I entered the room and saw Dozie dressed to go out.
‘Guy, where you dey go’?
Dozie smiled at me. ‘I sharp abi? No lie o’. He walked to the door and back to the mirror. The man was fine and he knew it.
‘You sharp tru tru. No b lie. But where you dey go na’?
He checked his cufflinks – for the hundredth time, I imagined – before turning to me. ‘I wan’ reach church’.
I smirked. ‘Wetin you loss wey you con say na today you wan fin’ am’?
‘I nor blame you na. Shey nor b becos you see me as you comot for bathroom? Mtcheewww’! He turned to the mirror again, this time to inspect his hair and beards.
I refused to be deterred. Dozie was not a church boy. ‘Nna, apu dat tin. Talk d tin wey dey carry you go church dis today so’.
‘I dey go church. Pesin invite me. Fine geh lai dis’.
I forgot about dressing up for a moment. ‘I talk am! Idiot! You even dey blush! Fool’!
He blushed even harder, much as he tried not to. ‘Guy limme abeg. No wear cloth make you dey go church. I dey go church today. I go use dat wan sef giv God small sontin take hol’ body till the next time wey we go see again’.
My eyes rolled from left to up, to the curtain to the tiled floor, looking for understanding. When I didn’t find it, I looked at Dozie. ‘Wetin you wan giv God make Him take hol’ body’?
‘Offering na. Wetin again?
I couldn’t tell if he was joking or not. I decided he wasn’t. ‘Tor, as you giv God, Him sef go giv you sontin take hol’ your body, soul and spirit. And you know say God hand big pass your own’.
He finally, finally left the mirror. ‘Make Him giv me, I go collect o. I don dey go. Carry your key o, make you nor con dey call me upandan if you fess me come back’.
‘I don hear. You fit buy food when you dey come o’. He didn’t reply. I was very sure he heard me.
Two point five hours later.
I returned before Dozie. Surprise surprise. My stomach played the intro to a long, loud song of complaint, harmonised by the dryness of my throat. Ugh! I knew I should have bought food on my way back. What will someone cook now? I scanned the kitchen. Rice, spaghetti, sweet and Irish potatoes, fresh pepper and tomatoes. Make I drink water fess, abeg, before I quench. I opened the fridge. Aha! Ogbono soup! Na eba get am abeg. Quick and powerful. I grabbed the container and one pure water.
While I was filling the kettle from the tap, I heard the front door open and close. I called out, ‘Dozie, you go chop eba’? I mean, who else could it be? Spongebob?
I didn’t get any response, so after putting the kettle on fire, I went to the parlour. Dozie was sprawled on the couch like a huge, deflated balloon. ‘Guy, wetin apun? Dem force you sweep church after the service wey you spread lai dis? Abi d fine geh get boyfriend’?
He didn’t say anything, just sat there with eyes closed.
Without opening his eyes, he spoke, the usual rapid speed of his speech reduced by what seemed like exhaustion. ‘After the offering and choir ministration, the pastor came up and asked the keyboardist to play. While the keyboardist played, the pastor asked everyone to be quiet, that God had things to say to some people. Toochi, I haven’t heard God in a long time, but when I heard Him, I knew He was the one. He said, “Dozie, are you angry at Me”?
‘What do you say when God asks you something like that? How do you respond? I was struggling to even breathe properly after He asked. It was like… like all my pores were expelling my air faster than I could breathe in’.
He stopped and stared straight ahead. I asked, ‘What did you say to Him’?
His answer was a whisper. ‘I said yes. Yes, I was angry at Him and He knew exactly why’.
I sighed. Then I left the wall on which I had been leaning, sat beside him on the couch, looked for his hand and held it.
‘He said yes, He knew I was angry at Him and yes, He knew why. He had asked because He wanted me to admit it to myself.
‘Then He hugged me. Toochi, God hugged me’. His voice broke. His grip on my hand tightened. He didn’t speak for a while. ‘His arm went round my waist, His other hand held the back of my head. He didn’t say anything, but it felt like – he dragged in a mucus-filled breath – it felt like many waters were flooding me gently where I stood, without moving me. I couldn’t hold on to the anger, Toochi. And the pain. The regret. God said He could handle it so I wrapped it all in tears and threw it at Him.
‘I’m not sure how long the flooding lasted, but I could barely stand when He was done. My knees. My body. My heart. It was too much’.
Silence stretched between us, slipped in and out of the gaps in our breathing. I rubbed the back of his hand with my thumb before asking, ‘Are you still mad at Him’?
His smile was a small one, mostly on one side of his mouth. ‘No. Not anymore. He told the pastor to explain a few things to me during the short sermon. Let’s just say I kinda understand better now’.
He glanced at me then. ‘You know, on my way home, I wondered if you had a hand in it. But I-‘
‘What! Me? How’!?
He laughed and let go of my hand. ‘Calm down. I just remembered you said God would give me something to hold my spirit, soul and body, and that God has a bigger hand’.
‘Aaaahhhh! And you said if He gave you, you would collect’! I shook with laughter.
‘Yeah. Sense of humour much’?
‘Much o. But – I cleared my throat – I’m really glad to hear this. Does this mean the church now has a new member’? I struggled but didn’t entirely succeed in keeping the smile from my voice.
‘Hey, slow down, bro. I’m back on talking terms with God, yes, but I’m still not sure about church’, Dozie replied as he removed his shoes and socks.
I got off the couch and headed for the kitchen. ‘Okay, fine, but are you sure about eba so I can make your mouth’?
‘Mtcheeww. Nor make my mouth na. Then when you chop the eba finish, I go con chop you’.