Kizito always wanted to try out the city churches. He had recently bought a piece of land in Gayaza coupled with a Premio and felt that the only thing missing his economic graduation was the church. St. Apollo Kivebulaya was now too small and inconsequential to receive his status. He had began there as a pauper. Always attending sunday school, then with the adults’ services with his mother.
It was time to try Modern Church of the Educated, Wealthy and Healthy in Christ Our Lord. MCEWHICOL was one of the oldest, pentecostal churches in the city. You had seen it. The tall cathedral that sat in the square, the police station to its left, State House to its right, Private Hospital number one above it and the dingy streets of downtown below it. It was central. You would find a wealthy aristocrat here, a rising businessman, a university goer and an army man. All the crowd was there.
Kizito was a stocky man with a neat inch of hair on his head. His suits were so tight you could always make out the lines of his muscles. He wore a gold ring on the pinky finger of his left hand and liked to stroke it when feeling powerful. His right hand usually held his car keys which he freely swung every now and then. His feet donned a different pair of Crocodile skin shoes every weekend. Today, the pair was a dark tan.
He had rough edges on his face. His accent was very thick as though he was trying to make sure even the near-deaf could hear his Kaxungu. He had bought a pair of spectacles to mix in freely. Spectacles brought with them an air of intelligence. He had always wanted to be counted with the clever people of the world. For him, a good business ethic and hard work was not equivalent to the cleverness of the men with the white collars. And they congregated in church. His office might be downtown and theirs uptown but on Sundays, they all met here.
Joining MCEWHICOL was like a self graduation. He wanted to sit with the people he had always wanted to be like.
As he put a wad of ten thousand shilling notes into the offertory bag, he finally felt alive. He felt he was in a place that he deserved and deserved him. He was home.
Namazzi didn’t miss the action. She had seen Kizito put the wad in the bag while stroking the gold ring on his pinky. Now there, there was a man with means. There was the kind of man who meant something in this world, she thought to herself. A man with that amount of money for God meant he had quite a lot more for people, for a girl, just like her. She marked his appearance, gold ring, keys, reptile skin shoes and waited for the offertory bag to come to her pew. She was a girl with the right size of hips. She wasn’t really small or really chubby, but she was on her way to it. Her braids were new. They fell on the back of her neck and made her look quite attractive.
Today she was putting on a Tee with the words, “Proverbs 31 Chic”, and jeans that accentuated her hips. Her feet were donning a yellow pair of Sketchers. Earlier that morning, the last words she had said to herself in the mirror were “Dope”. She knew she looked good.
A few pews away were the church leaders’ seats. These were different from the hard wooden pews everyone else sat on. There were seven single seat lavender cabrioles, with the pastor and his wives a size slightly bigger than the rest. One figure turned his head to look back into the congregation.
Mugisha wasn’t aimlessly scanning the pews. He was looking for Namazzi. Mugisha had just been ordained Youth Pastor the previous week and hoped that finally this would earn some respect for him from her. The two were in a relationship, but a secret one. The reasons were a bit complicated. No one would have been against the relationship but Namazzi wasn’t ready to be seen with the languid looking just-starting-out guy, that Mugy was. It would have to be secret until Mugy was some kind of man. He was already some kind of man.
Their eyes briefly met as he scanned and she turned them quickly away. He saw her rejection as she removed her eyes from his. It was never like this during their secret nights after a night out at Papaya’s Lounge. In secret, she looked and him. She gazed. She called him names; “Stallion, Fat Joe, Beastie Boy…”. However whenever the act was over, she turned away and snored till morning.
“Praise the Lord, Hallelujah Amen!
Praise the Lord, Hallelujah Amen
Mirembe sang out the verses with her eyes closed and hands lifted. Church was her getaway! Her solace. Her recovery. Whenever she sang in the choir, she finally felt some form of love and mercy filling her. However, ever since Omara had joined her in the choir, she had felt less of love and mercy, and more of guilt and condemnation.
What they were doing was not right, she thought. What if God decided He had enough with their discrepancies and struck them down in the middle of the service? But no. He wouldn’t. There was grace enough for her discrepancies, his discrepancies and the whole world’s discrepancies, Omara would always convince her. God was a loving God. It was not His way to destroy but rather build. And God was a God of love. What was wrong with that?
She believed him. However, her faith lasted for exactly one hour until the doubts crept in. She was not at peace, not now since her co-sinner was now inches behind her in the choir.
Omara’s voice was the best in the choir. Besides his near perfect features, gold earrings, well trimmed beard and long dreadlocks, his deep baritone caused quite a stir in some ladies, and some men. Whenever he led the session, like today, a lot more people would either stand or be on their knees. Mrs Katuntu was prostrate on the ground.
Mrs Katuntu, the silky skinned, almost yellow wife of Mr Katuntu, the main pastor. She was a very attractive lady for her age. Her forties had done nothing to impede her beauty. Not that beauty was the only thing going for her. She was smart. An accountant with ACCA, and CPA accreditations. It made sense she was the head of Financial at the church. She had the mind to advise her husband and the entire board on the best financial directions.
As she lay prostrate, Pastor Katuntu could not help give her a suspicious side eye. She had come in late the entire weekend, a big portion of the money on the church treasury had gone missing and she had ignored all his attempts for an explanation, even the morning before they came here.
He was so engrossed in these suspicions that he almost didn’t hear Omara as he called out to him
“And for the sermon, the young and bubbly Pastor Katuntu is ready to give us the Word of God.”
Everyone placed their eyes on him; Kizito, Namazzi, Mugisha, Mirembe, Omara. His wife did not. She slowly got up, back into her seat, removed her Bible from her bag and stared into it.