When Ife woke up, she felt strange and longed to talk to her father in the flesh. It was wrong she knew to have such longing as that meant she was holding him back.
For the first time, Ife broke down in tears in the strange bedroom. She wept for almost an hour, talking to her father about her pain. She did not want to identify the pain as her loss of Babatunde. She felt so alone. A tiny voice asked her if she really had lost Babatunde and she sat up with a jerk.
Ife was shocked, “I beg your pardon
“Okay, I know the drill with ladies like you, my name is Deji, you don’t need my surname as that would start you off.”
“Start me off where?”
Deji fell into step with her and sat on the next rock facing her. He gave her a long look and suddenly announced in accusing tones, “Lord help me, you have been crying over him I suppose?”
“It wouldn’t be over you, thank goodness,” Ife retorted.
Deji put his head back and laughed very heartily making Ife wonder if she was talking to a mad person.
Deji chuckled as if he had picked her thoughts, “That would suit you just right if I am mad eh?”
“How long since you escaped from your minders?” Ife asked him stealing furtive looks around him.
Deji stood up suddenly, “let’s go find out, and since you are a doctor, you could certify me as sane right? But before we do that how about breakfast, it is not every day a crime reporter meets with an interesting case” Deji hurried away but she was surprised to find him within a second still staring at her.
Ife felt goose pimple crawl all over her, and she stood up staring into deep blue eyes. Then she whispered, “Sasa?”
Deji’s form dissolved into Sasa, who now bowed very low, but he had a soft grin in his eyes. He pointed in the general direction of her vizier explaining he was given the task of watching over her
Ife smiled sadly, “You make a lousy actor Sasa; your eyes gave you away that’s why I felt you were strange”
Sasa laughed and sat back gingerly opposite Ife. There was silence for a while as Ife looked at the ocean again and sighed.
Sasa spoke softly after a while not looking at Ife but at the ocean too. “ Actually, there is a real Deji, just borrowed his form as he hurried off” Then he gave her an imploring look as he continued.”He is hurting Princess badly, the lion is losing his pelt, looks scrawny these days, and the suspension is not helping him either. They found fifteen million in his account and he wants to know how it got to his account, the pharmaceutical society has been given a report that he has abused his profession and he is under investigation, something to do with a herbal preparation he did for…”
Ife cut in.. “When is his next court appearance”
Sasa sighed, “It is not just a court appearance, he is in police custody and can’t even reach his lawyer.”
Ife stood up staring in shock.. “Great Lights, Ndana has passed?”
Sasa nodded sadly, “a motorbike ran him down as he tried to cross the street and it is believed he bled to death as he was taken away by some samaritans, I understand he was the one the lion was trying to help”
“I have been gone only a week”
“A lifetime for some”
Ife started walking quickly towards the hotel, but Sasa stayed her with a sharp word as she saw Deji in the distance walking towards her carrying sandwiches obviously. Ife turned sharply away, and Deji was shocked to find a fairly old woman munching the local bean cakes when he got close. Deji looked at her in real bewilderment, and the old lady asked him if he was looking for the lady. Deji nodded a yes and she pointed in the direction opposite to where Ife and Sasa were standing. As soon as Deji’s back was turned, Ife and Sasa hurried off to a waiting taxi that Sasa had gotten ready.
Sasa assumed the form of Prince Adewunmi in a dark suit.
Ife didn’t have time to wonder; the taxi drove them back to town. Ife arrived at the hospital very late but insisted on going to the Police station. She found Ngozi sitting listlessly at the counter. Ngozi sprang into life as soon as she saw Ife. It was not the time for jealousy.
The police sergeant gave Ife a curious look and asked if she was the second wife of the accused.
Ngozi murmured that she had had to say she was his wife before the police would allow her to see him. But that when his wife had been announced to him in the cell he had shrugged and ignored the police saying firmly that he did not remember marrying a wife and that was another offense they were adding to his other crimes.
Ife could not smile but simply asked the police to fetch Babatunde and mention that Numen demands his presence.
There was silence as the corporal debated such a name but he turned at the sudden banging on the cell door as everybody became petrified by the sound of a roar, followed by a longer painful roar, the door snapped open and Babatunde came out. Ngozi fainted, but Babatunde stood still and silent in front of Ife.
Nothing was said, as they stared at each other. Then Ife gently touched his arm and held his head in her cupped hands. She sobbed his name, slowly so slowly he opened his arms and embraced Ife.
The policemen who rushed in at the sound of the roar watched in complete awe. Babatunde lifted his head as Ife left his arms and told him she would be back in the morning.
None of the police was willing to come near him or lead him back to the cell. Babatunde spent the rest of the night sitting on a hard bench. He did not say a word to anyone.