By Ucheoma Onwutuebe
Then we would attend service in the village church. We always arrived late because mom would change her outfit fifty times and the gele would not just tie right. Dad would holler and prance, honk the horns and threaten to leave her behind. One year he almost did if mom hadn’t chased after us bare-footed,her heely shoes in hand.
We would drive down the winding, laterite path, surrounded by green bushes,characteristic of all places rural. In church we would meet the dancing procession. There would be young men dragging stubborn goats to the altar, some shouldering bags of rice,beans or garri. The women would cause a hold-up in the lines because they wriggled and lowered their waists, rocking tubers of yams in their arms as if they carried babies, for they had become possessed by the spirit of music that flowed from the drums and piano.
We would see grandma at the end of the line, coming along with her ilk: old men and women who dream dreams. Age jerked the motor functions of their bodies which made them dance slow and irregular.
When the music died, we would smile and return to our seats, sweating and fanning ourselves, and now the altar looked like a lively market place. The goats would be fearful being unused to so great a crowd of witnesses. The chickens manage better, only shrugging their clipped wings from time to time.
The choir would lead us in a hymn and if it weren’t for Thanksgiving, we would giggle at the choirmaster’s adam apple which seemed to have a mind of its own. But it is thanksgiving. When we sing: “All I have needed Thy hands have provided….”, I look at my new shoes and cry.