And He Roared
Babatunde was having his morning bath when he heard a knocking on the door. He wrapped his towel around 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 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 to 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 giant snake that had been dropped there. He closed the bathroom door and fetched a plant, which he dumped in the toilet.
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. He 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 palm wine when he picked some backchat 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 appreciated 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.”
Prince Adewunmi gave Boye Alasiri a motorbike 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 gave 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’s internal phone and explained he was back in the office.