I started a series last month that was supposed to go up every Friday, it wasn’t even meant to be a series. I wanted to write a short piece for my Friday Fiction Series but the story kept getting longer and longer. I posted the first part in May and this is the second… I hope I don’t post the next one in July 😉
The saga began here====>> Friday Fiction- Gilded Throne.
Adesuwa’s niece was born on her wedding day, Itohan had run away to live with Osarodion the village hunter and occasional palm wine tapper. When Adesuwa asked her sister why she would commit such a foolish act, Itohan stared sullenly at her.
“Answer me, I say, before the gods scatter you to bits and pieces” Adesuwa shouted.
“I am not beautiful, my head cannot carry book and I cannot even trade. What else is there for me than marriage?”
“But this is not marriage, you ran to him and told him to take you. How will he respect you?” Adesuwa was livid.
“Na respect I go chop? Abeg free me jare and talk about better things”
She remembered that conversation when the news of her niece’s birth reached them as they bustled to make the compound presentable.
“God has done it for me!” her father shouted repeatedly
“Double miracle, Boom-Boom like cannon rocket fire. Uwese Osanobua” he’d clap his hands in a funny rhythm as he alternatively shouted and muttered to himself.
When the royal visitors came, he recounted how his daughter had a baby that morning although he didn’t mention that the child was illegitimate. He told them he had named the girl Goodluck because she brought Goodluck from heaven. The men and women bent their faces to hide their laughter, they felt sorry for the wretched man who lived in a cocoon woven from threads of fantasy and the silk of illusion.
Adesuwa interpreted their gestures correctly and was upset that they mocked her father so callously, he might have been greedy and dense but he was still her father.
Even Adesuwa was impressed by the gifts they brought for her, brought to marry her. She carried images of the sewing machines, deep freezer, two giant refrigerators, cartons of soap, boxes of clothes, racks of dried cod which everyone called “okporoko”; in her head for a very long time.
She had spent two long months in the palace before she summoned the courage to ask her eunuch Osaretin, about the women. There were six of them, all of them middle aged women. They would stand near the southern wall and sing heartreakingly sad songs about finding love and losing it in the most cruel manner possible.
“Who are they?” She whispered to him on a Saturday morning after she’d stamped down her curiosity for too long.
“Why do you ask?” he begun tracing patterns on the soil with his staff.
“Because I am curious.”
“Curiosity is not a good thing in women, remember how Eve was curious about the apple.
“O! Will you stop calling it an apple!” she snapped.
“What should I call it Queen Adesuwa? An orange?”
She lowered her head in consternation, he only called her Queen when she’d upset him. Osaretin was about the same age and build as her beloved Fredrick, the same Fredrick who had calmly allowed her leave his life and even asked her to remember him in her kingdom.He didn’t even pretend to be sad, he just said it was her destiny to be royalty.
“They are the wives of the former ruler, the father of your husband” He said finally.
“But they are so young!” She cried, “They must have been young enough to be his granddaughters!”
He looked at her and her heart fell to her stomach.
“I can’t live like that”
“It is not a bad life, they live in the lap of luxury and get anything they want,” his voice was weary
“But they are confined to this walls, their husband is dead, he has been dead for more than thirty years. Are you telling me that they haven’t felt the touch of love in all those years?”
“You can’t miss what you have never known” he said curtly.
“You mean, you mean…” She stammered.
“Have you felt the touch of love, Adesuwa? Have you writhed with the passion that a man and a woman shares?” His voice was rough and his eyes blazed.
“But he has been sick, when he recovers…” She scratched her head.
“No wonder they say women have fish brains, can’t you see things as they truly are?”
“I cannot imagine the alternative, I’d rather die than become a wailing wailer like these women.”
He stretched his left hand to her but let it fall before it touched her, she turned her back to him and walked to her chambers slowly while he watched her.
Two weeks later Itohan came to the palace to see her sister, she was to collect money for her father’s surgery and school fees for their younger siblings, their brother Efosa came with her but he was only allowed to see her in the general courtyard, he couldn’t even hug her. When Adesuwa asked Itohan to follow her to her room, she raised an eyebrow but Adesuwa’s resolute face brooked no questions.
“Give this bag to Mama, don’t let Papa see it. There’s money in it, plenty money; Mama will give you two hundred thousand naira to start a trade with. The money will come in bits, fifty thousand first and as you need money she will give you. I know you said you cannot trade but please look for something that even YOU can do. My niece cannot live in the kind of conditions I grew up in, in the kind of poverty that we were immersed in from birth.”
Itohan’s jaw dropped, that was more money than she could imagine.
“Uwese Sister!” She gushed.
“I will call Mama and tell her how to disburse the rest of the money but please ensure that the money is well managed and that all our siblings will go to school and live good lives.”
“Sister why are you talking like this now, you will live to see all that happen”
“Itohan no one knows tomorrow, anyway I have paid all their school fees to the end of secondary school at Maria Goretti”
“That must have cost millions! When you transferred them there, Papa nearly had a heart attack when he heard how much their school fees cost” Itohan barely managed to whisper the words.
“Tell Mama that I’ll call her in the evening, tell Efosa that I am so happy ab0ut his admission at Uniben. Tell him to come to the palace tomorrow so that he and my eunuch will go to the bank to open an account for him, his expenses per year will come from there.”
Itohan fell to her knees and thanked her sister, Adesuwa said nothing but her eyes were bright, very bright and wet. When Itohan told her mother all that transpired, her mother said nothing. She collected the bag solemnly and counted out fifty thousand naira and gave Itohan who was too excited to notice the tears staining her mothers cheeks.
Part three (hopefully the concluding part) will be posted next Friday.