Adaku was told the words from the gods. It was Ezemmuo, who came to the palace to see her, to tell her the latest development. He also told her she would have to be married to a son of the son from a good home.
Adaku: “But I am only twelve” she said thoughtfully.
Ezemmuo: “It doesn’t matter. Have you started seeing your monthly visitor?”
Adaku: “Yes I have” she replied without flinching. Her mother had talked to her about her monthly visitor and sex. She had told her that she was a princess and therefore should not allow any man that was not worth it deflower her.
Ezemmuo: “Then you are ripe enough. This is a chance for you to continue your father’s lineage because your first son will be born to your father’s name” he explained everything to her and then handed her over to the women in the village. They were to fatten her and pamper her in preparation for the Dance where different men from different age group would dance for the princess; she would pick one man to be her husband from them.
Every young girl in the village envied Adaku; they wanted to be her friend. Some girls from good families were picked to be her handmaids; they went with her everywhere and played with her. But in all these, Adaku was not happy, this was not the life her mother wanted for her. She would be thrown into the same race for a boy child that her mother had been in, and had ultimately taken her life. She didn’t want to be queen, or get married, she only wanted to go to school and become like Queen Elizabeth.
Adaku: “But how do I escape from this people?” she wondered because twenty four hours a day, she had people around her. They were either feeding her sweets, or oiling her skin, or massaging her waist. There was no way to get away from them.
The day for the dance ceremony came, there was a buzz in the village, and it was like even the gods were happy with them today. A little drizzle had wet the ground in the early hours of the morning, after so many months without rain. Even the sun looked happy, with its smile up in the sky. People cooked the last yams they had in their barn because they believed salvation had come for Igbundu; things were about to go back to the way it was before.
As for the good, marriageable sons of Igbundu, they oiled their skins and drew beautiful patterns on them, they used new lappas to wrap around their waist and crossed it in a V-shape around their manhood. It was a way to showcase what they had, and how of a man they were. They were already at the village square, with all the other villagers, waiting for the princess to arrive.
The princess Adaku was girded in an abada wrapper that was tied around her waist and just mid thigh, three rows of ileke beads were arranged on her waist, and another rows of ileke was used as blouse to cover her breasts.
She sat in her hut, which was her mother’s hut before she died, awaiting the men that would take her to the village square. She was supposed to be seated in a decorated chair that would be hoisted by four hefty men. She was still waiting when a masked man came into the hut, she was immediately scared because she didn’t feel good about it.
Adaku: “Who are you?” she asked, trying not to show her fear.
Masked man: “I am to bring you to the village square, the whole village is waiting for you” he said in a muffled voice. Before Adaku could protest further, he scooped her on to his shoulders and started to run. He ran out through the back of the hut. Something told Adaku to scream, but she didn’t want to scream, because then people would say “Why is she screaming, is she scared of marriage?”. So, she kept quiet, but when she saw that the man was not going towards the village square, but towards the forest that led out of Igbundu, she knew something was wrong, and she began to scream, but it was too late, no one would hear her.
Adaku: “Where are you taking me, it is definitely not to the village square, and what do you want to do to me. Please have mercy on me, my mother is dead” she cried.
The man ran without stopping, till they got to the river bank, this place which was usually busy, was deserted because, the people had not traded for months, the river Niger stunk of dead fishes. When he put her down at the river, she saw her uncle, Azagba.
Adaku: “Uncle, what is going on?” she asked, relieved to see a familiar face.
Azagba: “You are going to have a new home, Igbundu is dangerous for you” he said and made to touch her, but she moved away. The words she heard sent cold chills down her back.
Adaku: “I am not stupid uncle. You want me out of the way so you will be King. I am not really interested in ruling Igbundu, so just let me go and live my life elsewhere” she said vehemently. Azagba just howled in laughter, this one reminded him of their father, the king before Emelu.
Azagba: “You are not stupid, me neither. I am not going to risk you coming back, so I will take you to your new home. Get her into the boat” he gestured to the masked man who swooped Adaku on to his shoulder again before he could protest and moved into the boat. Azagba stood and watched them, making sure that the boat sailed away successfully, he could have killed her but he was scared of the gods and what they would do to him, if he shed her blood. Besides the girl had not done him any wrong, she only stood between him and the crown he had sought for all these years.
So he returned to the village, to a village of chaos, he avoided the village square and made sure he entered his house from the back. Lucky for him, his compound was deserted when he entered, so he went to his hut and laid down, as if he has been there all the while. Just then, his first wife came in, she looked surprise when she saw him. It was the same look she had on her face when she was younger and unmarried, and he had stumbled on her coming out of the stream where she had her bathe. She had been stark naked because she had not expected anyone to be around. That was when he knew he wanted to marry her, she was so full as an African woman should be. He was not surprised she started conceiving immediately they got married.
Azagba: “What is it? Have you seen a ghost?” he asked nonchalantly.
First Wife: “My husband, I checked in your room before oh, I didn’t see you”
Azagba: “I was with Ezidemili, why were you looking for me?” he asked with a frown
First Wife: “Hmmn! There is fire on the mountain, the princess is nowhere to be found,. People thought she ran but Ezemmuo and the chief priest thinks someone abducted her, they are calling the person an enemy of Igbundu” she said, demonstrating with her hands.
Azagba: “It is clear to see that the gods did not support the idea of a woman ruling Igbundu. The people who plotted to take away my birthright, are being put to shame” he replied with a satisfied smile.
First Wife: “But my husband, did you see the day today? Rain fell, after many months of drought, did you see the sun, I think the gods wanted the princess to rule Igbundu”
Azagba: “Shut up and get out of my presence” he barked. His wife ran out of his hut in fright, she shuddered as a thought formed in her head.
First Wife: “My chi do not allow me see shame” she prayed.
The boat sailed to the other side of the river, which was Asaba, Adaku looked back on her home and all she could see was a big expanse of water. Who would take care of her father now? She wondered. Since her father went mad, she had taken care of him, talked to him every day and sang to him. She also prayed to his chi and the gods to have mercy on him and restore his sanity. Now that she was gone, who would take care and do all the things she did for him.
Adaku worried about her father, but she didn’t worry about herself. If only she knew what awaited her at her new home.
Question: What will happen to Adaku in the new land, will Azagba succeed in becoming King?
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