There is royalty in the body of Christ, and my family was just about to find out.
Sitting in the congregation, among the throng of people, my siblings and I watched our parents on this large podium. I was particularly nervous because Mum could be so fidgety, and she never did well with people she wasn’t familiar with. And not looking so shabby compared to the wife of the late archbishop. Forgive me, but my parents looked it. Shabby. Dressed in our “Sunday Bests” of lace gowns and Daddy and the boys wore their best suits. We all did.
I confirmed so when Edidiong murmured, from the end of our sitting row, across Freke, Idara, Aunt Chioma, and Ima to me, “They look like farmers up there.”
He chuckled and Aunt Chioma cautioned him. But two other members who sat on the row before ours turned and laughed. Confirmation.
I noted in my heart that we’d all need a change of wardrobe.
My parents did well with the message though. Dad was full of the anointing. He didn’t speak with the nasal tang I noticed everyone else on the altar had, or some foreign kind of accent. He was just a simple Akwa-Ibom man who’d spent the last twenty-five years serving the down-trodden of Nigerian.
After service, we stood listless in a bunch as members chatted around and socialized. Back home in Aba, Dad called it “fellowship after fellowship.”
Edidiong was being stupid with his comments, though true, on how so odd we were. “Let Daddy just collect some millions and leave this place.” He laughed. “He can’t even speak their accent.”
I swallowed. “Shut up. Someone is coming towards us.”
A man and a lady, both dressed in expensive looking dark suits walked straight to us. The man looked at Aunt Chioma. “New pastor’s family?”
She nodded, and curtseyed. “Yes sir.”
“Come with us.”
I made a note in my mind to remind her not to curtsey next time. The lady with the man had wrinkled her nose when she did.
We were taken all the way through the large hall, back to the place we entered from, the offices and large waiting areas, and led to an office. It looked more like a reception because it was big and beautifully furnished. The furniture was black leather, and the floor looked like marble. A lot like the house we came from. I could almost say the same person did all the interior.
A lady sat behind a big desk, and smiled when we walked in. Shortly afterward, the two ushers who’d brought us, I assumed they were, came back in with two large trays with drinks and assorted snacks.
“Help yourselves,” the lady said.
We chorused our gratitude and before Edidiong could say something nasty, Aunt Chioma slapped his thigh, the nearest part of his anatomy to her. Everyone laughed.
I’d never tasted meat pie so good. There was cake so fluffy, and doughnuts so succulent, and chicken so tasty. The assortment of chilled drinks included juice, soft drinks and malt.
My “hungered” siblings and I went for anything except Coke and Fanta. When we were fully stuffed, we relaxed and watched a large screen showing a preacher, I later realized was the late archbishop.
Our parents didn’t show up until almost four hours later. We were tired, and had taken another round of snacks and drinks from the trays.
The ushers came to take us with them again, and this time, we were back at the parking lot, and Mum and Dad joined us shortly.
We crowded Mum, needing information.
She didn’t have a smile on her face, which was a bad sign. “They’re taking us back to Banana Island to pack up. We’re moving here.”
Her last statement sounded almost like she would cry.
I rubbed her back. “You’re strong, Mama!”
She smiled sadly. “Eno my darling. Always trying to make everyone happy.”
I whispered in her ears. “You’ll gist me everything, right?”
She laughed. “Eno, the amebo journalist.”
The house we were given on the Revive Resort was a palace. Best part was that we all had a room each to ourselves.
The sprawling duplex had twelve bedrooms, four on the ground floor and eight on the first floor. Mum was just about complaining of who would maintain the place, when a rotund woman ran out to meet us. She was introduced as Mama Pepper. Her story will come up another day. But she was our housekeeper, and we had a house full of servants. Four cleaners, two cooks, two gardeners, two drivers, four security guards, and two helpers.
“What are helpers for, again?” Of course, my nosy brother was the one who asked.
“To send on errands,” Mama Pepper said, though Edidiong had whispered the question.
He looked ashamed, and rightfully.
Finally, alone upstairs, with bedrooms allocated, we gathered in the living room, there were three others, two guest parlours, and a smaller private sitting room.
We’d had a heavy dinner, served and plates cleared. Relaxed, about to start living like royalty, Mum said, “We can’t live like this. Nobody will do house work?”
We all groaned and shouted.
Dad silenced us. “Do you people not know what is happening? This is not funny anymore. We must adapt and re-adapt. So tomorrow, Mummy is going to work with Mama Pepper. You all are going to have duties.”
I nodded. “It’s true. We can’t live like this.”
Edidiong snickered at my comment, rolled his eyes and mumbled. “Traitor.”
I was used to his antagonism. Someone had to be a voice of reason. Instead of making a comment, I turned to Dad. “Sorry to change the subject. Daddy, that song you took in the church, nobody knew it.” I gave a tentative shrug. “People around where we sat were even laughing at you.”
Edidiong smiled. “Farmers.”
Mum pressed her lips and slanted her mouth downward.
Dad smiled. “It was intentional. We all have to adapt and re-adapt.”
Photo credit: https://pixabay.com/en/ready-vicar-church-religion-faith-1153149/