The days leading to the ceremonial dance were unbearable for Oluchi, especially since she had to sit and listen to Efé and Amaka give her a vivid description of how the ceremonial dance was going to turn out.
Efé was so sure that she was going to be the next Lolo of Asaman village that Oluchi could detect a sense of jealousy and dislike from Amaka. This was not going to be easy; whoever the prince chose over the other would have to deal with the bitterness of the other. The maidens of Asaman were beauty itself and Efé and Amaka were no exception.
In her heart, Oluchi knew that the prince would end up settling for a marriage of convenience other than love but love could always come later. With time, he would get to know his wife and develop true affections for her. With that thought, Oluchi was content.
On the eve of the ceremonial dance, Oluchi, Amaka and Efé went to the village market to purchase new beads, cloths and other accessories they would need for the ceremonial dance. Oluchi had intentionally not informed the girls of her absence in the upcoming dance. She figured it would too troublesome to bring up questions she had no answers to.
They bought the most beautiful things the market had to offer and went home. Like them, many maidens were busy preparing for the ceremony. They could not stop talking about the handsome prince and how lucky they would be, to be married to one of the most powerful men in their fatherland. The mothers were more ecstatic than the maidens themselves. Not only would their child because the queen, but all riches, power and honour would be bestowed upon their family, no matter their background.
Oluchi helped the girls prepare for tomorrow. She plaited their hair and arranged them in a tight up-do that befitted queens. The dance would start at 10 a.m. so there was no time to waste on the eve of it all; everything had to be made ready for the next day.
“Oluchi, Amaka will be sleeping here tonight; why can’t you sleep over?” Efé asked as she rehearsed her routine for the dance in her compound.
“My guardian would like to speak with me tonight before the dance tomorrow, surely, you can understand,” Oluchi lied. No-one knew the guardian of Oluchi was the fetish priest – all they knew was that she lived with an old lady who had taken care of her when her mother died in childbirth. For the nosy ones, Oluchi always conjured a kind hearted old woman to keep up the charade. The lie she must live to be a mortal, Oluchi thought in amusement.
She stood up from the wooden stole and walked around leisurely; relieving herself from the anxiety building up in her.
“How about I come here early in the morning so that we can all get ready together?”
“That’s okay. It would have been better if you spent the night though. Now, I have to listen to the deluded Lolo in the making,” Amaka said as she rolled her eyes. “How I would laugh when the prince chooses someone other than one of us?” Amaka said calmly but with humour and distaste underlined in every word she said.
“Would you really?” Oluchi stopped walking aimlessly and asked.
“Would I really what?” Amaka asked back.
“Would you really laugh and be alright with it if the prince chose someone other than you?” Oluchi asked clearly.
Amaka stopped dancing and turned to look at Oluchi. She smirked.
“I’m hoping that things would not turn out that way. Preparation always meets opportunity,” she said.
“Hmm,” Oluchi responded. She knew Amaka and she knew that nothing would stand between her and what she wanted; not even friendship. Oluchi saw Efé frown at the statement that Amaka just made.
“Preparation meets opportunity indeed,” Efé said with a knowing smile.
How very interesting, Oluchi thought.
“There is a huge possibility that the prince will not marry the both of you,” Oluchi said sarcastically.
“Why you exclude yourself from this?” Efé asked Oluchi.
“Simple. I am not as obsessed with the prince as you are,” she said.
Oluchi shook her head and looked at both girls and said, “Every soul on this earth has a partner and these souls will find one another no matter what. If the soul you search for does not belong to you, it will ‘never’ be yours. Do you understand?”
“I understand your words of wisdom but as I said, “Preparation always meets opportunity.”” Amaka said.
“Whatever you do or have already done, be careful about it.” Oluchi said. “I shall take my leave now; it’s getting late and tomorrow is a going to be a long day. Till tomorrow,” Oluchi said as she waved goodbye.
“Till tomorrow,” they said and went inside the hut.
By: Adwoa G. Darko