Dear Ochenna,
Yesterday Egba cried. His scooped-like dark lower lip – I had asked him countless times if he smoked weed and cigar – displayed his haphazard arranged dentition. He writhed in pain, turned and turned like an earthworm doused with cooking salt. It was like a ‘‘breaking’’ dancer turning on a rolling barber’s chair. The last time I saw him doing the bitter drama  of a sour story was few years ago when Odom died. Anytime he gazed at the particular spot on the wall where Odom’s bold picture sat, his eyes would become red. I had to keep it away from the white cemented brick but Egba won’t let it go.
It was the last day of the week in the harmattan season. The uncovered part of my skin cracked. Despite the moisturizer I applied in the morning, my face and Egba’s looked like ash when we walked past a parked tinted black Toyota Highlander Jeep, walking to catch up with the pre-service. I carried Robb around yet, my lips cracked.
Within minutes, we gathered again under the shades of the constructed brick structure. The church: the spiritual centre where prayers are answered once they are said. And where worships songs sometimes sang emotionally are misconstrued to be spirit-filled. That day, the sky was too white. It won’t rain because Pastor prayed against rain the last time we went to the Mountain to pray. We, the prayer band, stayed there for many hours before we climbed down. It was another way of doing mount-climbing. Once we are told to migrate again, we move swiftly to cry in faith with tapeworms feeding on intestines since the stomach is restrained from eating. It is a sin to eat there.
The last time we went to the mountain, Pastor told us to go alone. So, Brother Jude – that’s his the church name – I mean Egba led us because he visited the place often. I don’t like calling him Brother John but I am forced to utter it. The reasons behind his new name are numerous but itchy to my ears. Egba! I enjoyed the name. Calling it allows the tip of my tongue romance the soft palate.
Once we’re on the mountain, our actions were militarised. We the physical ‘militia’ beings are expected to wrestle unseen ‘insurgent’ forces. Sometimes, we fight the air we breathe in and out. We hit the rocky ground with our hands, and other things that are unusual and abnormally normal. At the mountain, we prayed hard.
Then we returned to church for the Sunday service. A day that’s anticipated for: when our Pastor will be resting on the pulpit. The Choir had prepared our minds with their special songs. Oh God! They did as expected: using the microphone and shouting at the topmost voices when lights go off. The instrumentalist must have cursed the craziness. But sorry, they are obliged to be perfect because they are working for God.
Electricity tripped off and on: that’s not strange in a country like ours. The keyboardist was tired pressing keys and in some seconds, he became and onlooker in the robes. The guitarist was sick of wrapping such heavy instrument round his shoulder. The last time electricity repeated the same feat, some vowed not to sing again because the system was too crazy. In our homeland, you hold no one responsible for inefficiency. This is a place where incompetency is highly noted and respected publicly.
Later in the day, beautiful Tina visited us. After many minutes of talking, I left Egba and Tina for Abang’s place and came back in the evening. That was when I met Egba crying and sweating profusely. He had his big bible opened in front of him. Of course, Tina had left. But, Ochenna, I’m lost. I don’t know what went wrong with Brother Jude, my very own Egba. Ochenna, do you have any idea of what happened? Could he have crossed the sacred rubbicon that should be visited after solemnisation? I hope your answer won’t be similar to my thought.
I await your reply. Make it quick so that Egba and I can climb the mountain again and stay there for days. At least, I will see the brown roofs of afar villages; rodents making love; and Egba knocking his hand on the rock since that’s his procedure in seeking for forgiveness.
FAB Obisanya

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