The main church was hot and stuffy, she missed the children’s church. Here everyone had a serious face, and when they raised their arms the stench was overwhelming.

 As the pastor continued shouting for “DOLLAZ,” people seemed to get more interested. Soon people were walking to the altar, shaking their heads and marching, they would lay some money and go back.

 Her mother knelt down and started crying. The pastor kept shouting “DOLLAZ, DOLLAZ, AAAMMEEN,” her father was facing the wall and wiping his sweat. Everyone was speaking a language she did not understand, “maybe this is a different dialect of Igbo” she mused.

As she was watching everyone, she saw Mama Aduka come forward. She was wearing a white lace shirt and gold lappa — probably from her constant trips to Lagos. She also had a gold lappa on her head, her lappa looked like she had poured too much starch on it.

 That must be the hottest fashion, to wear stiff lappas on the head and wear colours that matched. In her hand she had a white fan, made with feathers, almost like she was carrying a turkey around.

As Mama Aduka came forward, she started wobbling. Mama Aduka was not a petite woman, she was not one of those skinny women who did not have food to eat, or who took beatings from their husbands.

Mama Aduka was well fed, you could see it all over her, having 5 children back to back had also helped her achieve this figure. Fullness was a sign of wealth, and Mama Aduka was wealthy, how else did she manage those weekly trips to Lagos, and how did she send her sons to the abroad?

Mama Aduka was a church favorite, so whenever she came forward all the church workers were on alert. She was wobbling some more, the pastor kept shouting DOLLAZ.

Everyone pretended to pray but they were all watching as Mama Aduka got to altar, she knelt down to put her offering and next thing she flew.

In the blink of an eye she was a couple feet away from the altar, she started screaming and rolling. The pastor also started screaming DOLLAZ and YES LOD YES LOD SEEEE YA DOTAAAA.

Mama Aduka rolled and shook and yelled, as she rolled her gold gele and lappa started unfolding. Soon women came to the front to cover her, meanwhile the ushers had been running around with her trying to hold her down.

 Her gele fell off and you could see her hair, unbraided and spiking up. Her lappa was long so as she rolled from one side to another it never went off.

Mama Aduka stopped rolling, and the ushers tried to help her stand, but she was a large woman so they just staggered to a group of chairs. 

Mama Aduka fell and broke two of the chairs, they got her a new chair and she lowered herself and dismissed the men. 

She just sat there for a while, and the main singer just hovered with an anxious look on her face and the unraveled gele and fan in her hand.

The church has calmed down, and everyone had gone back to their previous prayer mode but Ngozi couldn’t stop looking at Mama Aduka.

She whispered to herself “I want to wear a gele like her and have the whole church look after me.”

“DOLLAZ, DOLLAZ, WE’RE SEEING DOLLAZ,” the pastor shouted some more, interrupting her thoughts. “GOD GIVE US DOLLAZ, DOLLAAAAAAZZZZZZ.”

Ngozi stopped looking at Mama Aduka and watched the man in with awe. He looked out of it, he had spit flying everywhere, foam at the side of his mouth.His eyes looked larger than the sun, and she was sure they’d pop any moment now.

He was dripping, as though he had just come in from a rainstorm. From time to time he’d take out his red and white checkered cloth and wipe his sweat. 

When he raised his hand you could see that he had sweat stains showing through his ill fitting suit. “Why is he wearing a suit in the middle of this heat” Ngozi thought to herself. She wanted to laugh at him but she saw her mother’s side eye.

At 10, this was her first service in the big church. It was also one of the most interesting days of her life. Her mother and father had warned her to behave before they left the house. Her father’s last words weighed on her “If you like, when we go to church, embarrass me shey its me and you in this house.” The threat was enough to instill the fear of God in her. Ngozi swallowed her laughter and curiosity.

She did not want to embarrass her mother, so she pinched herself hard and started crying, “DOLLAZ DOLLAZ, GIVE ME DOLLAZ LORD.” Ngozi had no idea what “DOLLAZ” were, but her show made her mother and father smile.

Maybe one day she would be like Mama Aduka and bring “DOLLAZ” and roll on the floor very well for every body to carry her.


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