Continued from #15
By Mutebi Wilson
Gulu stared at his grand-sons; his deep eyes casting a shadow of intimidation over each of them. Searching for something, anything that reminded him of his dear daughter. It was pathetic but if he was going to help this situation, he was not going to do it for free. That is how it had always been, the mortals sacrificed and if their gifts were worthy, he would answer their prayers.
The maids stood by the sides with their heads bowed in reverence and the boys looked at each other through the corners of their eyes as a sudden silence ate up the room.
Finally, his eyes caught onto something. The youngest.The boy seemed to have a hidden resemblance to him and now he was at a crossroad, who would he keep? The eldest who was meek and could easily be manipulated or the youngest that reminded him of a treasure he had lost?He grunted, that would be a decision to make later.
The three brothers, dumbfound, couldn’t pull their eyes away from the table.
Kano the third was the first to recover and he looked around wondering why no one was eating yet.The food looked very delicious and smelt so good that for once he didn’t miss mother’s cooking.
Kano the first was not going to fall for this one again. At least, now his fate was in his own hands and he wasn’t going to fail this time round. He had to get this one right and win Gulu to his side.
Kano the second was at the middle of all the chaos, he had not fallen in or out of favor and he wanted it to be that way.
“My grandchildren,” Gulu drawled.
“Yes,” responded the three brothers in unison,their eyes darting towards him.
Kintu and his wife stood at a distance viewing the entire spectacle from a corner.
“Do you think that he is going to give them another task?” Nambi asked.
“I do not know,” answered Kintu, “But he has always been obsessed with tasks, he may order his servants to get them more and more food until one bursts open or two give up.”he laughed.
Nambi glared at him. She loved her children and would not tolerate any grim joke involving their death. Kintu knew this but was glad that the boys had experienced a little bit of suffering for all the trouble they had caused.Those three creatures had not only made his life miserable with their name but also ushered his beloved cow to death. Thank the heavens, it had borne one which resembled it to the hoof before its death otherwise he wouldn’t have recovered that fast.
Gulu stroked his long beard in deep thought as the boys turned back to their plates. He could tell from their state that they had heard quite a lot about him from their parents.
“You,” he pointed to the young one, “come forward.”
Kano the third stood up and walked towards his grandfather. The boy didn’t hesitate in his steps at all, or falter. He wore a cloak of confidence that impressed him.
“Do you have anything you want to say to me?” Gulu asked.
“Maybe not now,” said Kano the third, “But I believe that the food in the palace of heaven is the best in the entire world with its delectable aroma.It is even better than mother’s actually.”
Everyone in the court burst into laughter and Gulu smirked.
Without his knowledge, Kano the third had actually touched the old man’s weak spot. Gulu was the kind that would not hold back in case of such high praise. His ego was not just his character; it was his person.
Kano the third wore a smug smile on his face.There was no doubt that he had not only won over his father but his grandfather as well. His mother on other hand, did not seem too happy with what he had done, she was probably going to scold him for not having any manners and appreciating her food enough.
“Well done, my boy!” Gulu bellowed, “you can now go and eat, fill your tummy with anything laid before you.”
As Kano the third walked back, the other two could not help themselves and they dug into the tempting food with their hands even before he could sit down to start with his heap, all their worries forgotten for the time being. First, they needed to fill their stomachs.
“The oldest,” called Gulu, “come here.”
Kano the first paused in his actions, and reluctantly returned the food he was planning to put in his mouth to the plate. His heart thumped a bit faster,his palms felt sweaty and he felt light headed as he rushed to his grandfather. He knew how fast his temper could change based on the stories his father told and he did not want to face Gulu’s wrath.
“You are the oldest?” he asked.
“Yes,”Kano the first, mumbled.
“Okay then,” replied Gulu, “Tell me about your father. He told me that he gave you and your brothers some tasks. Tell me more about those tasks and how they went.”
Kano the first realised that it was too late to win Gulu to his side; but he now understood the events of the past few days. Their father was after something and it seemed as though everything that had happened was leading to it.Otherwise,there was no other reason for him to tell such a story to their grandfather.
There was something going on in the background for sure. His father’s laughter after he had spilled the milk was no longer a big mystery and he was never going to get punished as he had thought at first. Maybe because of it, that is why they were here.
He sighed and decided that it was best to stand at the side lines as the story unfolded before him. Trying to figure out the situation was making him think of the food he had left behind and yet he had to answer the mighty Gulu.
“Two tasks, three brothers,” replied Kano the first with a slight quiver in his voice.
To be continued next week on Wednesday ?