Mide walked around quietly the whole day. He carried out his chores without as much as a word to anyone. The events of the day had his whole head heavy with thoughts. He didn’t know who to confide in. Olokpa Chapman’s arrival in town should give him some comfort but it really didn’t. Baba Soji was as powerful as powerful can be. He might not carry a gun but everyone knew he was diabolical. The thoughts kept playing in his head about what he saw that afternoon.
“I am going to the village square to announce that this path to the stream is unsafe, that way you won’t be rescued…” Reality snatched Mide back as he heard from a distance the frantic hitting of a metal gong. People came out from their huts and houses with puzzled faces. The baritone voice of Wale the town crier announced that everyone should be at the village square. Assembling at the square meant two things-good news or bad news. Everyone chatted their way to the square, walking in groups and wondering the reason for the urgent call while some saw it as an opportunity to catch up on daily gossip. “Mide we must make haste so we can get a bench.” Mama Mide shouted. Following his mother’s shout, he sprinkled water on the burning firewood and joined the troop.
Baba Soji sat somewhere amongst the chiefs watching as the expectant villagers take their seats one by one, two by two. A sad smile was plastered on his face as he remembered how these same villagers took their seats about ten years ago to listen to his fate and punishment for something he was innocent of. He could see tree where his mother sat with tears in her eyes pleading for him was still rooted at the corner of the square, blooming. When Wale was done addressing the people, Baba Soji stood.
Raising his voice he shouted. “The paths of the rocks are no longer a safe place to take to the stream. Mysterious things are taking place and as we all know, a child is missing. We must be very cautious. A word is enough for the wise.” And with that he took his seat. Silence swept its way into the square leaving a little trace of his rich voice behind. Baba Soji watched as fear replaced enthusiasm and mothers started gripping the hands of their little ones. That day he put doubt in their eyes but today he put fear. A smile found its way to his mouth.
Straining his eyes, Mide looked at Baba Soji with suspicion. Who was this man? Where did he come from? How did he make his wealth? What did he hope to accomplish in this village? And most especially, Why was he doing this to Tinuke? Questions swam in his head and he decided he was going to inform Olokpa Chapman about what he saw. He remembered his friend telling him that he was informed by his parents that Baba Soji had no history in this village but he looked like a certain Adekunle. Maybe that was the first step….who was Adekunle? He found his mother discussing with her friends about the latest development. He lingered around and she saw he was ready to go home. She bade them farewell and walked towards him. Mide knew it would be a long night.