Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Choir Blues (1)

You might want to read this first: SMALL PIKIN

Mrs Effiong last sang in the choir in Secondary School. When she moved with her parents and siblings to Lagos in 1989, she was quickly enrolled into Form 2 and when the school choir needed a replacement for the Carol Service, she was called on to try.
She had done well at the time. Her singing voice had proven to have the texture and pitch absent in her speaking voice. So when her husband, Udoh Effiong suggested to her that she pick a department in the church where she might serve the Lord, she replied, with a cheerful certainty- Choir.
They were sitting in the parlour after they returned from church. Nsese was on the floor, playing with her rag doll. The windows were open, the curtains pulled to the side; there was no power.
Mrs Effiong threw down her head tie revealing her hair net under which her bob was wrapped.
“I enjoyed the preaching today, she said. I bought the tape for you. They were doing buy- one- get one- free, so I bought you today’s and last week’s. Very cheap, just 100 naira, she said.
“But I gave you 200 naira apart from Nse’s offering, why didn’t you buy all four for the past month? he asked.
“How many can you listen to at a time, next week I’ll buy jo, no use tying down money”.
Udoh didn’t bother replying. He could never win. So he changed the subject and landed on the issue  of what department to join.
Since Nsese’s birth a year and a half ago and throughout the ten months of the pregnancy, Mrs Effiong had been in what Udoh and his Presbyterian leaders would call  ‘visitor in God’s house’ mode.
The Pastor had once preached a message: They that dwell and they that visit. The punch line of the sermon to which several of the congregants all chorused ‘Preach it’ was that people who dwell in homes have the responsibility to clean and take care of it but visitors were exempt as they were going to leave soon after they came.
So, it was understood that the message was an allegory castigating those who didn’t do anything to help in the church but were obviously not visitors. Mrs Effiong was one of them, so while her husband taught the Sunday School children, she became wracked with guilt and dredged out of her memory her choir singing days in Greater Heights Secondary.
“So you will attend the rehearsals on Tuesday, Mr Effiong said.
"Yes", she replied dragging Nsese to the bedroom to change her soiled diapers.
Presbyterian Church was located on the intersection between  Salvation Army street and Macaulay way on the Mainland Bypass. As Mrs Effiong alighted from the bus and crossed the street, she couldn’t help admiring the tall glass building stained with gold and bright green hues. She thought it was beautiful even though slightly outrageous but the church had loved the final creation after what seemed like years and years of sowing and sacrificing.
She met Ijeoma outside alighting from the bike that had brought her. Ijeoma was an extremely light skinned lady who sang lead especially in songs that required a knowledge of Igbo and when she saw Mrs Effiong, she cut her speech to the quick. ‘Are you mad?’ and other such questions were on her lips to ask of the bike man who had just splashed brown, muddy water on her skirt. But as a lead singer, she figured it would be bad example to a young worker.
Mrs Effiong smiled. A look of understanding passed between them. These guys can really be mad, her eyes seemed to be reassuring.
They greeted and walked in together. A man was at the piano at the far side of the hall and a group of men and women were seated along rows of chairs at the front. Mrs Effiong could see a woman slapping at her weave so hard, her head bobbed from side to side.
Although she was already known by most people  because of her husband, she still needed to stand up and say her name and what part she intended to sing. After the introductions came voice training. The choir master who introduced himself as Mr Ben said that she needed to justify her claim by singing the alto part to a popular chorus.
It was to be call and response. When Mrs Effiong sang it exactly how he had sang it; straight melody and without the barest hint of a harmony,  someone at the back sniggered. Mrs Effiong raised her eyebrows. You must not know ‘bout me!

We'll continue tomorrow. Did you enjoy how this started? Tell me in your comments.
Bless! :)


  1. Kai! You are a prolific writer...I attended Presbyterian till I entered Uni so its so real to ‎​​me :)

  2. Akan:

    Where have you been all my life?! LOL! Sooo realistic...you must be pretty observant too! Keep doing your thing o!

    My favorite part: Her singing voice had proven to have the texture and pitch absent in her speaking voice.

    I can almost picture it...

  3. It's a good start to the story. The detailing is great. Well done.


  4. @ennybees-hub... Thanks a whole lot. You attended Presby?.. really ? Th only thing I know about the church is its buiding and since this is fiction I messed with the original locations but retained what I remember of it... I'm so glad that felt real. Cheers and please keep reading.

  5. @The Relentless.... Where have you been too? I hope you are following this blog so that you get more of such feisrty writing *wide grin*

    Yes, I really I'm trying to be much more observant . A writer needs that above all else. Thanks for reading. You are the reason I write.

  6. @Kiru... Thanks my darling. I've just visited your blog. Great stuff. I didn't know you started one on blogspot. I'm glad you like the detailing. Cheers.

  7. akan is at it again o!!!
    nice one: i could picture the whole scenes and i identified with Mrs. Effiong being a choir member also
    eagerly awaiting the sequel....
    thumbs uo, sis!!!

    LOL @ "slapping her weave so hard, guilty of that at times....


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