“What do you mean you are withdrawing?”
Babatunde stared,as he tried to make sense of what Adejare was telling him
Adejare shrugged, “You are not exactly deaf my friend. I have no intention of being a reluctant king. If I was the right king , Ifa would not be dropping that bombshell that there was a missing prince. Beside I have had serious second thoughts. I would like to live abroad and this king business will cramp my style. I can’t be king from abroad you know”
Babatunde sighed and paced his office.
Adejare looked at him from the chair he was sitting in, then he became puzzled, “That really should make it easier, just hand the darn thing over to Adewunmi and he will let go”
Babatunde gave a wry smile, “Adewunmi for your information is considering withdrawing from the race too. He came to see me last night. So I am wondering what type of game this is between the pair of you. First I was offered money but the money turns up in my account , then the government insists on seating in on the selection process and as if that is not enough, you both want to pull out. No can do”
“I don’t get you”
Babatunde returned to the seat and gave Adejare a level stare, “The selection process will go on with the government official sitting in and whoever is selected can jolly well tell the gathering of elders including the whole town that he is turning it down. You will state your reasons to the town and not me, I am just a member”
They stared at each other
Adejare laughed “You can crown an absent king?, I have not the slightest intention to turn up for the next meeting. I have booked my flight, I am taking Ireti to London and there is no force that will stop me. You can arrange your town meeting between now and tomorrow for I am leaving for Lagos as my flight is for midnight tomorrow. Now how are you going to stop me?”
Babatunde gave him a long look and asked abruptly, “You are being threatened by who?”
Adejare stared at him, tried to laugh ,went silent and clenched fists raised to his eyes, “I…” swallowed and made for the door, but Babatunde was quicker and stood barring Adejare with his back to the door. Both men looked at each other Adejare was the first to drop his defiant stance. He slumped back into the chair and covered his eyes with fists, chest heaving.” I am not qualified to contest, my mother pleaded that I should withdraw as she does not want the secret of the missing prince to be disclosed through her, for it will mean death”.
Babatunde went back to his seat, “there really is a missing prince somewhere?”
Adejare simply nodded
“Who is he?”, Babatunde pressed
“She would not tell me, but knelt and begged me that what Ifa said was true and she begged that if I went ahead and contested, she could not imagine the consequences”
“Fine time for her to beg you to cry off, but for Adewunmi, you would be about finishing the rites to being crowned”
“I told her that and she said I would have been dead before I could walk into the palace, later an old man came to visit her late at night, she wouldn’t tell me who the person was but she became really frightened after that visit and refused all entreaties to speak except to tell me to save her life and not be a contestant”
“ Is there a reason to suspect that you may not have been what you have portrayed yourself to be? I am tired of all these mysteries”
Adejare bristled and glared, “What exactly are you suggesting?”
Babatunde gave him a cold stare, “Is there a deeper reason that we may have been deceived into thinking you had a right to be king?”
Adejare was enraged and stood up glaring, then he growled deep in his throat moving towards Babatunde who gave the same growl. At the same time they moved towards each other. Somebody knocked on the door and the men froze. There was puzzled pain in Adejare’s voice, “I have never done that before.” Babatunde uncurled his fists and he was puzzled too.
The door opened and Babatunde’s father stared at the two men. “What is going on here?”
Babatunde frowned, “What do you mean Papa? I was having a chat with Adejare”
Babatunde’s father gave both of them a close look and they returned his questioning look a blank stare. He sighed and walked out of the room.