Book one: Chapter one
A clarification, Zuri is dark skinned🙃 but what we call a little fair in my country🙂 like the lady on the cover.
I bent down sliding my feet into my ugg moccasin, darting my eyes anxiously around to spot my bag. A call came through, it's Asal, "I'm so sorry I'll be there soon....yes I promise."
I'm late as hell for the church programme in which I'll be singing a solo. I'm not nervous, it's been something I've been doing for years and I greatly enjoy doing that not for the payment but the joy of singing gospel songs to other brethren. It brings extreme happiness into my heart ministering and seeing people meditate on the words of the song and exalt our Maker.
I rushed out of my bedroom which I share with my little sister into the living room. Mother and Wendy sat on our almost worn out couch. Mother was reading her Bible while Wendy crouched behind the center table doing her homework. "I'll see you guys tonight, I love you."
"May God be with you my dear." Mother kissed my cheeks and smiled at me, "I know you'll do great as always. I ruffled Wendy's hair in haste and made quickly for the door.
I'm lucky my church is a twenty minutes walk from my neighborhood and I wouldn't need to take a cab and spend money, I can add to my savings for my mother and Wendy's up keep.
My neighborhood isn't the most ideal place to grow up. It's below decent with outdated buildings dispersed over the large land. Secondhand stores line the streets and every now and then, angry cab drivers shout at those who have made stalls on their tables which have taken a greater part up to the road where cars ought to pass.
I shake my head and a lump forms in my throat. I breath in and out. I can't risk crying and messing my solo up. In times like this I look on the brighter side to life. I'm working in a multi million dollar automobile company as a secretary to the boss unlike most girls in this neighborhood who either work as waiters or strippers and I have quite an amount in my savings. I'm hoping for a raise soon so I can move my family out of this neighborhood to a more decent one with a better school for Wendy and a cozy feeling for my mum who broods over the loss of my father.
Ah that man, things were a lot easier and life was a lot comfortable than how it is now when he was around. He worked as a director for a consultancy firm for years before his retirement. The one who took over his office embezzled funds in my father's name and he was blamed for it when the firm found out. They striped us of all the moderate wealth dad acquired while working honestly, leaving us with nothing, not even a cent.
The pain and sorrow from our predicament killed him, leaving us alone with our mother who was also a retired local school teacher. Our poor financial situation left her with a mild stroke from time to time, rendering her incapable of working to fend for us. Thus, the responsibility of catering for our family fell upon me, being the eldest child and daughter of the family.
I had to enroll in a secretarial school to get a certificate that enabled me get the job I have. My dream of being a lawyer is on hold now, I'm working to save money for that. It's going to take years but I'm ready to wait, my passion for it can't wane within those years.
I arrived at the church at 8:35pm and God being so good, it was my turn to perform. I think because I was late my name was slotted for the last performer of the night.
I can't be more glad. Mr Michael the regular host for most of our church programmes announces to the congregation I'm the next but last performer for the night.
"Go Zuri and bless the congregation with your ministration!" My best friend Asal who's an Islamic convert shooed me away with a huge smile on her face, blowing kisses at me. The others around laughed at her actions. They were equally excited for my ministration.
I went up stage and to be frank I got a little nervous. The congregation has doubled in size than our previous programmes. I breathed in and out, saying a silent prayer for God above to take over and use me as a vessel like he always does. "Good evening ladies and gentlemen, I'm honored to stand here to minister the gospel to you through a song, I'll urge you to meditate on the words that are coming, for God to bless your life, Amen."
There was a high chorus of amen from the crowd. That warmed me up and closing my eyes, I began. "I was just a child, when I felt the Savior leading
I was drawn to what I could not understand
And for the cause of Christ, I have spent my days believing
That what He'd have me be, who I am
As I've come to see the weaker side of me
I realize His grace is what I'll need
When sin demanded justice for my soul
Mercy said no
I'm not going to let you go
I'm not going to let you slip away
You don't have to be afraid
Mercy said no
Sin will never take control
Life and death stood face to face
Darkness tried to steal my heart away
Thank You Jesus, Mercy said.”
I opened my eyes, looking at the crowd, still singing. Most of them were in tears, the words were so powerful and the congregation was deeply moved. A loud cheer and round of applause erupted from the congregation as I sang the last line of the song and bowed gracefully. "I thank God for blessing us tonight."
Going backstage, Asal run to me, engulfing me in a bone crushing hug. Sometimes she forgets she's twice the size of me and though we're both mixed race, my skin was a darker shade than mine and she was more curvaceous than I am. We all got a thick body, that we're preserving for our future husbands rather than wasting it away in our youth.
"Azzy, my ribs, let go off me you big teddy bear!" I wiggled out of her tight embrace, slapping her hand, "what have I told you about your hugs?”
Asal scratched her neck, grinning shyly and kept quiet. Of course Azzy isn't going to remember, even if she does, she won't say it. Her hugs always got me gasping for air and my ribs hurt not that bad but much for me to feel a slight pain. "I forgive you but today's your last." Who I'm I kidding I'll be telling her again very soon. Azzy..
"Let's go get some coffee." She proposed, taking my arm and waiting for answer. Coffee won't be bad right now and I'm craving for it too but the programme is not over. I can't go else I'll get skinned alive by Lady Kiki, my godmother.
She's the widowed sister of the head pastor, who helped my family and I when we first moved here and helped us settle in. Taking me under her care when I was only twelve years old.
I adore her and fear her altogether. She's not scary though. Lady Kiki is the most caring and affable person I've ever met but when you mess with her, you're ruined. She's going to lecture and lecture you and when she's done scoop you in her arms and spank your hand. Yes that's how she is. "The programme is not over yet, you don't wanna get on Lady Kiki's bad side do you?"
Color drained from her face. She's remembering her latest punishment from getting on her bad side. Azzy had to scrub the whole church and clean everywhere afterwards and do you know her crime? She forgot to turn off the tap in the ladies washroom on Sunday and on Monday, there was news of the ladies washroom flooded and after Lady Kiki cross examined people, Azzy confessed to it saying it was a mistake.
She didn't get away with it. Actually no one gets away with a crime with Lady Kiki around. Though she's strict, we all love and adore her, looking up to her as a motherly figure in our troubled times. "It will be over in 5,4,3,2 and 1!" Azzy did the countdown, looking down at her wristwatch, "we can go get that creamy coffee with no hindrance."
"Crazy azzy!" I dragged her out of the pew we sat on and straddled my side bag properly on my shoulder. We strolled hand in hand to our favorite diner and chose our usual table in the corner overlooking the car park.
The diner gives off a cozy feeling and a serene atmosphere. Though it's not quite expensive, it's the golden shop in this part of our poverty ridden neighborhood, serving delicious pastries and tasty coffees that I'm yet to taste somewhere else.
Douglas, our all time waiter waltz towards us, grinning from ear to ear. I know why, shifting my eyes to Azzy, I found her cheeks a bright shade of red. I smell love in the air. These two are one confused pair I've ever met in my life, they're so crazy about each other one day and the next they're can't stand each other.
"The usual?" He asked us, taking out his notepad and gazing at Azzy with a look I can't identify.
"Yes and no, I want mocha as usual but I'll pair it with a lemon ginger blueberry muffin." I've been seeing it on their menu but never ordered, today I want to have a feel of how it's like and maybe order it from time to time if I should get bored of my usual donut with vanilla glaze.
"That's a first." Azzy stared at me with bulging eyes. It's been years I met Azzy and anytime we come here, it's always donut I order so I get why she's like this. She tried convincing me so many times to try other stuffs like her favorite chocolate dipped sesame cookies. I never gave in.
"Yeah, I know right. I change anytime I want, you can refer to me as a chameleon yeah." I twirled a strand of my stubborn straightened hair that still looks afro around my finger and winked at her.
"Okay miss chameleon and to you, I want my usual some of us have to stay human." She chuckled at her words so did Dou. No wonder you two are a pair.
"I'll be back shortly ladies."
"Okay." We said in unison and sat taking about random topics. The neighborhood now, our current jobs, cooking shows and where we see ourselves in years to come.
First chapter🤸🏽♀️❤️, how do you find it?
Pardon me for any errors😕
••please don't forget to vote, comment and recommend❤️••