To Temiloluwa and Tunmise, for loving, for caring, for supporting, for sharing, for being the best brothers in the world.
To Mummy, for showing me what true love really is
To Daddy, for not understanding what it means to have writing as a career but still supporting me anyway
To @Abi_can_do for being the first person who told me to share my talent with the world through the blogosphere
To @hibukkun for always reading
To @boorlaji for disturbing me for links
To @Bukolaolaleye for bothering to check in when I wouldn’t even write.
To @Oyefunkejolaoso for being eager to read
To @Ebonyheritage for being the first to comment most of the time
To @MsOnnyx for always sharing.
To @Moskedapages for reading, for writing things that inspire and that push me to write.
To @Geishamandy for being the best friend who’d always share, always believe.
To @Heiresslama for being my fan right from when I was thirteen and I’ll write in pages of exercise books.
To @Chiwuzy for always saying, “Tomi you should never stop writing”.
To @Dotun007 for believing in me when I lost faith in myself
To @Orefakorede for taking time to share.
To @F_U_N_B_I for always surprising me by taking my work seriously.
To @Akindolz who shares to @Nikkyspice16, who in turn became a dedicated reader
To @Wakkomaniac, Ore I am still surprised you read my work.
To @Sheiler who supports
To @Dcodesmith who never tires of being my guardian angel
And to Ebele, Adeola Salako, to Abiodun Olugbenga, to Adebola “Puffy” Idowu, Fasuyi Tobi and to everyone who has been of huge support and would always send/post comments. I’ll kiss you on the cheek one after the other if I could. This love story is for you.
And also to everyone who believes the Church is for made people, for saints, for the ones who have already been fixed, To the ones who look down their noses to the sinners, the ones who have no patience for the sinners to catch up on the love of Christ, and who forget in such a hurry, Romans 3:23.
She had tried to look everywhere but her elder sister’s face from the house through the long drive from Ikeja to Lekki and now, the Church.
Yetunde was mad at her, the way she fumed, yelled at her when she barely did anything and wondered aloud when she was within earshot was enough proof.
She had overdone it and her sister was not letting this one go away.
She stood in the middle of the large Church, overwhelmed by the enthusiastic crowd that was dancing and jubilating during the praise session.
They danced, they screamed at the top of their lungs and jubilated. They were also overdressed; all clad like they were trying to outdo each other and as if a price would be handed to the best-dressed member after the service.
Most of the women looked like they were copied and pasted from high society events, the ones that featured red carpets and many camera lights, where the flashes from the cameras accompanied every smile, every pose, every heartbeat…
“Dance now! abi your legs and mouth are too heavy to thank God that saved you from bringing shame to the entire family?” Yetunde snapped, pushing her roughly.
“Yetunde, I don’t want to dance.” She replied gently, trying not to get mad. Trying to tell herself Yetunde had a reason for being so hostile and unreasonable.
Yetunde looked at her as if she had committed an abomination, “You don’t want to dance ke?” she asked, her mouth agape, her arms folded. “My friend, this is the house of the Lord, you better dance away the stupidity that brought you from jand because you’re not carrying it back to my condo!” she yelled, hissed and then continued to sing heartily.
Tamilore looked around, she did not feel like dancing. She did not want to be in this crowd, she did not want to be around anybody at all. Her eyes caught a girl, clad in a dress too tight she knew she couldn’t breathe in and heels almost as tall as the Eiffel tower.
She held on to the chair in front of her, trying to hold herself so she would not fall. Tamilore scoffed, this crowd irritated her.
It was the crowd that dominated most of the Churches around now and which came to Church for the wrong reasons, appearance.
Once when she’d spoken to Yetunde on the phone while she was in London, Yetunde had mentioned that she did not go to Church.
When Tamilore asked her why, she said “Wo I don’t have fine clothes for Church today jare.” and Tamilore thought that was disturbing. It unnerved her, told her this overzealous crowd, this religious crowd, they were in the Church for the wrong reasons.
The Praise session ended, Tamilore was happy. That meant they could sit and she could be bored through the remaining three hours.
Worship began and she watched overly made up faces sing in different pitches as they worshipped in an exaggerated manner.
If she was not so messed up, she’d laugh.
She tried to leave the Church, Yetunde opened her eyes, “Yes, where to?” she demanded.
“I need to take a smoke” Tamilore responded.
Yetunde’s jaw dropped, “In the Church?”
Tamilore did not say anything, she watched her sister put her back in place, eye her and then returned to singing worship songs. After worship, when the pastor said, “Welcome your neighbour to Church” Yetunde said to her, “Remind me to book you for deliverance in MFM this Saturday.”
After they sat, their Pastor’s wife mounted the pulpit and started what Tamilore interpreted as condemnation. It irked her, made her irritated and made her want to run out of the auditorium and go to sleep somewhere.
It was why she would never be a Christian. They condemned, they rebuked, they said and did things that pushed you away from the Church and they wondered why hypocricy reigned there.
The Pastor’s wife, Pastor Mrs Grace Anike Rogers, (a woman in her late fifties with black shiny hair pulled into a tight bun that made her oval face look unhappy and a wine skirt suit which Tamilore was certain cost several thousands of dollars), cracked a joke about her husband and her son.
Since they were watching from the projector, Tamilore watched the camera pan in on her son’s face and then projected it on the big screen.
Her first reaction was to gasp in utter shock and then when she got over the surprise, she looked at her sister, who gazed at the Pastor’s son as if it was paradise.
“Yetunde, who is that?” she asked
“The pastor’s son. His name is Jide Ademola-Rogers, he is the head of department at Trusted Reliance Bank, our head office and he’s single.” Yetunde said a bit too excitedly. She was clearly in awe of her Pastor’s son.
“His name is Jide?” Tamilore frowned
Yetunde nodded. Tamilore glanced at the projector, Jide’s face was not the one showing now, it was the pastor’s face and the Church was cheering like he was the messiah.
“What did you say he does again?” Tamilore asked and Yetunde gestured for her to be quiet. Tamilore nodded, relaxed in her seat and counted the hours to the end of service.
Jide Ademola-Rogers had graduated top of his class at Harvard business school, had excelled at everything he had been enrolled in right from when he was a child and was the golden boy everyone who knew the Rogers wished they had.
His parents adored him because not only was he so excellent at his education, he had an “excellent spirit like Daniel”, he was “not unequally yoked with unbelievers”, would “not sit in the seat of the scornful” and always “fled from sin”.
His mother pored over him and made every single life decision for him. Even now that he was thirty-three.
He was standing by his car after service, different women flocking around him as they asked nothing in particular and made no reasonable conversation.
Hanging around Jide was enough; he was crème, handsome, born and raised in wealth and would die in wealth, even if he started squandering every dollar there was to his name.
He was also a gentleman and he was heir to his father’s multi-million naira estate and his mother’s million naira business empire.
He leaned on his recently purchased Hyundai 2014 model and listened to every woman who called him.
Tamilore watched from the Church entrance as he tried to turn his head in every single direction that he was called. He was wearing a purple suit and white shirt and she had to say that as much as she would not pick that color for him, it suited him.
Yetunde emerged from the Church where she had been talking to the head of the Ushering unit, her eyes fell on the crowd surrounding Prince charming and she eyed them with disdain.
“These ones will be following this guy like they don’t have job. Some of them are married like that o.” she said with disapproval as if she wouldn’t join them if they weren’t so many.
She looked at Tamilore and scrutinized her clothes, “This is what you wore to Church?”
Tamilore was not sure what answer was appropriate, they had left home together and she’d been wearing the long maxi skirt and camisole with plunging neckline and cowries on her neck. Yetunde hadn’t complained then, now she seemed to have just awoken from a slumber.
“You still dress like you are in the jungle abi?”
“Its called boho style, Yetunde.”
“Its called madness, the madness that has entered into your brain and refused to leave.” Yetunde snapped.
Tamilore did not say anything, she looked away and her eyes settled on Jide again. His mother was joining him now, she dismissed the crowd around him coldly and then pulled him aside to talk.
She motioned for a light skinned girl, who looked like she had been made yellow by the help of a good and expensive bleaching agent, to join them. Ms Yellow was dressed impeccably in a pretty tight fitting skirt suit and sky-high heels.
She smiled at Jide; he smiled back. His mother said something, and then put Ms Yellow’s hands in his. They both smiled.
Tamilore wondered if he’d just been given a wife? She watched with keen interest as Grace left her son with Ms Yellow and how they leaned on the car and started a conversation.
Yetunde as if just waking from a slumber, looked up at them and said, “What are these ones doing together?”
Tamilore would give a lot of money to know.
Yetunde hissed, “This one that has slept with the whole Church, I am sure her toto is tired of reading meter sef” she said, her words scathing and making Tamilore wonder if the long service they just got out of did nothing to her.
Who came out of Church with so much negativity?
“Please let’s go home jare.” She said to her sister, even though she still stood there, even though she still watched, even though she still hated from that spot.
Jide proceeded towards where they were standing at that point and Yetunde stood rooted to a spot, as if she hadn’t asked them to leave for the house some minutes before.
“Please let’s go now.” Tamilore said quickly as Jide approached them with Ms Yellow.
Yetunde said nothing; it was as if she was mesmerized by his approaching presence. Tamilore noticed the whole Church compound seemed to pause as this man, this man they seemed to worship more than God approached the entrance.
Tamilore wanted to leave; she did not want him to see her. She did not want to have to confront him about the past… she did not….
He saw her.
He stood in front of her, watching, saying nothing, as shocked as she was when she had seen him on the projector earlier.
“Suga spice” he muttered.
“Hey customer” she said, smiling at him, watching as his expression froze, knowing for a fact that he had hidden the truth well from these people and he never wanted them to find out.