By Amah’s Heart.
She spread out the soft asoke over her legs.
It was one of the gifts her father brought back to her from his numerous traveling.
she has alot of beautiful things that other maiden do not have.
Not even her elder sister Adaugo can compete with her possessions.
Maybe it comes with the advantage of being well endowed with beauty that many people will kill and die for.
Her father was also a traveler who deals in fabrics and he was wealthy and never fails to return home with different gifts for her.
She stands out among other maiden and none of them could even compete with her, her beauty can make the men to hold a wrestling contest on her behalf to see who is strong enough to win her heart.
But she was not moved even if they decided to kill their selves.
She was very beautiful and needs a handsome, wealthy prince to marry not just any kind of man.
The sound of a village town crier could be heard from a distance halting Olamma from her sweet thought.
She listened to know exactly what the man was announcing.
The village town crier usually go about in the night when everyone has retired to their bed or whenever dinner is being served so that his message could be well passed across and everyone can hear and listen to whatever information he carries.
“Ko….ko…ko…ko! The eke market day is coming after the first sight of the moon light, it will be a day for all the youths in the village to come out and gather under the big kolanut tree at the market square. the igwe has requested for a contest to mark the first moonlight. There will be different games played. the young men will participate in wrestling match, the maiden will grace the occasion with a dance and a beautiful parade. The igwe has promised to reward the winners with different gifts. Failure to attend will attract a fine. This is a message from the igwe. Ko…ko…ko…ko!
Olamma sat up from her bed as the town crier moves to another location with same message from the igwe.
She stood up and and went her golden lamp stand, one of the treasure her father got for her.
She turned up the lamp and moved it close to a silver mirror hanging on the moulded earth wall.
Not many maiden can afford a mirror but her father bought the mirror for her during his visit to the big city.
The city he said was filled with merchants who has come to sell their wares, traders and buyers looking for a bargain.
Her father has seen it and knew his beautiful daughter will love it.
He bought it and it was carefully wrapped up for him.
He brought it home and gave it to Olamma who marveled at the decorated shining glass which reviewed how much of a great beauty she was.
She has positioned it in her room and stare into the mirror all day long, staring at her beautiful self and marveled how much of a great princess she would have being if she was born in the palace to a king.
But since she wasn’t a princess, she was even beautiful than the princess. She knows someday she will become a queen of a big palace and rule like she felt destined to do.
So many thoughts crossed her mind and she smiled into the mirror.
With the help of the burning oil lamp she can see herself clearly.
The message the village town crier just passed across will make her search out for one of her fine wrappers or ask her father to get her something new again.
She later selected one of her fine wrappers which she will use for the occasion and took it to her mirror stand.
She hanged it on her shoulder as she imagined how she will make head to turn that day and almost all eyes will be on her.
Olamma lifted the lamp to her face, trying to see her beautiful self more clearly but suddenly the hotness of the lamp burnt her hand and she quickly dropped it to the ground. The oil spilled over the place and the lamp shattered to the ground.
Olamma screamed as fire from the lamp caught up with the oil that spilled on the floor causing a fire.
The wrapper she selected fell to the ground and was consumed by fire.
Her mother rushed in with her father and quickly put out the fire before it could go up and destroy more things.
Olamma was crying for her skin that almost got damaged from the hotness of the fire and also for her wrapper that she planned to use for the upcoming occasion which was already half bunt.
She refused to listen to her father who promised her another lamp and more wrappers.
Her parents couldn’t sleep as they all kept virgil for their beautiful daughter, consoling her and making sure she was calm enough till day break.
Adaugo was asked to go and tidy up her younger sister’s room.
Without complaining, she did just as she was asked to do while Olamma sat outside the house entertaining her friends that came to visit her.
Oby and Nneka are always seen in Olamma’s company.
Olamma was willing to feed them with any latest gifts her father returns back with for her.
Oby was the first to remind Olamma about the village town crier’s message.
“Mma, the message said there will be gifts for the winners…
Olamma quickly interrupted her.
“I know, I heard everything that the town crier announced. the gifts are coming to me. Who else is as beautiful as I am in this village??…
Olamma boast in front of her friends.
“…no other maiden should compete with me because I’m far beautiful and endowed than every one of them put together. Did you know my room was almost caught with fire yesterday? The wrapper I selected for the occasion was ruined but father promised to get me another one before the event day. The stupid fire almost damaged my fine spotless skin…
Nneka was irritated by every of Olamma’s pride, unlike Oby who enjoyed Olamma’s company.
Nneka, who couldn’t hide her displeasure anymore spoke up.
“Mma, you are only worried about your fine skin rather than the chaos that you would have brought upon your family. what if the whole house was razed down by fire and caused more damage, what would you have done? I guess you won’t be sitting down here and glorying over your beauty and how you will win the coming contest. Mma, you are not the Only beautiful girl in this village… stop acting like no other maiden exist except you. Don’t be surprised that you may end up losing in the contest. What do you even do in the house except to admire your beauty while Adaugo, your elder sister does all the work. She fetches water from the stream and wood from the farm, Adaugo cooks and cleans up the house while you do nothing. You are too lazy and considering the fact that you will become somebody’s wife and a mother someday, I fear for what your future will become…
Olamma stood up angrily and slapped Nneka across the face and she fell back from the strike she received from Olamma.
“I will not have you talk to me anyhow. You dares not insult me with that ugly mouth of yours. I’m far too beautiful to have any maiden challenge me. I will win the contest and also marry a handsome prince, there will be servants at my every needs. Deal with that bitter truth because it will definitely happen.
Oby stood beside Olamma and said.
“Mma, please is okay. Don’t mind Nneka, she is only jealous of you. She wish to be like you but is unfortunate that she can never be you…
Nneka stood up and left and Olamma warned her not to ever come close to her again.
That was how their friendship ended.
Oby acted like a good friend by telling Olamma every gossip she hears about her.
The eke day finally came, Olamma takes her time to dress up in the new wrapper her father bought for her before leaving with Oby, her close friend.
By Amah’s Heart.
“Hey…Ada wait! where are you going?
Her mother asked her as she saw her first daughter all dressed and leaving the house for the moonlight celebration.
“Ah mama… I’m going for to the market square for the moonlight celebration. Olamma has gone with her friends since when I was still cooking and now I’m done with everything I’m doing and set for the…
Her mother interrupted.
“I thought you are supposed to take the dirty cloths to the river for washing. Some of Olamma’s used cloths are piled up in her room.
“Mama, the cloths can wait till tomorrow biko. If I don’t attend, the umuala youth will storm our compound to collect fine. You know failure to go will attract a fee. Beside mama, when is Olamma going to start doing things by herself. I can’t be her servant forever… even though I’m used to the house chores and is totally nothing to me but Olamma needs to learn too. I won’t be with her forever…
Her mother laughed sarcastically before replying Adaugo.
“Olamma bu akwa ndu. (Olamma is Uncooked egg) she is very fragile and her skin is nnyo (glass mirror) that can easily be broken. Is not her fault that she is the most beautiful maiden in this village. Mmadu nile mara si na nwam Olamma mara mma nke ukwu u. (Everybody knows that my daughter Olamma is very beautiful) and I know she will attract suitors faster than you. Not ordinary suitors but men from Royal background. Olamma doesn’t suppose to suffer, she is too beautiful for chores. While you on the other hand resemble your father even though your father will always argue with me that you took after me. But is Olamma that took after me. You probably resemble one of your old late grannies…
Adaugo did not feel bad with what her mother was saying.
She was used to it and never allows anything to bother her.
“Mama anugom, Biko Kam ga soro umu agbogo ibem gbara egwu maka mbuta onwa mbu. ( Mama I have heard, please let me go and join other maiden like me and dance for the celebration of the new moon.)
She turned and left her mother.
Olamma was indeed the live of the party as she led other maiden in dance and parade.
So many people marvel at her beauty and the way she move her waist gracefully.
She made many heads to turn and stare.
Some even said that her beauty was from the river, some say she looks like a goddess.
Even as the men admires her none has the courage to approach her, for they have heard and seen she was very arrogant and disrespectful both to the young and old.
The men kept their distance from her.
Olamma, Just as she has wanted won the maiden parade another maiden emerged as the dance winner.
They all received their different gifts just as the igwe promised them.
Olamma was given a decorated bead and expensive wrapper.
After becoming the parade winner her pride was doubled up as many maiden want to associate with her.
Even Nneka wanted to go and make peace with her but changed her mind from doing that because Olamma may end up insulting and embarrassing her.
Adaugo continued in her duties without Olamma’s help.
She had tried to talk to Olamma in helping her out with some of the house chores, like cleaning her room in the morning, fetching water or even assist in making food so that she will learn how to cook but Olamma never pays her attention.
She does whatever pleases her and refused to be cautioned by anyone.
As time flies suitors began to come for her and Adaugo her elder sister.
But Olamma insulted any man that comes to ask her hand in marriage.
If you are not a king or prince she will become very rude and insult who ever comes her way.
While Adaugo was looking out for a hard-working man, who can cultivate the soil and bring fort farm products.
A man who is kind, humble and who will take care of her and their children when the gods bless them.
Olamma was busy looking out for a handsome prince charming who will take her to a palace and she will become the queen of a big kingdom.
The two sisters knew what they wanted in a man and silently wish the gods will grant their desires.
And the gods were also busy listening and watching…
By Amah’s Heart.
Different men came to seek Olamma’s hand in marriage.
Some traveled far and near to marry the most beautiful girl whom they have heard so much about.
Among the suitors were palm wine tapper, hunters, farmers, traders, fishermen and few others with the same intention.
None of them fit perfectly into the type of man she wanted.
They came with different gifts for Olamma and her father but as expected they were turned down.
The hunter came with his son repeatedly because the hunter’s son has fallen in love with Olamma.
He pleaded with his father to help him out so that he can get his desirable woman.
His father came with different gifts pleading with his son as they asked Olamma’s father to consider them
“Listen to me mazi, how do you think my beautiful daughter will consider your son into marriage? Eeh!…kwamu mazi (tell me mazi) I don’t like you coming here often and on with all this cheap gifts. Respect yourself and remain in your wretched level. Aririo Kam na ario. A biana ulom ozo(I’m begging you, please don’t come to my compound again)
They were still talking when Olamma came out of the house furious.
“Mazi, you heard my father clearly. Never you show your poverty looking face here again. If you have a daughter like me, that is as beautiful as the morning sun will you allow her to marry a son like yours? Mbanu (no) the answer remain clearly no. What can your son offer me? What is the good thing he can do for me?
The hunter’s son spoke out.
” Olamma biko, please. I don’t have many luxury to give to you but I sincerely love you from my heart and I will make sure that you will never lack anything nice. I will take good care of you and make you happy for the rest of my life with you. I promise you Olamma. I’m a hard-working young man and you really have nothing to worry about. I love you Olamma, please consider my offer…biko.
Olamma suddenly threw a spit in front of them, waving her hand over her head and shouting “,may the gods forbid…”
Such act angered mazi, the young man’s father and he quickly stood up and asked his son to do the same.
Olamma saw her opportunity and started insulting them.
Her father did nothing to stop his daughter abusive words that she was raining on the visitors.
Mazi angrily left with his heart broken son.
More suitors came and Olamma’s father allowed his daughter to insult them all.
A prince came for her but Olamma complained that he was a poor prince because he did not come with enough gifts.
She also complained that the prince was not as handsome as she wanted.
The prince was about going when he saw Adaugo carrying a pot of water on her head and coming back from the stream.
Adaugo greeted the visitors cheerfully before going in to drop her pot of water and prepare for the night food.
The prince watch Adaugo silently as he began walking away from their compound without saying another word.
After two weeks the prince came back again.
“Why are you here again eeh? My most beautiful daughter said she will never marry you. Go back and marry one of the maidens from your village.
Olamma’s father said to the prince.
Olamma came out of the house again and said.
“I guess there is no beautiful maiden…as beautiful as I am in your entire kingdom that was why you came back. You are not even a wealthy prince or even handsome as I want. Take a good look at yourself, looking like a dejected hunter. I will never ever consider you even in my dreams not to talk of physical. You are not worthy to be my husband. Go and look for your type. I, Olamma, akwa mma, achariugo nwanyi, onye olisa bi na elu tere mmanu mma can never consider your offer. (She went on praising herself with different beautiful name)
Her father was feeling proud of his daughter as he watched on.
Olamma’s mother was clapping and supporting her daughter as she disgrace their guest.
Adaugo felt bad as she listened to her sister’s arrogance boast from the backyard house where she was making fire.
She had been warned by her parents to stay away from Olamma’s affairs after she tried to shun her bad behavior to suitors.
Her parents wanted Olamma to marry before her because of the house errands.
If she leaves the house nobody will fetch the fire wood from the farm or water from the stream.
Nobody will wash and tidy up the house.
Nobody will cook the meal or go to the market.
Olamma was out of doing chores, except if her mother decided to help out.
But for now the burden of taking care of chores is wholy on her and she can’t complained over that.
While Olamma talk down on the prince and the people that came with him.
The prince spoke, halting her from her prideful speech.
“Olamma, you are quiet a beauty to behold, no doubt. i heard about you and decides to travel all the way down and I must say I’m more disappointed than what I heard. You are a maiden with no manners at all. No home upbringing, no respect for others. There is nothing about you to take home and I’m glad I found something far more better. I returned back for your sister… I don’t know what she might be in this household but I came back for her. The last time I was here, she was coming back from the stream and greeted us before walking past into the house. So after two weeks of giving this a deep thought I returned for her. If she find me appealing to marry me then I will make her the queen of not only my kingdom but also my heart. And I kindly plead that nobody holds back this big request from me.
Adaugo who was coming out of the backyard over heard everything and
gave a heavy sigh.
She has always wanted a strong humble farmer as a husband and not a prince.
But listening to the prince, she knew deep down that he was sincere.
Maybe her chi (god) decided give her something different for a man.
She can hear her father and mother arguing with the prince and saying their second daughter must marry before the first.
She can also hear Olamma saying that her sister wants to marry a farmer and not a prince.
Olamma asked the prince to leave because Adaugo will never marry him.
The prince insisted on seeing Adaugo but her parents did not call her out.
They were still talking when Adaugo came out unannounced.
She looked from the prince to her father and back at Olamma who was acting like her unsolicited mouth piece.
“Papa, I overheard everything and I should have a say too not just Olamma. Without wasting further time here my answer to his request is Yes. I will marry him. He may not fall in line with the kind of man you want for Olamma and Olamma also made it clear with her numerous insults but he falls into mine. I’m done being a servant to Olamma…mama can take over with the chores until Olamma’s dream man comes along. But just in case he doesn’t come, i suggest Olamma should take a wet sand and mud him herself. Nobody have ever cared about me or my feelings in this house but that is all changing because I will no longer be your responsibility Papa. I’m going to marry the young man here and I don’t care about anybody’s negative opinion on how I need to wait for Olamma to marry before me. I’m done waiting because all she does is to insult and disgrace the suitors that comes for her. I wonder how long that will last but is no longer my business. Papa, is you and Mama’s business.
Adaugo was determined and did not allow her parents or her younger sister’s insult to deter her.
After a week the prince came with different gifts and with more kinsmen and marry Adaugo.
He was very happy and couldn’t hide his Joy.
Adaugo was also happy as she waved goodbye to her people and follow her husband home.
The new kingdom welcomed her. They celebrated with a great feast. Dancing and making merry.
Adaugo felt at home.
She no longer do the things she used to do before because their were servants at her every needs.
The prince loves her and she also loved the prince and within a year the gods blessed them with a child.
There was another great celebration.
Olamma kept waiting for her own prince charming and she did stop Insulting suitors that comes for her.
Her mother was now the one taking care of the house chores ever since Adaugo Left.