Folaji woke up to the loudspeakers of the church in the compound next to his, he thought he had been dreaming, because the words of whoever was talking, were almost like they were in his head. He cringed in his sleep and slowly realized that he was not dreaming and that the words were much louder and deafening, coming from a loudspeaker not very far from his window. He forced his eyes open and strained to look at his bedside clock. 12.30am! ‘Ah! What manner of wickedness is this?’ He thought to himself. He had only just gotten home from work at about 10.30pm and had gone to bed around 11.30pm and expected to be on the road to work by 4.30am and now this. This was not the first time he had been disturb by the night vigil antics of the same Church. He had complained to the landlord of that compound, who told him that he should manage, since it was not an everyday thing, he had asked about, how to go about reporting the church to the Lagos state government, since this could be considered as noise pollution, but the process was too long. He closed his eyes and buried his face in his pillow trying to block out the loudspeakers, it was not working. He sat up in bed, tried to think of something else to do, he got up and went to his living room and tried to sleep on the sofa, but the mosquitoes there were not friendly. He could not take this, he got up, still wearing his underwear, a white vest and boxer shorts, he went out the door, went downstairs, out the gate and straight to the entrance of the church, and was totally shocked at the number of people he saw, pastor and choir included, there were just eleven people in the church. The anger boiling in him, he headed for the pulpit, with the intention of going for the microphone in the hands of the pastor and screaming the church down, just before he got to the pulpit, he was intercepted by two men, who approached from both sides of the pulpit, their starched pink shirts and funny looking red ties reminded him of clowns. They stopped in front of him blocking his path
“Good evening sir” they both said, looking and being polite, but the look in their eyes said otherwise, they probably thought he was a lunatic out to make trouble, with him being in his underwear.
Folaji responded sharply “Bros, look at the time” he pointed to a clock on the wall, “it’s almost 1am, it’s morning already! Some of us have not slept at all because of you guys. Is it compulsory that you must use loudspeakers at night?”
“Brother, we are worshipping God, and His praises must be at the loudest possible level” one of the two responded.
“Yes, I understand you are worshipping God, but God is not deaf, you can’t on the basis of worshipping God, disturb and prevent the whole neighborhood from having a good night’s sleep. It’s just not right! Even God wouldn’t approve of this.”
“Brother” the other one said, “God does not reason or think like man. It’s only the heart of man that can consider praises unto God as disturbance”.
Folaji was already at the point of pushing these two aside and going straight for the pastor who seemed to be the one in charge of this place. “What if I’m not interested, should I be forced to listen to the praises of God?” Folaji asked.
At this the pastor came down from the pulpit and walked to Folaji and replied “No, you cannot be forced to listen to the praises of God, but you can choose not to listen, as apostles we deliver the message, whether you choose to listen or not should be your option”.
Folaji looked at the man in shock, and told him “So you are saying, you are going to continue, without regards as to whether you are disturbing the whole neighborhood or not? Not even considering turning off the loudspeakers?”
“Brother” the pastor said, “Why don’t you go home, get dressed and come join us”
Folaji was furious, he felt like grabbing the pastor by the neck, he felt like going on rampage and smashing and destroying everything in the church. He counted five men in the church and wondered if he could take them all, or how long it would take before he could be stopped. It was almost like the pastor could read his mind, because the next thing out of the pastor’s mouth was “Young man, do you honestly think that you do can anything here, only you against all of us here? You’d better rebuke the demons that led you here this morning, lest they lead you to a far worse situation”. With that the pastor turned and went back to the pulpit and continued with his vigil like he was never interrupted.
Folaji just looked on, he really could not take them all on his own. He looked round and noticed the rest of the congregation still stared at him like he was truly a lunatic, and at the moment standing there in his underwear, he did look like a lunatic. He turned and went out the church, fully determined to have this situation officially reported to the State government. As he walked back to his home, he wondered how people could be so wicked and inconsiderate in the name of God, all he needed was a good night rest, he was certain that God would not have issues with that. He got to his house, the church loudspeakers were still at full blast. He shut all the windows, trying to drown out the speakers. He wished he had air conditioning. Feeling defeated, but just for this morning, he went straight to his bed, buried his head in his pillows and tried forcing himself back to sleep, blocking out the loudspeakers mentally. He tossed and turned in his bed, as he closed his eyes, he saw the sneering face of the pastor telling him “only you, against all of us here? Rebuke the demons that led you here.” Presently, he wished he could invoke those demons on the pastor now. Folaji kept trying to blot out remembering what had just happened in that church, but the pastor’s face kept coming to him. He felt humiliated that he could not do anything, and that the pastor had indirectly dared him to try. He had failed, and he knew any solace from the government would be a long time coming. He would have to endure with this till further notice. The loudspeakers were still blasting away, the church was singing and had added a drum set to the beat, he opened his eyes it was 2.15am, he got up from the bed, there was no use trying, he was not going to get any sleep. He went into the bathroom and washed his face. Went to his wardrobe and got out his well ironed native attire. He dressed up fit for a Sunday service, picked up some accessories, and went to the closest church that was in full service. The moment he walked into the church, the praise and worship had a slight pause, the pastor and the two ushers gave him an odd look. Folaji smiled back at them, gave a nod, and went to a seat and joined in the praise and worship, clapping and singing along with the others. The pastor and ushers were not at ease with the latest addition to their congregation, but after a while they had to be at ease, because the new member had joined full swing in the activities of the vigil. After the praise and worship, the congregation sat down and the pastor started preaching, Folaji noticed that even in the church, the speakers were so loud that the words of the pastor were not clearly audible. Then it was offering time in which the pastor made a lot of emphasis, telling the congregation to raise their offerings in the air, and dance to the pulpit to give onto the lord by dropping it in a basket in front of the church. At this, the congregation jumped to their feet raising their offerings into the air. Folaji joined in this, raised a crisp one thousand Naira note in the air and started to dance to the pulpit, he got to the pulpit and as he put the money in the basket, he reached into his pocket and brought out a plastic bottle with a small hole in the cap, and proceeded to spray some of the contents of the bottle on the pastor. The pastor jumped back immediately still wondering what could be going on and what the watery substance sprayed on him could be, when the smell of the substance hit his nose. “Ah! Petrol!” he exclaimed, he was still looking at Folaji in shock, the two ushers closing in on the scene. Folaji turned on one of the ushers and also sprayed some petrol on him, this stopped the usher dead in his tracks. Folaji produced a lighter, and snapped the flames out, with a yell he ran towards the pastor. The pastor did not need anyone to tell him to run for his dear life towards the exit. Folaji then started to spray the petrol in every direction around him at the same time waving the lit lighter around, eyes wide open and screaming like a mad man. The chaos that ensued made the church empty in seconds, Folaji chased some of them a few meters down the street, before going back to the church. He pulled down the speakers, poured the remaining petrol on the loudspeakers and the public address system, and set it on fire. He turned and went out the church. The street was deserted, he walked back to his house, loving the eerie silence that he felt. He would call in sick for work today, he went straight to his bed, still in his clothes, and was actually asleep before his head hit the pillows.