People were still trickling in when Mandi and Sindi got to church. Mandi hadn’t been in two decades. Now she felt increasingly uncomfortable in her purple two-piece outfit. It wasn’t her. But overshadowing her embarrassment was her shock at the way the congregation was dressed. It seemed that church had become a fashion show of sorts – a music video. If it were not the cars they were showing off, it was the clothing or handbags.

An eager Sindi felt differently. This was her second home. She explained, “You see the people there dressed in blue?” She pointed at a group standing apart from everyone else beside the church gate. “That’s the choir. They’ve won the regionals four years in a row.”

“I still think this is a bad idea. Look at me, Sindi!”

“You’re gorgeous, naturally. Plus there are cute guys inside. We’ll find you a boyfriend, OK?”

Mandi hadn’t told her that she’d been seeing Craig Sutherland’s bodyguard, and that they were expecting a little bundle of joy. They’d managed to keep it under wraps, though they’d already been dating for three months.

This is a nightmare, Mandi thought, straightening her blouse. The two sat down inside and sang along with the hymns – well, at least Sindi did – until the pastor entered the church. The congregation stood in silence to welcome him.

“Here’s Pastor Lungelo, Mandi.” Sindi’s face lit up. “He’s a true man of God – a saint.” Sindi spoke about him all the time.

He was a light-skinned man, short, with an unusual pair of tiny, light brown eyes.

Mandi glanced at him. “Oh, please, Sindi, he’s not that handsome. You said he looks like Idris Elba.”

“You’re jealous, my friend. He’s scorching hot. Look at those eyes.”

“Why would I be jealous?”

The congregation opened the formal service with a hymn. The pastor’s voice rose above the others.

Mandisa felt her skin crawl. She recognised him now, the pastor. His eyes, his voice.

“I’ll introduce you to him after the service. He calls me Sister Sindi. It’s so cute.”

Mandi couldn’t hear a word that Sindi spoke. She felt dizzy. The congregation sat down, but Mandi remained standing, as if she was to preach.

“Sit down,” Sindi whispered, pulling her friend by her dress.

Mandi stood, staring at Pastor Lungelo, then made her way quickly to the exit.
“Mandi come back. Mandi!” Sindi hissed, but her friend was already out of the church.

Outside, Mandisa vomited on the church lawn.


Tell us what you think: Why has Mandi had such a strong reaction to seeing the pastor?