The King, yes the king, he isn’t barmy, or is he? Perhaps this is all a joke and the elders will call us back and say, “Your Royal Highness, the Prince, we were just testing your patience and tolerance.” Or maybe the king wants me to chart a new path in life; after all he has educated me in all ways possible and available! So many thoughts right now, I can’t seem to focus on any! These were the ramblings going on in the mind of the Prince.
“Now I shall be rewarded”, said the Slave aloud once out of earshot. “All the years of toiling and serving the king, he is a good man, he recognizes loyalty and dedication. Just one thing and one thing only and I shall have the rest, how wonderful it is to finally own something. No, not just something, everything less one thing! Yes the Prince will become the King but a poor king with just one thing. I will approach him with my wealth and offer some in exchange for a place in the dynasty. He will have no choice but to give me what I want”. On and on mused the Slave. He could vision the day; he played the scene over and over in his head.
“My prince, why are you all by yourself here in this lonely place at this hour of the night?”
“Where would I rather be stranger? Amongst the people who awaits my ascendancy as a pauper king? Or pleading with a Slave that my father intends to ridicule my reign with? Where old stranger I ask? By the way, how did you know I am a Prince and how did you find me here?” the Prince blurted out, all in one breath to the strange old man!
Come with me my Prince, I shall tell you a story, you know sometimes it is sensible that everyone has a fair crack of the whip he began as the Prince got up to follow him obediently. “Once upon a time in a far away land there lived a king just like your father”, he went on and the Prince listened with rapt attention.
And the day came to be that all were gathered in the kingdom arena. The elders, the Prince, the Slave and an unusual crowd that had gathered to witness the proceedings which promise to go down in the history of the kingdom as epic. It was being passed from ear to ear that there will be a feast in the Slave’s compound once this gathering is done with. It was strongly advised that all should be present as by then he would be one of the richest in the kingdom.
The Prince sat quietly, seems he has resigned to fate. The Slave was the exact opposite, he was seen moving from one end of the arena to the other exchanging pleasantries, and he was indeed beside himself with joy and happiness. Today he will be a free man and a rich one too.
Time has come, bellowed the spokesman for the elders, we invite the Prince to choose his one and only possession! The whole arena went quiet; you could hear a pin drop as the Prince got up. He walked to the middle of the arena, as he opened his mouth to speak, his countenance changed.
Today I stand before you as one who has been humbled, the silence was so thick, thick as a blanket draped over the heads of everyone present, and it was like they were all gasping for breath. He went on, I have searched myself over and over and asked myself times without number why my father set before me this hurdle so big that each time I try I sink deeper. While growing up he has dealt with me in riddles, set before me puzzles and each time he always says to me son the answer stares you in the eyes. He has always told me if you look close enough you might just see that what you seek in so far away places is all the while within your grasp!
Today, I face the ultimate test of my father’s wisdom. I thank him for the opportunity to discover myself and those around me. An opportunity so great that it jolts you back to reality faster than a thousand joules of energy, a wise man once said, “Sleep and pretend that you are dead, and count the number of people that will mourn you”, “Walk hurriedly and fake a stumble, and watch how many will bid you well”. The world is will dance with you and laugh with you when things are going well, they will dance without you and laugh at you if things turns for the worse.
I came to a crossroad on the last market day, when the elders informed me that I have been left with just one possession by my father the King. A prince of the kingdom, the sole heir to the throne! My dejection knew no boundary as I descended into an abyss of sorrow and evil thoughts. Surely my father the king must have been mad! He must have taken leave of his senses, could the elders not have advised him against such action? How dare he do such a thing to ridicule me? It took the counsel of a stranger, one that saw my despair and took me on a long journey quite similar to mine to come to this conclusion. The wisdom of another yet prevents one from calling the elder foolish!
Everyone held their breath, what will he choose? Oh, poor Prince, surely he deserves more than just one possession from his father. Come to think of it, what can he choose?
Everyone have been given equal opportunities to do something right! I am sure my father would not have wanted me to take any other decision that the one am about to take. My father once said “if a process works well for you think well before changing it”. I have made up my mind to choose the . . . .
The slave served him well, am sure he will serve me too. The reason is not far fetched according to the story told by the stranger, he who owns the slave, owns the slave’s possessions!
And the Slave fainted, the story changed and so did allegiance, and the story ended!
Afolabi Williams is service personified. His passion for service delivery is evident in the way his contribution to the competition organized to name the old Platinum Bank magazine emerged tops and earned him the maiden slot as the first staff to be profiled in “Passion”. He has a Bachelor of Technology degree in Computer Science from the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, a Master of Science degree in Multimedia and Interactive Systems from Napier University, Edinburgh Scotland, a graduate of the Senior Management Program (Class 36) of the Lagos Business School (LBS) and a member of Lagos Country Club, Ikeja. He presently manages the Channels and Automation group in the Information Technology division of Keystone Bank Limited. Afolabi is one of the founding members of The Trent’s Elite Voices and he blogs at Folabi Williams.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.