A PLACE I GREW UP TO HATE
NGOZI ROSE UP FROM THE SOFA, LIKE A GHOST FROM ITS GRAVE. A long screech from a microphone,that was being tested outside the compound had woken her up from sleep. Her head throbbed painfully as she stood up and looked through the window.She saw a woman standing beside a bus.The woman was struggling with the wires of the microphone she was holding.Then,Ngozi heard a voice,a little distant,on the left from the woman.
“Come to our church,THE HEALERS PLACE, and see how God will do wonders in your life through the Anointed Man of God”.
HEAT WAS TOO MUCH IN THE DARK ROOM,Ngozi was sweating profusely,her sweats trickled down her eyes and it burns.She walked outside to sit on a bench in front of her compound and realised the woman standing on the road with a speaker,was her neighbour- Mama Godwin – a woman who hung in a white oversized blouse,blue print wrapper carefully tied across her waist,scarf around her head,covering her forehead and almost covering her ears.She doesn’t wear earrings.Her large ears reminded Ngozi of an elephant’s.Mama Godwin is always on a dry fasting,and it had made her looked unhealthy.
“Give your life to christ my sisters and brothers,mothers and fathers,before it is too late”
Mama Godwin said,after her loudspeaker stopped screeching.A little distance on the right,from Mama Godwin is another preacher,without a louspeaker, shouting as though to over shadow her.
”Stop wasting your time in Babalawo’s house,come to our twenty day revival program tagged: ‘IT IS OVER WITH MY ENEMY’ ”.
The breeze outside the compond was much and it had dried up Ngozi’s sweat,she felt much better in the front yard.She had been been battling with the buzzing sounds and bites from mosquitoes,while her siblings snore and yawn all night in the hot and dark room,she was swinging broom in the air to chase mosquitoes.
“Young girls,wearing trousers and shorts,exposing their body,claiming finess.Adultery and fornication.Sista all these things are sin,and it’s hell,hell sista,hell! Change your ways now and repent before it is too late”
Mama Godwin continued,walking back and forth,with increased energy.Ngozi gave a scornful look.She is the only one outside,who wore a short that exposed her thighs and a tube top,that exposed her chest and belly.She got exasperated and walked up to Mama Godwin.
“Its you who need to change your ways Mama Godwin,you judgemental preachers.You need a change from your religiously brainwashed lifestyle.Yes you! You all would not make heaven with your spiteful words”.Mama Godwin looked startled,she could not imagine Ngozi’s guts “Chineke! May God have mercy upon you” Mama Godwin said.
‘It is you who needs the mercy of God in your life.You need serious deliverance Mma Godwin.Nonsense!”.Ngozi said and hissed as she walked back to sit on the bench.
Ngozi sat on the bench,in the dark morning for hours,frustrated.She thought about most nights when she would have to wake up killing mosquitoes,or wake up fanning herself when there is too much heat because there is no power supply from NEPA.And early in the morning when she tries to rest a little,comes the disturbing noise of preachers.She had grown so much hate for Ajegunle:a place where she and her siblings were raised by her late parents,a place with so much preachers and sinners,a place dominated by religious houses yet with immoral people.A place filled with mediocre minds,with mundane ambitions.She wondered why most youths register in mushroom computer institutes in the area,after secondary school, just to get the job on the Island as office assistant.They say one of the best people with great careers came from here,yet she could not think of many.She could only think about Daddy Showkey,whom she is not too proud of; he didn’t make much impact to her.These days,she watched him on tv,doing campaigns for politicians,as though it is what is left of him,to feed himself and family.
Tears trickled down her face as she lost her self in deep thoughts.She had convinced her self to maintain the relationship with her boyfriend,Tunde Balogun:a forty year old divorced banker who owns a house in Lekki.Tunde provided almost all her needs,and he would be the platfrom to the better life she craved.She had spent weeks in his house in Lekki:A cool calm area,free of noise and dust,free of fumes from generators and condemned buses.A place full of luxury houses and cars,a place where there are no preachers,disturbing the peace in the neighbourhood.Perhaps these are the many reasons why she loosed taste for Ajegunle.Mama Godwin had once called her,aside, when she saw Tunde dropped Ngozi in the neighbourhood,to stop going out with men,she assumed are married. “It’s a sin!,that man looks married and what you’re doing with him is fornication and adultery,Ngozi! Please.I advise. Change your ways! So that you can make heaven”. Ngozi hissed and walked out on her.