After a while, I’m back with a new series I’ve titled Oyinade. Without giving too much away, the series tells the story of a good-natured princess (Oyinade) who finds herself in unexpected circumstances, the intricacies of her history and the powers she encounters. As I said on my Facebook page, Oyinade is a character you will worry about, she’s about to be your new friend! I trust that you will love this story.
Thank you for being here, and a special thank you to everyone who sent me a personal message just to see if I was doing all right. I truly appreciate you all.
For clarity’s sake, this is NOT A FREE STORY, I will post some here and then put the rest up for sale.
“Do you fear anything father?”
King Adegbite, king of Iluope watched his eldest daughter intently. Oyinade, third of his twelve children had always held a special place in his heart. Her honey-complexioned smooth skin was a perfect combination of her mother’s fair skin and his very dark own. Her oval face had been marked slightly, the scar highlighting the darkness of her lips, which she presently pursed in deep concentration. Three weeks ago she turned seventeen and he recognized sadly, that in no time she would be married to Oyeleke, the son of his right hand chief, Oyemakin.
“Do you fear anything father?” she asked again.
Oyinade knew to refer to him as “king” but she rarely adhered to this tradition, and it was perhaps the reason why she was his favorite child. She, unlike his other children, saw him more as her father than her king. Right from when she was a toddler, she had created a special place in his heart, a space that only she could fill. Theirs was an unusual relationship, King Adegbite loved this young woman and everyone knew it. She in turn took full advantage of this relationship, asking questions and probing into the depths of his royal mind.
He sighed, leaned back in his chair and stroked his strong jaw.
“Do I fear anything? A king is not supposed to fear anything… but I do.”
“What do you fear the most?”
“Why do you ask me such a question?”
She shrugged, not taking her eyes off him. “I want to know.”
He stared into space, saying nothing for a while. “I fear that my fathers’ reign would be destroyed with me.”
“It’s the deepest fear of every king. We hope that things won’t go wrong in our reign and that we would do better than our fathers.”
“Why do you think you might fail, you’re doing well. The people love you.”
He smiled. “Yes, they do.”
“Then there is nothing to fear.”
He smiled again. “What do you fear the most?”
She looked down at her hands. “I can’t tell you.”
“You’re not a woman, you wouldn’t understand.”
“Is it about your marriage?”
She sighed. “What if he doesn’t make me happy father?”
“And why wouldn’t he? He knows whose daughter you are, he has no choice but to make you happy.”
“But I want him to make me happy because he wants to, not because I’m your daughter.”
The king laughed. “Which is more important, being happy or his reasons?”
Again she sighed. “Mother says that men change.”
“Women do too. It’s how a husband and wife respond to the change that matters. Did she tell you that?”
She shook her head.
“I’m not surprised.” He replied smugly. “Let your mind be at ease, you’re a princess. You will always be happy in his house.”
It was late in the afternoon, men and boys trudged from the farm, hoes slung on one shoulder, buba on the other. The women and girls followed, carrying baskets of farm produce, looking as exhausted as their male counterparts. A man and his wife were also on their way back from the farm. The man walked ahead, his darkened skin glistening in the blazing sun. His wife trailed carrying a basket of vegetables and fresh meat wrapped in leaves on her head. She waddled under the weight of her burden as she struggled to place her hand on her thick waist to steady herself, her swollen abdomen was remarkably big. Her buba stuck to her sweaty skin and she panted heavily.
Oyinade and her friends had just returned from the market where they had gone to purchase new beads for themselves. As they walked, talking animatedly about the wedding ceremony that would take place at the Otun’s compound, they came upon this couple. The princess couldn’t take her eyes off the woman who was barely enduring the journey.
“Good day,” she said to her.
“Good day princess,” the woman managed a wobbly courtesy, keeping her eyes averted.
“Let me help you to carry your basket.”
She reached for the load on her head and made to put it on her head when the husband hastily grabbed the basket.
“Abomination princess! Royalty shouldn’t carry the burdens of peasants.”
“And a heavily pregnant woman shouldn’t carry such a load while her able-bodied husband strolls ahead.”
The man received the message swiftly and placed the basket on his head.
“Thank you princess.”
“I’ll follow you home…”
“There’s no need princess, I promise on my mother’s grave that she will no longer carry this load.”
“But what about tomorrow? Perhaps you should let me know when you will be on your way back from the farm so that I can help her.”
The man smiled, hearing the unspoken commandment of the princess.
“She will be well-taken care of princess.”
“Then, I am glad.”
She handed them some cowries from the folds in her wrapper and bade them good bye. The woman looked back at her and nodded slightly. Her friends Olabisi, the dark-skinned plump beauty who was the daughter of Akinrinade, the chief warrior, and Romoke, the fair-skinned curvaceous teenage girl who was the daughter of the Otun and soon to be her sister-in-law, looked at her astonished at her audacity.
“Oyinade,” Labisi said, “I don’t think you should have interfered in their affairs.”
“Yes,” Romoke agreed. “What if the man was offended?”
“That is of little importance to me. Tell me, what if you were in the woman’s shoes wouldn’t you have prayed for relief?”
The girls raised both hands, turned it over their heads and tapped their fingers.
“That can never be me!” Olabisi cried.
“How can you even say such a thing?” Romoke yelled.
Oyinade couldn’t understand how her friends could be so unsympathetic. “So you don’t want to live her life but you think that I’m interfering in her affairs because I helped her? We can’t be unfeeling just because they are poor.”
“It is not our fault that she is married to a wicked and poor man that cannot take care of her. She should pray to be born into a wealthy home in her next lifetime.” Romoke hissed and grabbed Olabisi’s arm. “Look, let’s go and get our new clothes from Iya Abefe. The prince of Ilugbo is coming for the wedding.”
“Yes, I heard. My mother is going to make sure that he has eyes only for me at the wedding.”
“Olabisi! Why do you like men so much?” Romoke cried in mock anger.
“I don’t like men, I’m merely looking out for my interest. I’m going to marry a worthy man.”
Oyinade looked at her friends amused, she had other plans. “Well, you can go to Iya Abefe’s house. I’m going to see Iya Adigun.”
“Iya Adigun?” Romoke asked bewildered. “Why are you so concerned about that old witch?”
“She’s not a witch, she’s just a very quiet woman. She’s suffered a lot.”
“And what is your business with her life?” Romoke yelled. “You’re not going to be the king of this land, so you don’t have to pretend to care for people. Your brothers will…”
“Wait, you think that I’m being kind because I want to be king?”
“Why else are you willing to spend time with a haggard, smelly, old woman?” Olabisi queried.
“Because I care about her…”
Olabisi folded her arms around her ample bosom. “And you want to go in the direction of the forest all by yourself?”
“I’m a princess, nothing can happen to me.”
Romoke slapped Olabisi’s arm lightly. “Let’s go, she’s the princess, nothing can happen to her. We ordinary people have to be home on time.”
Oyinade was baffled. “Romoke, why are you angry?”
Romoke didn’t reply, she dragged Olabisi by the hand and led her away.
Oyinade stood in front of Iya Adigun’s hut with a tuber of yam she had bought from a homeward bound farmer. Iya Adigun’s entire immediate family had mysteriously died one after the other, twelve years ago. No man wanted to marry her afterwards and her family denounced her. She became stigmatized, mothers warned their children not to talk to her or collect anything from her. Her friends pretended not to hear her knocking on their doors, or turned around and walked away from her when they saw her approaching. Full of shame and bitterness, she had banished herself to the outskirts of the town, content to be alone than suffer the reproach of others.
Oyinade had first encountered her at the initiation ceremony of marriageable maidens, when they had been asked to gather three essential herbs from the forest. Iya Adigun had been lying on the ground, her foot caught in a trap and bleeding. The woman had stared at her defiantly, as if steeling herself for whatever harsh treatment she would mete out. But the young girl had helped her out of the trap and led her out of the forest. Instead of thanking her however, the woman had shrugged her off when they got to the path that led to her hut.
Oyinade had since been to her hut twice, both visits had ended up with her being chased away. Still she went to see her because the woman never left her mind. She wondered how she could live alone, and how she fed. There was a mysteriousness about the woman that bothered her.
“Iya, it’s me, Oyinade. I came to see how you are doing… I brought a tuber of yam…”
She looked around the hut, afraid of being stoned or meeting a similar fate.
I must never come here again! She thought to herself.
“Iya… can I come in?”
Still no response. And then it occurred to her that the woman might be dead, what if she had been dead for days and stinking? She would need help from the palace guard to at least give her a decent burial. She turned away from the hut on the way back to the town when she heard a voice beside her.
“Why do you come here?”
She shrieked and jumped, turning to see Iya Adigun seated in the bush just beside her. She sat on a large stone with her legs wide apart, her elbows resting on her skinny thighs.
“Don’t you know that it is dangerous for you to wander so far away from the safety of the palace?”
“I brought you a tuber of yam.”
She held out the yam and looked into the woman’s eyes, begging her to see that she had no ill will towards her.
“That is a large tuber of yam. Where did you steal it from?”
“I didn’t steal it! I bought it for you, from a farmer… on the way here!”
“You are Oyinade aren’t you?”
“You’re wondering how I know you.” She laughed, it sounded like the crackling of burning wood. “I know everyone and everything that is going on in Iluope.”
Oyinade took a few steps closer to her. “Why do you stay here?”
“Why do you come here?”
“I worry about you. How do you eat?”
The woman gave her a cold look. “Leave this place.”
“I’m sorry…” Oyinade said confused, wondering what had prompted the sudden harshness.
“I said leave this place!” she yelled, grabbing a cutlass that had been lying at her feet.
As Oyinade returned to the palace, she saw the guards ahead of her. Five of them, brandishing cutlasses and spears.
“Princess! Why did you go to the forest all by yourself? Do you want the king to behead us?” Their leader said angrily.
“What is the matter?”
“The king has told us to bring you home immediately.”
“All right.” She replied, confident that her father would take sides with her.
At the palace, seated on his throne, King Adegbite was tapping his foot restlessly.
“My Lord, we found her not too far from Iya Adigun’s hut…” The head of the palace guards informed the king, prostrating before him along with his counterparts.
“Excuse us.” The King said sharply.
Oyinade was on her knees, she kept her head down, wondering why her father was so agitated.
“How did you know that woman’s hut?”
“I helped her…”
“You did what?!” He roared, jolting out of his chair and towering over her.
Oyinade dared not look up at him, yet she wondered what was really going on. Why was her father acting strange, he had never been this angry with her before.
“What did you talk about?”
“We didn’t say anything… she chased me away from her hut.”
He paced the floor, breathing heavily and clicking his tongue.
“Don’t ever let me hear that you went to that woman’s hut again! Do you hear me?”
“Yes your highness.”
His frown softened, he loved this girl too much.
“That woman is evil, She‘s not someone you should be talking to, not you.”
That night as Oyinade slept she dreamt of the woman. She had a calabash in her hand and held it out to her.
“Come and see…!” she said.