wooden building with ten iron pillars holding it at each side. A large banner hung at the entrance read: GOD OF WONDERS ANOINTING MINISTRY.

Gabriel removed the key from the ignition and headed towards the church. Dozie walked right behind Gabriel, his eyes widened in shock at the sight before him. The church compound was as large as two football fields. Over fifty classy cars were parked at the car park beside a circle of seven women praying. Their hands intertwined. Eyes closed.

“You see those blocks,” Gabriel said, pointing to a stack of concrete blocks. “They are for the church auditorium. If you come here by July next year, you no go know here again. We would have moved to the permanent site. ”

” You see that parking area,” he said, pointing to a line of shiny, classy SUVs and Mercedes Benzes. “We only allow big car drivers to park inside the church premises. Every other old model golf, 504 and any other gwura-gwura park outside the church.”

Dozie’s laughter rang out. His eyes filled with admiration for his old classmate. Gabriel was no longer the bow-legged Gabo, running around Ihioma Boys Secondary School with his tattered sandals and torn breeches. This Gabriel was rich!

Gabriel walked towards the church. He was clutching a fat Bible to his chest. Two iPads were on his left hand. His blue suit was tailored to fit. Four church officials ran out to him.

“Daddy! Daddy! Pastor! Gabriel! Good morning,” echoed in the air.

Dozie watched Gabriel transform. His voice adopted this calm, whispery tone that wasn’t in tune with his normal boisterous self.

“May the Lord bless you,sister Geraldine. God bless you, brother Osas,” Gabriel said, placing his hands on their heads.

Dozie muffled a laughter. Church isn’t a matter of laughter. It is a business, and like every other business, it is serious!

They entered the pulpit through the door behind the building. Gabriel walked towards the four sets of executive leopard skin seats at the left wing of the altar. He sat down and pointed Dozie to the seat next to him. The worship ministration was going on.

A beautiful black girl on a red glowing gown and white turban like scarf was leading the worship. Her soprano voice reverberated in the hall. A light skinned man, seating amongst the choir, tickled the piano with excellent mastery.

The congregation was in the spirit; some standing, some kneeling, some were slouching on their seats, tears flowing down their eyes. Two camera men navigated through the crowd, fighting to catch the deepest expression of true worship.

“I just want to sayyyy…Baba oooo… Esheeee… I just want to to sayyy…baba oooo… Eshe! I just want say eeee! ” the singer sang. The congregation’s responding chorus answered her.

“Dozie, you see as we dey do am?” Gabriel whispered, leaning towards Dozie.

“Yes so!, Oh boy, you get crowd for here o! ” Dozie replied, grinning in disbelief.

“Yes na. Na crowd and miracles go give you the money. So, you see wetin I been dey tell you, yesterday. No body dey go shrine again. Na church dey reign. You see as I repackage my papa’s native doctor juju, after the Oracle picked me to serve him. Na so. You go take go to… wetin be that your maternal home again?” Gabriel said, scratching his head.

“Okija, ” Dozie replied.

“Yes, yes! Okija! Go there and carry power. Okija shrine get better juju. With that, you see all these ones,” Gabriel said, pointing to the singer in red gown. “Na husband she dey find. You see that woman crying on the second row?” Gabriel pointed to a woman in white skirt and blouse. “Na fruit of the womb be her problem. You see that man in white t-shirt?”

“The one raising his hands? ” Dozie asked, his eyes roaming the crowd.

“No, not that one. The one behind him. Na manhood don expire. Na so so sickness dey make person go hospital and na problem dey make person come church,” Gabriel said.

The worship session ended. A young man in a brown suit walked up on the pulpit. The singer bowed and handed the microphone to him.

“Praise the Lord, somebody! I say praise Master Jesus!” the young man screamed.

“Halleluyah!” the church chorused.

“Brethren, it’s time to invite our father in the Lord. Our spiritual director, our beloved GO, Pastor Gabriel Elijah to share the word of God!”

A hundred cracks of claps exploded in the hall. The pianist tickled the piano in a maddened tempo. The drummer drummed with eager excitement.

With quiet dignity, Gabriel arose, his fat Bible clutched to his chest. He walked to the pulpit with the aura of a man sent by God.

 

  • Chioma Ngaikedi is a writer, filmmaker, blogger and CARPENTER. Check out her personal blog; www.chiomangaikedi.com
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