‘I know who it is….’ a masculine voice answered from behind them. A masculine voice that Mide heard this afternoon. A masculine voice deep down inside he was afraid of. What had he gotten himself into? He thought to himself as fear replaced pity. In horror he opened his eyes. What kind of dream was that? He thought. He held his chest as he shook his head hysterically trying to force the imaginations of being caught out of his head. He moved to the veranda of his house and noticed the night was still and the air had an unexpected bite of cold. The cold breeze of the midnight hit his face harshly yet sweat was dripping from his pores. The leaves stopped moving and the distant toots of the owls were silenced. Nothing was going to stop him from seeing her and with that he left the house. From behind tall trees he hid himself and he saw Tinuke still tied and her head was drooping. He ducked when he saw a tall silhouetted figure hover above her. Within the midst of grasses he watched. Baba Soji moved close to her and raised her head up with his right hand then removed the handkerchief tied around her mouth with his left. Straining his eyes, Mide saw Baba Soji smile. Why was he doing this?
‘Look at me’, he said in a whisper. She kept her eyes closed and didn’t move at all. It was obvious she was weak.
‘You don’t deserve this but your father does.’ he said again.
‘Why should the sins of my father be passed on to me?’ slowly she asked with her eyes still closed.
‘Because that’s how the world rotates. Even the Holy Book testifies to it.’
Hesitating she opened her eyes and Mide watched her eyes turn red and was filled with tears, turning her black orbs clear as glass. She opened her mouth to speak but all that came out was a sob, and tears streamed down her cheeks in rivulets like rain on a window pane. The sound broke Mide’s heart.
Heart pounding, she opened her mouth-to scream, to demand an explanation or to yell in anger, she wasn’t sure.
‘You are a madman.’ she finally spat at him.
She skillfully squeezed the water from the leaves and its green liquid dripped into the stainless bowl. She looked at the worry lines on the forehead of her lover and it hurt her he was disturbed at heart.
‘Ink is costly if not I would have told you about it.’ she said sincerely apologetic.
‘It’s okay, I understand’ he said, looking at her with a sad smile. She reached out to hold his chiselled shaved jaw. She knew he would be heartbroken when he hears about the death of Baba Mide.
‘Did more ladies disturb you when I was gone?’ Olokpa Chapman asked trying to change the topic and ease the tension in the air. She smiled when he snaked his arms around her small waist. She had missed him so much.
‘Why do you care? You should have taken me with you if you didn’t want them disturbing me,’ she said with a small laugh. She was trying to force his arms away from her waist but he didn’t bulge he just held on tighter.
‘My Dabeyon, share with me all about it.’ he smiled to himself. He knew she would open up after calling her that. He observed that every time he called her “My Dabeyon” her hard-to-get walls would break a little and she would soften.
‘Ummm, you remember Kiki, the daughter of Elder Ajala -he nodded- she came to the house to pour a bowl of rotten tomatoes on me. She called me forsaken and criticized me for falling in love with a white man. She said I had forsaken our culture-
‘Did you say “falling in love with me?’ he questioned, cutting her off mid-sentence and mimicking her voice.
‘Is that what you heard?’ she replied shyly, using her hands to cover her mouth. Olokpa Chapman opened his mouth to laugh at her but the sound of someone knocking on their door distracted him. He looked at Dabeyon and then at the door. After opening the door, he was surprised when he flapped the entrance curtain aside and saw Mide.
‘Young man, what brings you this early to my house?’
‘Morning Sir. I have something to share with you.’
‘Come on in boy.’
Mide scanned the room in less than a minute. He wasn’t surprised it was well furnished. There was a couch and a mat in the center of the room. At the left side of the room was a box with two rods peeking from behind it. The ceiling wasn’t thatched like the one in his house but smooth. From the ceiling dangled a long pole with three sharp blades. He wondered what all these things were. He turned his back to look at the British man. Smiling, the older man sat on the couch and nodded for Mide to sit as well.
‘I’m all ears.’
‘I know where the missing child is.’
Olokpa Chapman’s eyes were wide like saucers.
‘Do you know what you speak of?’
‘I am certain Sir.’
‘Where is this place?’
‘On the forbidden paths to the stream.’
‘Baba Soji said that place was unsafe. Do you know the risk you could put yourself into by going there?’
‘I care less about the risk but I care more about the child.’
Olokpa Chapman watched the boy carefully and knew that there was a hidden confession behind the words he just spoke.
‘We will check it out at dusk.’
From behind a curtain, Dabeyon listened attentively and decided she was going to ask Baba Soji if he knew anything about the missing child residing in this unsafe path to the stream.