Wuraola scanned the royal court for her father. It wasn’t so hard to see him since he was in his constant ‘all white’ regalia sitting on his golden throne etched right in the middle of the open room. He held a black horsetail whip in one hand. Beads adorned his wrists and neck. She smiled easily as soon as she met his gaze. He gave a slight nod as if giving her permission to come to him.
“Omo Oba!” the king’s servants hailed. But she moved gracefully, brushing off the musings and gushing of the men who openly acknowledged her beauty. She stood tall at 5 ft 8. Her father had told her that she took her mother’s fair skin and brown eyes which made her look like she was born by a white woman. But her mother had been a full-fledged Yoruba woman.
Wuraola didn’t like all the attention being showered on her. And it was part of the reason she stopped her maids from tending to her except when she truly needed their help.
“Kabiyesi!” she knelt before her father and bowed. The king patted her back with his horsetail and whispered words of prayers on her.
“Sit, Wura,” he ordered, after the prayers
A smaller throne was reserved for her just beside her father’s. Ever since her mother died, 23 years ago, her father had stayed away from women like they were plagues. As she grew older, she began to hear tales about how her father loved her mother even unto death, as that was why he never took another wife.
Even though it was expected of him as the Alaafin of Oyo, and where Yoruba culture is concerned, to take another wife, he refused.
Wuraola never really knew which was worse. The fact that she was happy he didn’t re-marry due to all the terrible stories she had heard about stepmoms, or the fact that not getting married meant her father might be lonely.
All the same, he had played his role so well, she was sure her mother would be extremely proud of him. She too was proud of him and she’d do anything to make him proud of her.
Every morning, she came out to greet him and spend a little time with him before the day’s activities. This day was not going to be any different. But then,
“Princess Wura I hope you rested well during the night?” A familiar voice asked.
The smiles on Wura’s lips disappeared. A frown followed. She never knew that they weren’t alone in the courtroom. She had thought it was just her father and his servants but she was surprised when she heard the familiar voice.
What else would I be doing if not resting at night? She wanted to reply to him, but she knew better.
“Of course. I’m sure you rested well also,” She turned to look at him. Her eyes tore through the thick texture of his suit jacket, to his soul, but found nothing worth seeing there. She tore her gaze away from him. She would rather stare at the new flowery curtains the maids had put up the day before, than stare at Obajuwon’s irritating face.
Her expression should have told him, she was done with their conversation. But it didn’t seem like he got the message, or was he just bent on annoying her?
“Well, I couldn’t sleep well at night because I kept seeing someone’s face in my dreams. Guess who this someone is?” he gave a burst of long throaty laughter that irked her the more. But she was more annoyed when her father joined in his boring joke.
“I kept seeing you, my love. Which is why I came early to the palace today,” he concluded with a broad arrogant smile.
She looked him over; her eyes stopped on his chin that held stubbles. He had quite an alluring feature that should hold any woman spellbound, but Wura knew that behind his handsome face and broad lean muscles, lay an arrogant fool who relies on his father’s wealth and position as the Special Adviser to the President on South-West Issues, to bully innocent people.
He had always been proud of himself and had been using his father’s position as a yardstick to disrespect people. She had been shocked and very angry when her father announced her betrothal a month ago. Who does that in this 21st century? She thought. Little wonder why her father never wanted her to date when she was abroad.
“If you would kindly excuse me father, I have important issues to handle today,” she got up, pecked her father on the cheek, and started toward the exit while holding the tail end of her blue fitted gown. She could feel Obajuwon’s eyes on her back.
Pervert. She muttered.
“Ooh not so fast, Wura. Please wait,” her father stopped her. She turned to see he now had his eyes on their stupid visitor. “Obajuwon, have you had breakfast yet?”
“No Kabiyesi,” he replied, looking rather pleased with her father.
His response annoyed her. She would do anything than be with him in the same room. She wondered how she was going to spend forever with him if in 5 minutes she could barely stand him.
“Then let’s have brunch abi? Wura?” Kabiyesi narrowed his eyes at her.
If there was anything she hated doing, it was disrespecting her father, be it privately or publicly. She loved him so much and couldn’t bear to hurt him. Perhaps it was because he was the only parent she had. But notwithstanding, she loved him and respected him. Wura swallowed before giving a slight nod with pouty lips to her father’s proposal. She headed to the dining section, leaving a generous amount of space between her and Obajuwon.
Two hours after brunch, Wura’s father received some visitors from the President’s office. They wanted to know the challenges the Oyo people faced as regards infrastructural development, jobs, businesses, farming and what more could be done to better the lives of the people. It was an exercise that was to be carried out in every state of the federation.
Wura took the cue to leave. Her bedroom would surely be a better haven than her father’s throne room. She was passing through the large veranda when her eyes caught the beauty of the garden. She seldom visits the garden. She was told that most of the flowers were planted by her mother. But it was sad to see the flowers blossom yearly while her mother was gone. Maybe that was why she dreaded going there.
Wuraola swung around sharply, almost colliding with Obajuwon. How come he was so close to her and she didn’t know? What was he doing here? Why had he gone past the royal courtyard? All these questions threatened to spill out of her mouth at once, but his short laughter left her frowning.
“Oh! What am I doing here?” he asked with daring eyes. Wura was shocked he knew what she wanted to ask. Perhaps he read her mind?
“Wura, in just 10 months, we would be man and wife. And I would be heir to this throne and only then would I have the….”
“Only then will you have the right to come to places that aren’t meant for strangers and visitors!” she hissed. Creating space between them but Obajuwon’s right hand drew her closer to him while she squirmed in his hold.
“Why do I have a feeling that you dislike me?”
“I do not only dislike you, but I also hate you! You disgust me, Oba!”
She could see his eyes squint like he was in pain? Or shock? She didn’t care all she wanted was to get away from his disgusting hold. But he drew her closer as his lips brushed her skin.
“Princess! .. oh! I’m sorry … your highness” a female voice interrupted, causing him to quickly let go and step away from her.
Wura nodded, dismissing the compromising position she had been caught in. She would personally thank her maid later for coming to her rescue, otherwise, she would have had to scrub off Obajuwon’s despicable lips off her skin. She nodded slightly to the maid and walked off. But not once did she spare her or Obajuwon a glance, as she headed up to her chamber.
To be continued…
This is a Pelleura Story. Idea and write-up by Funmi Akintade
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