Previously on Memories
I walked to the front of the hall and faced the hundreds of eyes devouring me, expectant. I could feel the small lump that stuck in my throat when the principal and the proprietress concluded that I would be preaching, increasing. For a moment, I was lost on how to begin. And the more time I wasted, the more the lump grew so that with time, my nasal cavity would be blocked and no word would come out. To gain confidence, I needed to start talking; to start talking, I needed confidence.
What would Apostle Joshua Salman do?
“Your kingdom reign,” I began to sing with a faint voice. “Your kingdom reign, above all, above all. Let your kingdom reign…” It seemed the kids didn’t know the song but I continued to sing. They picked up the song and then when I sang, “Let Your kingdom reign,” they replied, “Your kingdom reign” and then we would chorus: “Above all, above all.”
I have my eyes shut in order not to see the disaster that I was. Chisom took over the singing and I used the respite to mouth prayers to God. “Mercy Lord,” I pleaded. “I am not worthy to speak for you. Use me.”
I was praying inside of me but I could hear the fear in my voice. I could smell my fell.
When the first song seemed to have lost its steam, I sang “Yes You are the king of kings, yes you’re the Lord of lords.”
With time, the assembly picked up the song and Chisom soon began to lead.
By the time we sang the third song “Let it reign” I was now finding boldness and my mind was becoming clearer. When I was first asked to preach, I made a mental note to preach on Proverbs 29:18 which states, in part, “Where there is no vision, the people perish”; it was one of my favourite Bible portions and today it came to my rescue.
Since there were nursery, primary, and secondary pupils in the hall, I decided to strike the most simplistic tone. After I asked the kids to read the verse in three different versions, I preached with the example of someone walking on a bridge to a beautiful house: would you just jump down into the sea because you don’t like how dirty the bridge is or how people abuse you? You won’t because you have seen the vision at the other end of the bridge – the mansion.
The sermon lasting a quarter of an hour then we prayed and Aunty Oge closed it. The blind did not see, the lame did not walk, the dumb did not talk, and the deaf did not hear. But I was not disgraced, praise the Lord.
After the prayer/sermon session, I rushed up and settled down behind my desk. It was then that my narrow escape hit me and I began to feel the sweat on my brow. What if I messed up the sermon. Hard teacher, hard teacher, but he can’t preach to save his life. This would have ruined me permanently in Mount Sinai International School.
Don’t celebrate too soon, the devil whispered to me, check your trousers zipper.
I caught my breath. If my zipper was open while I was preaching, I would have a heart attack. As I made to look down, I felt someone stand before my desk. It was an angel, Chisom. “We have you,” she said.
Chisom really played a vital role in the success of my preaching this morning. My people would say it is not a day a child spills palm oil that she is beaten. In the same way, it is not a day the child gathers palm fruits from the wild that she is rewarded.
“Is that your way of saying good morning?” I demanded.
“Good morning, sir.”
“Recite the memory verse of my sermon downstairs.”
“I will be in your class right away.”
She turned to go.
I reached for my lesson note. While the blind not seeing, the lame not walking, the dumb did talking, and the deaf not hearing were okay by me as long as the man was not disgraced, it wouldn’t sell with the students whom I bragged that “we shall pursue, we shall overtake, and we shall recover all” plus the ingenious use of wanna-gonna. I sighed. A teacher is not comfortable about entering his class and we said Boko Haram are the only terrorists in the country.
The best way out was to frown but hard as I tried, I couldn’t bring the muscles of my face together to form a serious no-near-me look. I believe, it was the anointing that had deadened my muscles. These children would eat me alive if I entered the class with a normal face. And as today was no Monday, there were no assignment submissions to tension them with and as it wasn’t Literature, there was no text to beef about not owning/reading; I sighed: It isn’t fair teaching these rascals. I rose to my feet.
“The sermon was powerful,” Mrs. Anozie said to me.
I ignored her like I sensed Uma Ukpai would do. I walked to SS2 classroom.
A message hit my phone. I brought it out: it was from Joy and read, “Hmmm, man of God.”
Go behind me, Lucifer, I began to type but stopped midway. No need to fight this one (now). I had a bigger fight in my hands. I entered the classroom.
They were already standing. I went straight to the desk, picked up a piece of chalk, and walked to the board. I wrote English Language then wrote the topic. I faced the mob.
“Guys, please,” I begged, “I am here to teach and please let me do that. If you won’t let me know now so I can go back to the staffroom and rest my bones until you guys are ready. Power left as you can see… Shut up! Just do this for me. If, however, I began to teach and I heard one noise, I will leave and won’t return until each of you bring one white cock, seven tubers of yam, and a basket of kola nuts.”
“Wow,” Adaora said.
I smiled sardonically. “Try me and see.”
I sensed that they would let this go and try again later. That was fine by me. So I taught them without incident.
After the class, on my way to the staffroom, it hit me that I had not yet checked if the zip of my trousers was fastened. I braved myself for the worst and checked. My zip was secured, shame on you.
To be continued. In the meantime, welcome to 2021 (the year twenty in one, my boss would say).