Every Other Sunday: by Victoria Naa Takia Nunoo

Today’s not the day you go to church

You gather your laundry, your basins, your dirty shoes and bags, and drop a pack of washing powder on top of the pile, before dragging it out of your room and into the corridor, where the filth is visible and the stench is high up in the air. You leave the scene of crime – for this is a crime – and you do so as discreetly as possible, crawling on all fours if you must, back into your room. You shut your door, not tightly though, for you must overhear the imminent conversation.

“Is she going?”

“I’m not sure, look at that laundry.”

“So she’s not going?”

“She needs to wash them, tomorrow is Monday.”

You sit behind the door listening, waiting.

Today’s not the day you go to church.

 

The day you go to church

Your father drives you out of the house like a Fulani cattleman drives his herd to graze. You haven’t been to church in two weeks, and a little voice in your head scolds you for being the black sheep of your family. But if you can still hear the little voice, surely, it means your conscience is still at work, and the voice of the spirit – of reason – is yet to depart from your heart.

At church, you think about all the sacrifices you made to be in His presence; the laundry sitting in your room, the unironed clothes, the vegetables waiting to be sliced and diced. Your thoughts are cut short by a series of prayers, and soon, you’re inching towards the edge of unconsciousness.

A loud ‘Amen!’ wakes you up. It’s request hour. About twenty people are up on their feet. The microphone goes round, requests flood in, starting with the staples.

“I want to thank God for my life and the life of my family. I pray that He continues to protect us in the coming week,” the first woman says.

“I thank God for travelling mercies. During the week, I travelled to Bolga. By the grace of God, I’m back safely.”

You glance at your watch. 10:45am. This can go on for hours.

“For the past week, I haven’t been able to swallow big lumps of food. It is as if my throat is locked. I pray for God’s mercies to open my throat. Amen.”

“I have been constipated for the past three days. I eat and eat, but for some reason I’m unable to take a shit. I pray I get healed in Jesus’ name!”

“My stomach has been running since last night. I’m sure it was the fufu I ate around 8pm. I feel so light right now. I think I’ve lost about 10kg just from shitting alone. Help me ask God for healing.”

You refuse to join the ridiculous chorus of Amens. You wonder how people can bother God with such frivolous prayers, when all over the world, mass murders, terrorist attacks, earthquakes and tsunamis are claiming lives. It’s no wonder your prayers have still not been answered. God has been busy receiving prayers about loose and hard stool.

You glance at your watch again. 11:07am. You sit through the remaining prayer requests. Never again, you say to yourself.

The sermon lasts for 50 minutes. You doze off. The few times you’re awake, there are a ton of Bible verses being thrown around. By the end of it all, you have forgotten the theme of the sermon.

You go through the communion ritual; God’s body in between your teeth, and his blood being swished around in your mouth. 45 more minutes for announcement, songs and closing prayer. Plus one hour for fraternizing, like they didn’t see each other six days ago. You return home tired, hungry, grumpy as fuck, and prepared to write a manifesto on why Ghanaian churches need tea breaks, at least.

 

Six days later

You gather your laundry, your basins, your dirty shoes and bags, and drop a pack of washing powder on top of the pile, before dragging it out of your room and into the corridor, where the filth is visible and the stench is high up in the air. You leave the scene of crime – for this is a crime – and you do so as discreetly as possible, crawling on all fours if you must, back into your room. You shut your door, not tightly though, for you must overhear the imminent conversation.

“Is she going?”

“I’m not sure, look at that laundry.”

“So she’s not going?”

“She needs to wash them, tomorrow is Monday.”

You sit behind the door listening, waiting.

Today’s not the day you go to church.

 


Victoria Naa Takia Nunoo (@naatakia) is a Ghanaian writer and poet. Her works of fiction have appeared in The Kalahari Review, Brittle Paper, Afridiaspora, and in the anthology, ‘The Different Shades of a Feminine Mind’; an African Women Writers Literary Project. She was a finalist in the 2017 RL Poetry Award and a contributor to the PRAXIS response chapbook, Around The Fire 5.

Related country: Ghana

All rights to this story remain with the author. Please do not repost or reproduce this material without permission.