Previously on Forest of Hope: Story: Forest of Hope by Dare Alabi (Season 1, Episode 1)
At table, Gbeola sat face to face with his wife. “My Lord, there is something that I will like to discuss with you”. “And what is it all about?’ Gbeola asked. “I had a dream last night. In the dream, I saw a beautiful woman, who promised me a child with a glorious future”. The husband cuts in “Hymn that must be Olomoyeye, the goddess of fertility. She has appeared to me too on several occasions and now that she has passed the information across to you too, let’s just be prayerful and hope that soonest God will answer our prayer”. “Amen”, they both chorused.
They both headed for the farm after breakfast. They were to work at the cassava plantation but Gbeola excused himself and went to check his cocoa plantation that has started flowering. Yemisi quickly buckled up for work. She engaged herself in raking the weeds in the cassava plantation. She usually does the little she can and leaves the rest for her husband who is not only hardworking but has the stamina to work for hours. Having done the little she could do, she waited for her husband to come back. When the wait was getting longer than necessary, she decided to check him up at the cocoa plantation. She got there to found her husband in a hot argument with the Esos. She was shocked to the bone marrow because she knew the Esos to be devilish.
The Esos have illegally plucked some cocoa pods from Gbeola’s farm and Gbeola was not in any way pleased with this action. This, has been the constant practice by the Esos; taking away people’s property without their consent.
This time around, Gbeola wanted to put a check on their audacity. He even intended beating up the Esos but his wife came at the right time. She pleaded with her husband to leave the Esos with their atrocities. She then took him back to the cassava plantation.
“My dear, these people must not continue like this, someone has to check them one day. They make laws that is difficult for people to comply with, kill innocent people at the dusk of the day in order to make away with their properties. Balogun himself is a curse to this town. He behaves as if his fore fathers never had a traceable origin in this town. He recruits innocent youths as Esos and unleash terror on individual who refused to comply with his orders”.
“I am very sure that things will not continue like this forever” Yemisi was forced to shout on him when his lamentations did not stop. “My husband let us leave them to God and please, let this be the last time you will stand against these wicked creatures. They are heartless and do not have an iota of love for human life, especially whosoever dares to block them from carrying out their evil acts”. “Thank you my dear, but there are times when one would be forced to object to their foolishness and stupidity”.
They worked in the farm as fast as they could in order to make up for the lost time. Yemisi later left her husband; she went under the shed made of bamboo tree and palm leaves to prepare some yam for lunch. As soon as the yam was ready, they sat together under the shed and did justice to the yam with the aid of palm oil. After their lunch, Yemisi took to breaking of palm kernel nuts while Gbeola strolled to his plantain farm, some few meters away from the shed.
Two fierce looking Esos came to the shed and asked after Gbeola. One of them was huge, his eyes were terrifying. Yemisi refused to disclose her husband’s whereabouts and the Esos were running out of patience. When they could not bear it with her any longer, an Eso surged forward to rough handle her; it was at this point that Gbeola arrived the scene. He was mad with them, he felt very bad for them to have gotten the gut to roughen another man’s wife.
“Who cares whose wife she is” Said one Eso. Gbeola then asked for their mission this second time. One of them quickly answered; “Balogun demanded that we should bring you alive, otherwise we could have killed you without hesitation”
“Kill me without hesitation” Gbeola said this statement repeatedly. At this point, Yemisi became frightened; she couldn’t predict what could happen next. She started having problem with her stomach, she felt like going to ease herself. Her husband was whisked away by the Esos. Yemisi was not feeling good at all but had to run down to Jide’s house and told him what happened. Yemisi and Jide made a quick march to Balogun’s palace and found Gbeola being interrogated by Balogun himself.
“Who are these and who invited you here” Balogun asked. I am Jide, Gbeola’s friend and this Yemisi, his wife” “Now that you have come, what do you intend to do” Jide quckly answered “Nothing, absolute nothing sir”.
“God saves your heads; I would have sliced it into pieces at the shrine of OGUN, the god of iron, if you had not watched your tongue”.
Jide became heavier within, speechless, and inferior. His heart beat increased and he felt as if blood was flowing up to his mouth. His memory went back to the last time that he was rudely addressed by one of the agents of King Adewale. Jide’s father was a chief in the palace then. Jide treated the agent to a through beating but today he was helpless, couldn’t do anything so as to be able to see the light of some other days.
Jide was implored to seriously warn his friend to face his business squarely and stop throwing offensive words at the Esos. Balogun said he has tempered justice with mercy because Gbeola’s father; Adegbayi was a responsible man while he was alive. He said Adegbayi was a good man who never intruded into other people’s affairs. He stressed that everybody in the community should leave the Esos alone with the administration of the community.
Behold! At last Gbeola was released. His wife was very happy; Jide too was very happy but decided to keep his ordeal with Balogun in his memory book. Gbeola too will never forget this day in his life time and the two jolly friends both promised to relay the incident to their children, God’s willing.
They all walked home and departed at a cross road that leads to their different houses. Gbeola and his wife headed home with mixed feelings. Happy that no physical harm was done to them but suffer serious mental degradation as a result of the treatment meted to them by Balogun. They pitied the town as a whole and the in-coming generation, if things should continue in that order.