At the office, Ndubisi nursed a gnawing fear all day. Before he left for work that morning, his mother had again, reminded him of the vicious man, Eke and how he might be scheming an unpleasant comeback.

Before he left for work, she had followed him down the stairs, to the landing where she reiterated her words holding his wrist.

‘Please Ndu, don’t forget to see Igwe Okelue today.’

‘I’m not going to see him, mama. There is no need for that. I don’t want him to think I don’t respect his sovereignty,’ but she had limped closer and looked into his eyes.

‘I insist you go and see him!’ Ndubisi saw her fears. It scared him.

‘Mother, Eke has been beaten and I’m sure he has decided to let the sleeping dog lie. Don’t worry. He won’t be back.’ he nursed her shoulder but she shrug his hand off. How could her son be this stubborn?

‘I don’t believe he has let go of the struggle. He is certainly sharpening his pointers somewhere. You should have plans in place too. I’m sure he will strike soon.’ her voice was firm and sharp and she beat the landing rail to drive her words home.

‘Let’s not delay me, mana.I don’t believe he has that kind of guts. He can’t possibly fight his Royal Highness.’

‘You can never be too sure. This thing I’m seeing sitting down, you can’t see standing.’

Those were the words that frightened him at the office and that had forced him to make up his mind to meet with the King.

After work, Ndubisi drove to the palace after making sure his son Chinedu got home from school safely. He was a bit disturbed about him going home all by himself.

When he was approaching the palace, he heard loud voices. His heart leaped and sprinted. He felt uneasy and pulled his car over by the tall ornamental trees along the Palace Avenue and listened carefully. Voices of men, women and screeching voices of children revealed a possible jubilation.

A good news might have reached the palace. What could it be? It was a Wednesday and couldn’t be weekend party which normally held at the palace.

Ndubisi started the engine and continued to the palace. On reaching the gate, he heard the voices of the elders cracking jokes around the king. The giant golden gate was ajar and the compound wasn’t as restricted as it used to be on an ordinary day. No protocols. It’s like a move-as-you-like moment.

When the King sighted Ndubisi, he sent one of the guards to welcome him.

‘Igweeee!’ Ndubisi greeted with a low bow. The guests were dressed in the traditional attire of varied styles and colours making him look different.

‘Ndu! Welcome to the joyful moment.’

“Igwe, this is a pleasant surprise. What is the good news all about?” He raised his voice so that Igwe could hear him amidst the deafening noises.

“My son is back from the US. He has concluded his study and has made me proud, with first-class honours! I’m happy Ndu! In fact, I am the happiest man on earth.” Ndubisi strained his ear to hear him.

“Outstanding! This is tremendous news. Where is he my Igwe? I really need to offer him a special handshake.”

“Sit with me. He will come out soon to greet his guests.”

“This is really a happy moment.” Ndubisi made himself comfortable and joined in the merry making, eating and drinking.

“Eat! Drink! I’m glad you came.”

“I’m here to stay till it’s all over! Igwe! Am I not lucky to be a part of this pleasure?”

“You certainly are.” he, Igwe and the elders laughed.

Ndubisi made sure he didn’t get drunk, else he would sleep at the Igwe’s. He needed to drive home in safety to face his mother. He was sure that once he told her the reason why he didn’t do what she asked, she would understand.

~~~~~~~~

It was 10 pm when Ndubisi got home and his mother was the one to open the main gate for him. She didn’t wait for him to step out of the car and greet. She knocked on the glass and he rolled it down.

‘What now, mama? Can’t you wait for me to-‘

“Something scary happened in your absence.’ her voice was lost in a whisper. ‘Some men came to the house asking for Chinedu. One of them said he stole a gold wristwatch from his car.’ She held her mouth as if she had revealed an ancient secret.

“Where is Chinedu now?” his breath was in his hands as he said those four words and couldn’t wait for an answer.

Chinwe’s sob was coming from the bedroom. He flew to the second floor of the three-story building without his briefcase. His mother thought he would tumble and shouted after him, ‘Dont kill yourself, Ndu.’

To be continued.