‘Bolanle, you should apologize to that man’, Kitan said.
‘Apologize for what? For what?’ I retorted. ‘Please don’t annoy me o. Didn’t you see what happened? Abi you didn’t hear what he said? He should be the one apologizing to me. Such a pompous, arrogant man! Mtcheeewwww’, I hissed in contempt.
‘Bolanle!’ Franca exclaimed. ‘You are still inside the church o. Mind what you say’.
‘Wo, me I don’t hide my mouth. I say it how it is. That man needs to encounter Jesus. He cannot claim that he is born again and be acting like a fool’. With that, I stormed out of the store room. I needed to get some fresh air and some water too. Today’s service had been going smoothly for me, until that man decided to ruin it.
I am an usher in Zion’s Gate Bible Church. The church is one of the largest in the vicinity, with membership of over one thousand people. Each Sunday, the auditorium was usually filled to overflowing, more so since Pastor Jide Morgan, the General Overseer, did not fancy splitting Sunday services into two or three services. Today was not different and as usual, the ushering department had the responsibility of controlling the movement and sitting arrangements inside the auditorium. We directed worshippers to sit row by row, line by line so as to avoid late comers walking up to the front to look for empty seats thereby causing distractions.
I was standing at my duty post, close to the back door entrance when the man stepped in. I walked towards him with a large smile on my face and tried to direct him to a free seat at the back. The sermon was already going on and all the seats towards the front were occupied. The man ignored me and continued walking ahead.
‘Sir’, I called out calmly. He turned to look at me. ‘There are no empty seats in front. You can’t go up there’.
‘My friend reserved a seat for me’, he replied.
‘We don’t do that here’, I replied calmly.
‘Do what?’ He asked with a quizzical look on his face.
‘Reserve seats’, I replied, slightly irritated. It seemed he was quite new to the church. By this time, heads were already looking in our direction.
‘Follow me, I’ll show you where to sit’
‘I don’t sit at the back, young lady. I am not a backbencher’, he said calmly.
‘Then why don’t you learn the habit of coming to church early’, I snapped.
‘Excuse me?’ he turned to look at me in the face.
‘You heard me well’, I answered. My temper was gradually boiling. ‘I am an usher here and I have the responsibility of showing you where to sit. You lost the right to choose your seat the moment you came into church one hour, fifteen minutes late! Please, let’s not cause a scene here. Follow me’.
I turned and started walking back towards a row that had three empty seats. Mr. pompous didn’t follow me. He stood there, looking at me. By this time, Kitan, a fellow usher had noticed what was happening and hurried towards me.
‘Bolanle what is it?’ she inquired.
‘That man is getting on my nerves o’.
‘It’s okay, let me handle it’, Kitan replied.
She walked towards Mr. Pompous and started talking with him. The next thing I heard Mr. Pompous say was ‘how can you allow such a bad mouthed, ill-mannered lady serve as an usher in a church!
Yeeeh! Did this arrogant man just call me ill mannered? My ears were gradually turning red. I started walking towards him. I was going to give him a piece of my mind. I didn’t care if I was in church or not.
Thankfully, Franca hurriedly whisked me out of the auditorium into the store room before I would cause more damage.
As I stood outside, I evaluated all that happened. There was no way I was at fault. If the man had just simply listened to me, all these wouldn’t have occurred. Such an arrogant man. Who does he think he is, anyway? And Kitan wants me to apologize to him. For what? God forbid. I was right, he was wrong. He should apologize, Period.
I drank the rest of the water in my hand, threw the plastic bottle in the waste bin and went into the auditorium.
After service, I waited for Kitan so we could go home together. We lived on the same street. Kitan was attending to a new comer, a middle aged woman with ebony black skin. Some minutes later, she walked up to me.
‘Let’s go’, she said as she wiped her face with a handkerchief.
We walked out of the church compound and started our journey home. Our street was about fifteen minutes’ walk from the church so we didn’t mind trekking the distance. Sometimes, we were lucky to get a ride from church members who were going in our direction.
‘Bolanle, you need to do something about this your temper’, Kitan started.
‘Kitan, what is wrong with my temper?’ I replied, looking straight ahead.
‘You get offended easily. You find it very difficult to say you are sorry. It doesn’t speak well of you as a Christian’.
‘Is it because of what happened today?’ I asked.
‘Not just that’. Kitan answered. ‘Bolanle, I’ve watched you since we became friends. You don’t handle disagreements well. You take offences too personal. I’ve seen you quarrel and keep malice with your neighbor for days because of a slight misunderstanding. Whenever we have issues, you never apologize to me, whether you are wrong or right’.
‘Bolanle’, Kitan called as she slowed down her pace. ‘You need to do something about it’
I stopped and faced Kitan. Kitan is my very good friend, but sometimes she acted like she was the Holy Spirit Himself. Did she think she was perfect?
‘Madam Righteousness, I have heard you’, I replied. It’s just that I don’t like people taking advantage of the fact that I am a Christian to make a fool out of me. Even the Bible says we should be as wise as serpents. I know my temper is quite short, but I’m praying about it. After all, nobody is perfect. We all have weaknesses. Oya join me in prayers too’.
Kitan smiled. ‘God will help you ore mi (my friend). The same Bible you quoted also said in Romans 12 verse 18 that as much as possible, live in peace with all men. Not some o, all men. Can you try that?’
‘Wo (look), I’ve heard you Kitan. Let’s be going, ebi npa mi’ (I am hungry)
‘Ehn, I hope you don’t have any plans of stopping at my place to eat o’, Kitan asked as she poked my side.
I laughed. ‘Before nko. If I don’t eat lunch at your place, where else will I go?’
‘Long throat’, Kitan said. ‘You better start cooking o, these your hands are not for decoration’.
‘Yes mummy Theresa’, I replied mockingly.
By this time, we had gotten to Kitan’s gate. She pushed it open and we both walked to her apartment. Kitan lived in a self-contain apartment with her younger sister, Bukunmi. She also worked as a secretary in a consulting firm, so she was quite a busy person. I mostly got to see her during weekends or mid-week services and Bible Study in church. Kitan was a dedicated Christian. She never joked with church activities, no matter how tired she was. It was her dedication to things and her maturity that kept our friendship going.
After eating until my stomach almost burst open, I made my way to my house. Kitan was sweet enough to pack an extra plate of stew for me to go with. She knew how much I hated cooking, and she was always available to rescue a damsel in distress.
As I entered my compound, I saw Chidinma doing her laundry at the tap. She looked up as the gate creaked open and saw me. She muttered a ‘good afternoon’ under her breath and continued washing. I simply passed by her with my head held up high. I ignored her greetings and pretended she didn’t exist. Does she think I have forgotten what she did so easily? She didn’t even have the courtesy to apologize. Instead, the other day, she brought me a bowl of banga soup. Even though I knew she was trying to make peace with me, I ignored it and simply told her that I wasn’t dying of hunger. She quietly closed my door and left. I felt bad afterwards, but she deserved it jare. Let me rewind a little.
We share a general space in the compound for hanging our clothes to dry. Last Friday evening, I had washed my white lace gown and spread it on the line with some other clothes. TJ, my church member was having his wedding the next day, and I planned to wear the white lace gown. The next morning, I woke up to discover that Chidinma had squeezed all my clothes together at one end of the line in order to make space to spread her own clothes. In the process, the dye from my red skirt stained the white lace badly. It was impossible for me to wear it that morning. I went mad. It took the intervention of the other neighbors for us not to engage in a physical fight. I was so angry that I started crying. We traded a lot of hurtful words, and I slammed my door in frustration. Kitan came by later, and all her efforts to get me to attend the wedding proved abortive. I was no longer in the mood. Since that day, Chidinma and I had not been on talking terms. Sometimes my conscience pricked me and some other times, I just didn’t care. Like today.
That night, as I lay down to sleep, my mind wandered. My last relationship ended about six months ago, and it still hurt. If anybody had told me that I and Victor wouldn’t get married, I would have called the person a blatant liar. We loved each other so much, and I was so sure he was the will of God for my life. We prayed together, studied together, hung out together, did almost everything together. My life at that moment revolved around Victor. The relationship ended over a simple misunderstanding, and because pride got in the way.
What actually happened between Bolanle and Victor? Find out in Episode 2
Thanks for reading!