The day dad made me walk to church

Meanwhile, back in Uyoma, it’s a lovely Sunday morning…

There is something special about Sundays when you are a budding teenager hoping to lead an upright lifestyle in the village. The previous day, there was a gathering for the Small Christian Community-Jumuiya – visit at home and I was selected in absentia to do the first reading in church. You see, at home, herding is a preserve of the young boys and this time, it fell squarely on me. So on Saturday, I took charge and after watering the animals and having lunch, I headed further afield away from home. We were always warned and it became a tradition that when it’s your turn, you take the cows as far as possible and return in the evening with healthy happy cows.

I returned as the guests were just leaving so not much was said until after I had finished all the chores involving the domestic animals. Mum called me aside and knowing that I could not easily accept standing in front of the congregation reading the bible; she gave me cash to purchase some goods from the shop and happily added that all the balance from the shop are mine even though she knew that there was very little left. Am trapped now and will do all her wishes. In no time, I was back from the shop and busy enjoying my sweets from the balance promised. Mum is in the kitchen doing the utensils and being a large family, there was always excess tea for anyone to quench their thirst. The jumuiya team left some too and beside the three stones fire place, I can see a big aluminum kettle. She read my mind, offered me the bench beside her and says ‘nyathina iol sana, bed piny imadh chai bang tich matek (my child you seem very tired, please sit down and have some tea after tough job).  She has a leso wrapped around her waist, I sit beside her, our backs touching each other; she stops a bit to look at me, that motherly gaze, scouring pad in her right hand, medium sized sufuria in her left hand, water dripping from both hands… Yes, she has me all figured out

Am relaxed, I feel at home so I grab a clean metallic mug and fill it with tea. Mum instructs me that there is githeri so I grab another plate and scoop some. The githeri is warm, full of beans from first harvest and the aroma is welcoming. I wash my hands then dig in. This time mum is rinsing the last plate and the feeling is just perfect! Dusk is fast approaching. I don’t want to leave the kitchen. I feel I belong here… We are bonding. Mum then tells me to empty the dirty water somewhere. We had some banana plants behind the kitchen and I decide to help the suckers reproduce quickly. Everything is clean now and well arranged so we have time to chat more and that’s when am informed that I was selected to handle the first reading in church tomorrow.

Supper went well but I could not sleep that night…just picturing myself in the pulpit, facing the congregation, everybody listening only to ME, a small black potato-head boy with dimples, beaming with shyness, walking from his seat to the ambo, after the hymn, then open the chapter from the old testament and say the words audibly and have people’s attention. This was my moment; I must not let anyone down. I woke up pretty early, very early and since dad is an early riser, I had hoped of enjoying a ride on his bike which he was very cool with as mum had prepared the way before. So he knew he would carry me to church, about 3.4km from home. Since home is downhill from where we are heading to, we walk a bit to clear the steep as baba cannot ride uphill with a 40kg boy at the back.

Before making even a hundred metres on the main road, more congregants join us. Dad knows them, so the enthusiasm by which he greeted them was a very clear sign that it was going to be an interesting journey on our way to church. Dad had a trademark baseball hat branded Chicago Bulls.

Dad (‘with all his ivory outside’): Amosou kanyo, Ruoth oyaonwa piny kendo (Greetings to you all, God has granted us another day)

Congregant 1: Kamano Gabriel, wachieo maber (That’s correct Gabriel, we woke up fine)

Dad: Wabende eri wasewuok wadhi lamo (We are out on our way to church too)

Congregant2: Lamo ber, tinde ndalo tin wamak mana Yeso (It’s good to pray, people don’t live long these days, let’s just stick to Jesus)

I walked to church…

I managed to practice the scripture reading a couple of times before mass.

In a checked shirt, brown khaki pants and black sandak shoes, I sat pensively behind the choir members.

It’s time. The Priest approached with the altar boys and the Entrance Chant is sung. He arrived at the altar and after making a profound bow, he venerated the altar. After the introductory rite was concluded then came the penitential act. The absolution then followed and this time, my heartbeat is racing double. We sung hymn but am mumbling, butterflies racing in my stomach when everything finally came to a stop, the song is ended. We are in the liturgy of the word.

I read and concluded ‘Word of the Lord’

When the church was ended, I left using the back entrance and from a distance, I saw dad with a group of friends, his friends. The narrative he was spreading was, ‘that first reader was my son’. I had rightly earned that ride back home. But not before he made me greet people as we walked past the church compound.

I could smell pride somewhere but as for me I just wanted to get home and eat some chapat that mum preserved for me when the guests came yesterday…

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