It is well known that love brushes past each one of us at different moments and varied intervals of our lives. If you’re lucky enough and the affection is mutual, the love experience is then shared by “the one”. Well, at least, that is the hope.
Finding “the one” can be the most grueling journey that tests patience above all else.
It is no different for a Princess. An Igbo Princess for that matter. A busy one.
I have a story to tell you, so let me tell it.
O ruru otu mgbe, there was a young girl who lived with her parents in a mud hut. Now, this mud hut was no ordinary mud hut. It had been constructed by the entire village years back, and only members of the royal family were permitted to live there.
You guessed it. This story is about a Princess, and her name is Chinyere.
Chinyere lived in her royal mud hut with her mother and father. For many years, she was sheltered and rarely ever left the compound. Being the only child of her parents, they protected and nurtured her. They taught her well.
She was gifted with such beauty that when she became of age, the suitors began to disturb their peace. She turned away suitors who had traveled from far away towns and countries just to share a bowl of ofe. Supported by her parents, she refused them all. No man was good enough for her. No man, yet!
So they waited and waited for the right man that would win their hearts and be entrusted with the hand of their little Princess.
As Chinyere grew from “little Princess” into a woman, she pursued her own interests and stayed busy. Fueled by her passion for “dressing up”, she spent countless hours teaching herself the art of textile making.
She was always tidy in her appearance, and did her best to emulate the same tidiness in her surroundings, despite the excessive shedding of sweat while sweeping under the scorching sun.
One day, a stranger to her village came into town. This stranger was tall, dark and handsome. Talks of the Princess’ beauty had spread far to his village and he had come to see for himself.
For days, he followed her keeping out of sight as he observed her with the intention of learning her ways.
Soon, and without a word exchanged, his love for her grew.
He decided that the only way he could be happy again, would be if he made her his wife. So that was his mission now. Well, as soon as he had introduced himself, of course.
The fellow’s name was Nkemdi. Rumor had it that he was the son of a Lion, the details of why will need to be told in another story.
Nkemdi decided to introduce himself one bright Sunday morning. He found his way to her compound and delighted in himself when he laid eyes on her pounding away in the kitchen.
With a boisterous, yet highly embarrassing, pep in his step he bounced up to her flaunting his rich attire, flashing his horsetail at her as he stated his name and his keen interest in her.
She laughed at him. She shunned him. They bantered. She resisted. The dramatic tug of war in playing hard ensued. No village romance is complete without it.
After much ado, with no promise of favor, he retreated for the day, and so did she. She ran indoors, telling her mother and father about the bouncing strange man with the pep in his step. They listened and soon began to make their own inquiries about this man from another land.
In the mean time, the Princess went into prayer about “the one”. “Could it be him?” she wondered without knowing how soon the answer would come.
This lion born set out another day to find the Princess. He knew it was Thursday, and she was always in the farm on this day to harvest vegetables to be sold in the Friday market.
Last week, he watched her harvest yams, and he was curious about what she would be harvesting today.
Like clock work, she was already there working and sweating.
He approached her gently. There was less of a bounce in his walk, but usual cockiness you would expect from a son of a lion was ever present.
He began to show her all of his land, pointing beyond to areas that reached beyond the eye could see. She was not impressed. At least, she pretended not to be.
He promised that it would all be hers if she would say “Yes” to him. He promised her the world, and his heart. He swore his fidelity and time to her, promising to meet her needs in all facets of her being.
Once he was done giving up himself for her, she finally said “Yes” to him and embraced him.
It hits her when she got home. She became quite pensive in her contemplation. There was little that could comfort her as the tears began to flow. Nothing besides time.
Despite the nostalgia of leaving her home forever, she takes hold of his horsetail (as it now becomes her own), and happily prepares to follow him to start a new life.
So you see, the story ends well, doesn’t it? Rather – it begins…