Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Glory be to God, Circa Early 2000s




Glory Be to God.

Everyone is up and getting ready for church.
The little children walk along the dirt road singing about the kingdom of God.
A couple of them were about to catch a ride on their dad’s okada.
Four children, mom, and dad. The perfect mbaise family they would say.
Grandmas and grandpas still very active and strong
Riding their 1954 bicycles to mass
He had a handkerchief in his back pocket
She had a handkerchief on top of her head
Silly returnees , taking their huge luxurious SUV three minutes across the bumpy road
Because we were still adjusting to the time difference
And how could we ever dirty our brand new shoes we brought just for this trip
I couldn’t imagine bringing all of that outside dust inside the home we spent the first week cleaning
Since nobody lives here when we are gone and we are usually gone for eleven out of the twelve months
We park our car in no particular order
Nigerians, we make do. We make room and we adjust.
Even though we woke up early, we still ended up late
I was happy because igbo mass in Nigeria is 10 times longer than igbo church in los Angeles
The later we show up, the less time we have to spend staring in thin air since I haven’t yet perfected my igbo after thirteen years
I am trying though.
I keep telling my cousins to speak only igbo to me so I can learn during the month I am here
Finally the gospel is done and the usher is letting in all of the late-comers inside the church
Holding my mommy’s hand , I begin to walk inside the church until
SUDDENLY
Suddenly . word to d’banj
The usher grabs the living hell out of me
You would think I was possessed the way he yanked my arm and shook me

“WHERE IS YOUR HAIR COVERING? YOU ARE A GIRL! YOU CANNOT ENTER THE CHURCH WITHOUT COVERING YOUR HAIR! “

My mother tries to pull me back and at one point I feel like a rope in a tug-o-war

I had been to this church before but this year everyone was stuck on yet another bible verse.

First Corinthians Chapter 11, Verse 6
"For if a woman does not cover her head, she might as well have her hair cut off; but if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should cover her head."

But a man who covers his head, dishonors his head since the man is the image and glory of God.

And so my whole trip I argued and argued and argued with my cousins.
The same chapter also said “For long hair is given to her as a covering.” But it didn't matter.

No matter how young a girl is, no matter how far away from home she is, no matter the language, no matter the people, no matter the culture

She will be silenced. She will be ridiculed. She will be restricted. She will be policed.

That day, my head covering was more important than receiving the gospel of the lord.
The day I stopped arguing about bible verses and began to liberate myself from guilt and shame; I became free.


Glory be to the gods .