He told the story of the lost prince and now there was indication that the lost prince was with them that very night and in the presence of the first king, the rights of the lost prince are to be restored to him. He poured some powder into the burning fire and from that fire, the old man appeared.
The blood in Babatunde’s veins was now running high and he had difficulty controlling his awe and excitement. So the old man is the first king. I should have thought of it. He is still wearing those darn beaded slippers. The old man, or rather first king, stepped out and there was such a thunderous salute from all that one could be forgiven for thinking that all the dead had risen to bid him homage. He raised his hands. “I have a story to tell you, but I will first give grace to the first Creator that created man and the also to the first created One. When we overcame the wolf-men, close to the smoking islet, it was to find our own kingdom and be masters of our own destiny. The first Created gave us the divining beads and said we would never get lost nor be vanquished by the wolf-men if we listened to the divining beads of Ifa. You all carry within you the story so I will not bore you.
Through perfidy, jealousy, lust and silliness, we lost a prince. I made a vow not to create a seat for me with the ancestors because I am the first ancestor and a prince was lost. I pleaded that I may be permitted to search for the lost prince until he returns to his rightful inheritance since I am responsible for bringing about what happened. “Ifa told me of his journeys. That night the lion kept him warm with his body until Numen came and took care of him. She handed him over to a farmer and his wife with instructions never to ask how the boy came about. However the boy had a habit of following the lion everywhere and the lion allowed it. It learned to imitate the sounds of the lion and knew no fear. Numen explained to the farmer’s wife that he would always be identified by his ability to roar like a lion or growl like one. He was almost twelve, time to enter the grove and pick his spear in the initiation rites, Numen brought him to me and allowed me to know him. He was told nothing of his real nature. He learnt herbs and became a very good farmer. Suddenly the farmer went to the next village and was captured by some strange men. I could not trace him again. I was inconsolable but had to take heart knowing that line was still there. “Then came the drama of the wives and since I was not sure of how many wives were lying in wait I asked Numen to help me. She explained that the prince would not be king in my lifetime. When I asked why she said he was to come when the village needed him to stand in protection. She assured me she would be around then too, so I might be given permission to close the cycle in whatever form Olodumare might decide.”
Babamogba poured more of the powdery substance into the flames and very briefly the flames illumined the old man’s face. He looked very tired except for his eyes, which glowed.
“I am not physically here, but in my wanderings, I have permission to this recognition, and I do not have much time. I gave the lost prince the symbol of kingship. Let the one who has it now stand up and present it so all may know and greet him.”
There was dead silence as everyone looked round wondering who that could be. The old man growled deeply and Babatunde stood up slowly to his full height as he roared in response.
Babatunde was having his morning bath when he heard the knocking on the door,he wrapped his towel round his midriff and headed for the front door. He looked through the peephole and saw Tope who looked impatient.
He opened the door and surveyed his brother frowning heavily, “So they have installed the king and the town burned down?”
Tope was serious, “You have to get out of the house now”
Babatunde raised his eyebrows and stared at his brother, “Have you been drinking or lost your WAY TO YOUR front door?”
Tope pushed him out of the way and made for Babatunde’s bedroom and fished out old clothes urged his brother to put them on, the urgency in his voice communicated itself to Babatunde and he half dragged Babatunde to a closet. He motioned Babatunde to stay quiet . He was just in time as suddenly the front door crashed open and they heard footsteps. Someone moved past the door and tried opening his bedroom then he they heard the bathroom being opened and quietly closed. The steps went away to the front door and a satisfied voice was telling someone to give it ten minutes then enter and pretend to raise the alarm.
Babatunde was angry and kept his expression rigid. He dropped on his knees and gave a full- throated roar that sent Tope and everyone else scampering for the front door. Babatunde went straight to his bathroom and saw the large snake that had been dropped there. He closed the bathroom door and fetched a plant which he simply dropped in the bathroom. The snake thrashed trying to avoid the smell of the plant and Babatunde waited grimly by the door. Tope gingerly walked up and stared in awed horror at his brother, swallowing several times. Babatunde did not give him a look but just stared at the door, gradually the door opened and the snake crawled out and died in front of Babatunde while Tope jumped almost his height into the air when he saw the snake emerge.
There was silence and respect in the eyes of Tope as he gave his brother the one fist salute.
“Maybe I should not have bothered”
Babatunde put a hand on the shoulder of Tope and his voice had returned to normal as he thanked Tope for coming to warn him. He offered to take Tope back to the garage after breakfast. He called his office and said he would be late coming in.
There was silence as Babatunde went back into his bedroom to change and he quickly made cornmeal for his brother and asked him to share what he learned and why he had come to town to warn him.
Tope said he had gone to his usual relaxation spot and was nursing a calabash of palmwine when he picked some back chat and learned that Babatunde was going to have some kind of misfortune. He had carefully kept his back turned so they wouldn’t notice his presence. He also had to wait for the men to finish their drinks and head for home before he could wait.
“In fact Abeni wondered what I was up to when I asked for another calabash and did not join in the general joke. I lied that I was waiting for Akiin about the new cocoa prizes. I explained to Papa and we both agreed that I had to leave at first dawn to get here. If I knew the fireworks you were going to pull, I should have told Papa not to worry”
“But I needed and appreciate the warning and I still thank you. The snake I can deal with, but the human snakes? I have only contempt for them”
“I think it was the Alasiri boys, it was the senior one that was at Apata Gangan boasting that they can prove that the oracle is a liar.”
Boye Alasiri was given a motorbike by Prince Adewunmi some months back right? Babatunde asked his brother
Tope smiled and nodded, “Looks like you have sized them up pretty well”
Babatunde grinned, “Some losers can be mean and I knew what was coming just hadn’t thought of snakes”
Tope stood up and then scowled at Babatunde, “Never thought of snakes too brother or I could have used one when you and the queen did a mean one and called home at the particular time when I was at the farm harvesting cocoa”
Babatunde shook his head,”Thought you said you were afraid of her type”
Tope have him an innocent look, “Looks like you can cope and I am better you know”
“Better at what?” Babatunde asked slowly.
They went back to the brotherly teasing as Babatunde took his brother to the car park and saw him off .
He returned to the hospital and his office to find Ngozi had been asking to see him. He was puzzled wondering what she wanted so he called her on the office internal phone and explained he was back in the office.