Fire! Fire!! Fire!!!
The loud chant woke her from sleep. In a matter of seconds, she had switched on the bedside lamp and picked up her laptop which lay by her, on the bed.
It occurred to her as she rushed out of the room that this was not a chant alerting people of a burning something. It was from a church invoking the Holy Spirit in the neighborhood. She checked the time. It was nine minutes past two a.m. She sighed deeply, and thought to herself, this is the day.
Esinam moved into this neighborhood a little over a month ago. The new location was closer to her new workplace and the rent was far cheaper than her old place.
Back in her former neighborhood, there was a mobile preacher who came around every other day with a megaphone. He’d wake up the whole area with messages of sin and repentance, calling on everyone to surrender their life ‘surrender’ to Christ— for He, the Messiah, was coming soon.
As for the ‘Jesus is coming soon’ business, Esinam found it very questionable: Jesus had been declared “coming soon” ever since her Sunday School days. Once, she had asked a ‘Man of God’ about this, and he had responded “Sister, the ways of the Lord our God are not the ways of Man, and the ways of his Kingdom, Heaven, are not the ways of Earth. Heaven is real, just like hell is. Our Lord Jesus will come; only, no one knows when.”
Even though the mobile preacher and his acts of intrusion were a nuisance to Esinam, she did not care so much, really. The preacher’s reporting time—a few minutes before or after four thirty a.m.—was her waking time, anyway.
The other day at work, Esinam complained to her colleague, Anita, about the disturbance created on a nightly basis by the churches in her new neighborhood. The session had ended with Anita teasingly urging her to get used to the situation just as she had gotten used to the four thirty five a.m. call to prayer by the muezzin of the mosque in her area.
“One day, one day” was Esinam’s response.
Esinam put a wrapper over her nightie and scurried into the starry night.
Living Bread and Resurrection Fire Of The Lord International Ministries.
That was where all the fire that invaded her sleep was coming from. She barged into the premises, which looked very much like a classroom: a clumsily cleaned blackboard all the way in the front, charts haphazardly plastered around, broken desks stacked against the wall in the far left corner of the back. Esinam couldn’t see how the number of people present in the room could produce the decibel levels of sound she heard in our bedroom until she saw the huge loudspeakers mounted around the premises.
There were roughly thirty people in there. About a third of whom were men, and the remaining, of course, were women.
Esinam was hardly noticeable amidst all the activity: the chanting, the praying, the sweating, the pacing, the gesticulating, all the theatrics.
She walked straight to the podium. On it stood two men and a woman who seemed to be leading the action. One of the men particularly stood out: his shirt was the most soaked with sweat, and it clung to his skin just like an extremely undersized piece of clothing would the body of its wearer. A sizable Holy Cross pendant glistened as it dangled on his midriff. He was the only light-skinned one among the three on the podium, and it was quite evident from the unevenness of his tone that he arrived at his current complexion by way of skin lightening creams. Maybe soaps. Or perhaps some other skin bleaching agent altogether. Esinam found it quite baffling that this was a common thing among ‘men and women of God’ as well. She rapidly recollected that satiric article she’d read not so long ago about “The Real Reasons Why Black People Bleach Their Skins.” One of these reasons, according to the article, was so that they could look like the Savior, Jesus Christ. She had howled with laughter when she read it. Tonight was no occasion for laughter, though. Esinam was not in the mood, and neither did she have the time, for that.
She hurled a long string of words at them until they noticed her and slowly brought their performance to a halt. This seemed to have sent a signal to the congregants on the floor…and so, slowly, the fire in the congregation too, quenched.
As if all of that fire was collected and deposited into her being, Esinam raged on, ferociously:
“‘God! Is! Not! Deaf! I would have expected you people who read the bible every second to know that! Have you forgotten about Hannah in the Bible? Ahba! What is this?”
Meanwhile, some members of the church had formed a small circle, discussing this unbelievable woman:
“I’m very sure the fire was burning her…”
“No fear, no respect, no shame…”
“…at all…a woman too”
“One of those book people, I’m sure”
“Or perhaps one of the returned-from-overseas people”
“When you end up in hell tomorrow, you will say it is the devils fault”
“Ayoo,” the group agreed.
“Me, I’ve said all I have to say. The next time my sleep is interrupted by your noise, I will not come here alone, and I will also make sure you’re arrested and this place closed down.”
Esinam walked out of the building, and into the night, which was by now, oddly, very chilly.
It’s been over a week since the incident, and there hasn’t been a repeat, or anything close to one. Night-time in Esinam’s neighborhood has since become a serene period, and night’s sleep have become the sound experiences they ought to be.
The question, though, is: for how long is this new-found tranquillity going to last? The answer would have to be what the Man of God told Esinam on the day she asked him when exactly Jesus will be coming: no one knows.
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