It was the early hours of the day. Buyers were already in the farm to get eggs. But the eggs were not enough and some people had to go elsewhere. The farmer was sad. So he went under a shade to milk a cow. As he worked silently, an old friend walked in. Smiling faintly, the visitor threw out a question, “Great farmer, how are you?” He sat on the chair beside his friend and crossed his legs.
“Fine, my brother,” Ajayi raised his head and replied. He masked his anger with a smile and got back to work.
“You are always busy, Ajayi. How is your family?”
There was no answer.
Sensing that his friend was unhappy, the visitor, Mr. Bode, sat up and asked, “What is wrong, Ajayi? You look pale as if you had fallen from a tree.”
Ajayi hissed. He rose to his feet and moved to a corner and sat on a chair. “My eggs were stolen last night!” he lamented and turned away.
“You mean a thief visited your farm last night?” Mr. Bode shook his head, “what a wicked world! Did you get the person?”
“No. He escaped before I could do anything,” Mr. Ajayi told his friend.
Bode took a deep breathe and crossed his arms over his body. “You have been complaining about this thief for a long time,” he said and coughed. “It is now a bone in your neck.”
“Yes, but I will have my way someday!” Ajayi spoke confidently as their eyes met.
Bode nodded. “Oh, you will. Everyday is for the thief but one day is for the owner of the house. If I may ask, how do you intend to stop the thief?”
Ajayi sighed deeply. He flung a glance at his guest who was anxiously awaiting a response. But since he was not ready to reveal his plans, he replied, “I don’t have any plan in my head yet.”
“Ah,” the visitor was disappointed. “This is not your best of times. But my mind tells me something.”
“Please tell me,” Ajayi insisted and sat up.
“Your workers might have a hand in this!” Mr. Bode disclosed. He raised an eyebrow, nodding gently.
Mr. Ajayi faced the roof and pondered over his words. Not convinced, he turned to his friend and replied, “I trust my workers. They don’t steal!”
The visitor chuckled and said, “You sound like a man under a spell.”
“You are a business man, Ajayi. Don’t get me wrong. I did not say it is a crime to trust people. But anybody can change. A friend in the day could be an enemy at night!”
Ajayi took a mighty heave and looked at his face. “Very well. I will look at them closely and see if I have a thief among them,” he replied.
There was silence. But before they could blink, Tolu, one of Mr. Ajayi’s workers walked in. “Sir, tomorrow will be great!” he announced with a warm smile.
Ajayi and his guest shut a glance at each other. Then the farmer asked, “What do you mean?”
“The layers are doing well. We have over seven crates of eggs now!” Tolu disclosed and shifted his weight to one leg.
Mr. Ajayi smiled faintly, “Good. I will tell you what to do as soon as we are through with work today.”
“Okay sir,” Tolu replied with a bow and moved away.
As soon as the worker left, Mr. Bode tapped his friend on the shoulder and asked, “What do you want to tell the lad?”
“Tolu is a good worker. I want to give him some money. At least, a good worker deserves a gift,” he replied slyly.
Mr. Bode looked at him. He nodded quietly and said, “That’s a good idea. That will make him work harder,” he heaved and rose to his feet, “my friend, I must leave now. You know my wife is pregnant. We expect our baby any moment from now.”
Mr. Ajayi nodded, “Good to be close to your wife. You have always had male children. A female child will be treasured this time!”
“Yes, that is my fondest wish.” Mr. Bode sounded as they laughed out loud. The farmer walked his visitor to the gate. As soon as he was gone, Ajayi slammed the gate behind him. He stood there, staring at the beautiful earth like a man lost in his thought. After a time, he breathed the air of relief and walked to the shade.