Pilgrim

*a person who journeys to a holy place for religious reasons

IF there is anything that I find fascinating in this world next to writing is the insistence of religion, in any form upon our attention. Bluntly speaking, like writing, religion can manipulate thoughts of those who give it their attention. Religion like writing can be responsible to build within those committed to it ideals that are positive with the underlying motive of developing the broader aspect of the society within which it is rooted. Inversely it can be destructive to the minds of its devotees if its message is destructive and meant to hurt. All religions that I have come into contact with, never mind the platform of life’s inevitabilities unto which they were conveyed to me, preach peace and love (and cunningly covertly, when the adherent goes deeper, – they also teach prosperity; which is a conundrum, for me, when it is tied with money). Flawed are religions when they drunkenly proclaim to be more supreme, holy and gallant than ‘other’ religions that exist alongside them. But why do we need religion? I suppose because deep within our self there is this undeniable yearn to belong somewhere besides our family structures, added to this there are certain aspects of our lives that remain uncontrollable and unexplainable and we find solace in ‘religion’; for religion allay fears about the unexplained. Even one who has experienced apostasy can come to appreciate the power of religion as a hearth that rally the distraught towards a communal affinity of some sort. Religion is a sideshow if it does not epitomize the aspirations of a people its wants to attract, if it suffers this anomaly it remains outside of their experience of reality. Unfortunately we live at a time whereby religion has been commoditized.

*

Scene

It is in the middle of winter. A man, bare footed, dressed in rags; torn shorts, pierced through white-browned-aged t-shirt; a grease and urine stained tonkana blanket that has seen many a seasons’ evenings thrown over his scrawny frame to leave piercing orbs glowing at the passing world. Skin darkened beyond the brown colour black people consider black to an ashen tone. Hair unkempt for several years over as a hand rises in benediction as he speaks about the present and the effects of the world fornications on tomorrow days, the left pressing a thick book to the chest.       Sun rays floods awhile the corner of Palace Street and Church Square at midday and the smell of the preacher is undeniable to those passing through or loitering around this busy part of the heart of town. The people are intolerant of his presence. But to the others, one suspects that the words shooting from his lips twists something within as steps falter here and there. But because this regular figure inhabits the same corner from morning to a better part of midday to return at tshaile time, those accustomed to his presence have concluded that he is possessed despite the fact that he seems to be preaching about being good. Through him ware fare between good and evil is waged. Sweat pierces his ashen facial features and trickles in salty tributaries, sticklike, his form vibrates in a trance.

We may blame the people who put their last red cent on a quest to go on a pilgrimage to experience enlightenment or whatever the last rung it is that their religious consciousness promises them to reach if they perform the required spiritual rites faithfully and with devotion. 

Alternative Scene Take    

It is in the middle of summer. A man, feet shoved into a pair of one of those shoes that allows one’s toes to perform cartwheels, well dressed in well pressed linen suite shriveled now and then by the slightest passing breeze that upsets his spicy scented cologne. He stands firmly, well chiseled frame unshakable by the crowed glowing at him as he pierces it with his questioning ceremonious stare. Hair in a close cropped pomade, glowing as light hits it. Trickling sweat is met by a dabbing creamy handkerchief, the other hand pressing a thick black book to the chest. Sun rays floods awhile the corner of Palace Street and Church Square at midday and the smell of the preacher is undeniable to those passing through or loitering around this busy part of the heart of town. The people are intolerant of his presence. But to the others, one suspects that the words shooting from his lips twists something within as steps falter here and there. But because this regular figure inhabits the same corner from morning to a better part of midday to return at tshaile time, those accustomed to his presence in this corner have concluded that he is possessed despite the fact that he seems to be preaching about being good. Through him ware fare between good and evil is waged. Sweat pierces his healthy facial features and trickles in salty tributaries, firmly; his entire form vibrates in a trance.

*

We may blame the people who put their last red cent on a quest to go on a pilgrimage to experience enlightenment or whatever the last rung it is that their religious consciousness promises them to reach if they perform the required spiritual rites faithfully and with devotion. But the fact of the matter is that as by standers we do not share the same realm with them. We do not believe as they believe. It is the rallying sources of such pilgrimages that must be humbled to realize that people sacrifices a lot in order to gain the promised salvation, I am taking about quarkers, pastors and preachers alike; those who have become the centre point of religious movements should be careful not to think of themselves as gods on earth. And those who follow them should return to the basic and see religion for what it truly is. Opinion will differ here. But I think the reader will agree with this writer’s stance than religious devotion should not be a descended into servitude where the devotee forget that their souls have unique destinies which they are mostly responsible for.

 

*the present writing is dedicated to the people who lost their lives at the Synagogue Church of All Nations, Lagos, Nigeria on 12 September 2014. May the day that their families would find closure dawn, soon.

 

Spring

28 September

© mmutle arthur kgokong 2014

mmutleak@gmail.com

Advertisements