Dictator by Ogunremi Temitope

It was a standard she had never breached for years. She made sure she instilled that in us as well. Sunday school was 8 am and other services till noon.

Morning devotion was 6 am. It was a successive session of songs, prayers and scripture reading. Breakfast was already set by 7 am. Sometimes of toasted bread and milk, or pap and Moi-Moi. 

She made it look like we are indebted to God. Of course, we all owe God something, for us who believe we aren’t a result of element acting upon another, but hers was always at the extreme of gratification. 

“Owe no man nothing but love.” She would always reiterate that that it became her anthem. She would have also reminded us to greet all brethren with a holy kiss but she’s African! She doubted if any kiss were holy save from a husband to his wife or the other way round. However, she had improvised the African way of asking us to always accommodate others. 

On this particular Sunday, it was 8:15 am on her wristwatch, the church door was locked. It was as though the whole world halted. She couldn’t believe it. Her eyes blared; her legs became too weak for her body mass. Other Sundays came like a playback, she saw herself dancing, hitting the tambourine so hard, up in the air. She saw herself smiling at a child, rubbing her hands gently against the child’s cheese. She felt the pastor dishing out his mind pilling sermon, the choir sending up savour to heaven in pleasant rhythms, hands casting their tithes and closed-eyed praying fervently. 

A gentle wind blew passed her, passed and shivered, she quaked and blinked uneasily.

Different bible verses oozed through in her mind. She found her lips mumbling What shall separate us from the love of Christ? Is it tribulation, is it…she almost said is it Covid19?

Her hymn book dripped off her fingers. To her, the word of God has always served the blueprint for living life, for getting things done and the church, an abode to decipher the life’s manual. But that’s different now, there’s a new world order, a dictator who instructs when and how to worship God. She bent down to pick up her songbook. The shade from behind signified there was someone behind her. It was Durojaye’s, the atheist she had always tried to convert. He stretched his hand to request a handshake “Good morning Deaconess Funmilayo.” He smiled. His hand lingered in the air.

She observed him, he fused and was damped in his sweat. “Why do you walk around without a surgical face mask and sweating profusely this early morning?” Her fear glued on her face. 

“Don’t tell me you believe this Nigerian government propaganda of a virus, Deaconess Funmi.” He posed a ridiculous smile. “And for the sweat, I just helped few kids cross that broken bridge.” He pointed. 

“You helped…” She had wanted to question his help, believing the body contact could expose them to contracting the virus. 

She watched him walked away. She wanted to scream “God really does exist!” But her lips were motionless.

Once again she heard something whispered into her hearing saying, If thou faint in the days of adversity, your strength is small.


Ogunremi Temitope, is a 2nd year student of English and Literary Studies, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna Nigeria.
He is a photographer and video editor.

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