The prayer began and I could see the same people who could have snapped ‘You don’t clap or rejoice during lent. It is a sorrowful season.’ They danced and danced and clapped as though they were at a pentecostal party.

A boy who looked so young; I knew he was either a year or so older than me was seating on the pew before mine. My eyes watched him as the dancing was done. He didn’t dance, he only clapped. He didn’t make noise like others.

The prayer started. People began to walk around praying. The pioneer Principal of my school began to shiver. Her scarf danced sort of jigi-jigi on her head. A boy was lifting his bible as though he was in a combat with a quarrelsome enemy. On the other church wing a little boy was moving about, jumping and raising his arm in a total mimicry of what he saw.

The boy who stood before me fell. First on the seat then on the floor. I can’t say it was the spirit but the force swept him off the floor. He battled to stand. He was rolling on the dust-dirty floor. The prayer minister had already commanded that all eyes be shut, but mine were widely open. People were walking about, lifting their hands and speaking in tongues. I heard a woman who was like an Ave-Marian — she was so slim though tall also, she was shouting some words which sounded like: la-la-bo-bo-bo-sa-sa-ta-ta-ta. The instrumentals kept playing as though the sound-makers — instrumentalists — wanted to spice up the prayers or was that their own prayer? Would God answer the prayers faster if the instrumentals kept playing? Two men — apart the minister — were with microphones, scream-speaking in tongues so loudly as though their God could never hear if they prayed in solitude and tranquility.

While all these were going on the Reverend Father and me and one other lady were the only ones who did not take part in all the prayer routines, postures and procedures.

The congregation was asked to shout ‘holy ghost fire’ seven times. Every palm was directed towards the Eucharistic Jesus as the congregation shouted the holy ghost fires. I felt sympathy for Jesus. Some minutes later, the prayer was over.

The boy who stood before me was Solomon Igwe.

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