Fath£r left th£ follow!ng day on
an unexpected bus!ness venture and once aga!n I was left at th£ mercy of my
step family. Th£ afternoon my fath£r left, Agbana called me !nto h£r room wh£re
h£r daughters were gath£red as well and $h£ spoke venomous words before mak!ng
h£r conclusive statement which was because of th£ royal dance. A dance I knew
would cause a row after $h£ had put up a beautiful charade th£ previous day.
“Th£ money your greedy fath£r
gave me cannot get a beautiful costume for one person, let alone two and a half
Etewe and Eketuwana giggled. I
was th£ half person $h£ had referred to. “Moth£r, you are really funny”. Etewe
said and laugh£d.
Agbana cont!nued “so, I will add
my money to th¡s little money to get nice costumes for my beautiful girls. You
can go look for your moth£r; $h£ might have some beautiful costumes for you. Do
I tried to talk “but, th£ money
fath£r [email protected] you was bulky”
“Is $h£ talk!ng [email protected]¢k at you
moth£r?” Eketuwana asked “$h£ doesn’t have respect. A wh0l£ you moth£r! Th¡s
small th!ng is talk!ng [email protected]¢k at you and you are look!ng” Etewe hit h£r silly
sister on th£ h£ad. Eketuwana giggled for $h£ had fuelled Agbana’s anger.
“Get ©vt!” Agbana sh©vted and I
scrambled ©vt of th£ lion’s den.
Later that even!ng, I sat !n
front of th£ house and wondered what could have triggered Agbana’s latest
wicked act. As long as I was breath!ng, it was enough gun powder to make Agbana
explode. I decided to wear some old cloth£s left by my moth£r. It might not be
as beautiful as th£ ones th£ oth£r maidens will get at th£ market, but it was my
moth£r’s and it was beautiful !n my sight. Etewe and Eketuwana came ©vtside and
saw me gloomy. Th£y could be sweet at times, but th£ir evil genes constantly
got th£ better part of th£m.
Tuwana as I fondly called h£r
said to me “are you okay?” I nodded and $h£ said aga!n “Etewe and I are go!ng
to Egodi, th£ village dance mistress for th£ royal dance reh£arsals. Aren’t you
Agbana sh©vted from |ns!de th£
house “com!ng to wh£re?” Etewe and Eketu! You had better run before th£ gods
Etewe and Eketuwana took to
th£ir h£els before Agbana emerged. $h£ saw me at th£ same spot and said “royal
dance lessons are !n th£ even!ng. You won’t be able to participate because from
tomorrow, every even!ng you will sell my wares at th£ village centre. Do you
understand? Your fath£r did not leave enough for your feed!ng and you eat like
You have to work for food. That is life!”
I don’t know what possessed me,
but I talked [email protected]¢k “h£ didn’t leave money for costumes or food, what did h£
leave money for?”
“Th£ gods kill you th£re!
Idiot!” Agbana fumed. $h£ picked a broom and threw it at me. It hit me !n th£
h£ad and narrowly missed my left eye. $h£ went [email protected]¢k |ns!de. I wept bitterly
till I found no tears. I felt alone and wanted an end to my life. I didn’t ¢ar£
ab©vt any stupid royal dance. I wanted to be happy !n my fath£r’s house. I
wi$h£d Agbana would let me be.
Th£ royal dance was to be h£ld
!n two weeks and th£ village was !n a festive mood and th£re were events
0rg*nized daily that led up to th£ ma!n day. Agbana made real h£r statement of
th£ sales every even!ng at th£ village centre till th£ dance day. I watch£d
every even!ng, as Etewe and Eketu attended Egodi’s reh£arsals with my peers. I
sneaked a few times to Egodi’s place to get a glimpse of th£ girls danc!ng,
th£y were always very happy. Egodi was a true teach£r. h£r dance r©vt!nes were technical,
but wh£n $h£ danced it was effortless and wh£n $h£ taught th£ girls, th£y got
th£ steps easily except for a few naughty ones who didn’t take th£ reh£arsals
I also noticed that Etewe and Eketu readily impressed Egodi. Th£y
were a$$igned th£ role of teach!ng th£ oth£r girls. I wi$h£d I was part of th£m.
Th£ zeal to be at th£ royal dance was rek!ndled after my few trips to Egodi’s
A day to th£ dance, I bought a
beautiful bracelet at Ejike’s stand. Ejike was a nice fellow and h£ made th£
nicest bracelets !n Aloka-uto. Th£ bracelet h£ sold me was expensive, but h£
sold it to me at a give away price. h¡s reason? I was charm!ng. Wh£re did I get
th£ little money to purchase a bracelet? Well, a few customers who were
delighted at my service rewarded me accord!ngly. I hid th£ bracelet from Agbana
for I knew what $h£ was capable of do!ng. Th£ bracelet could be torn apart,
suddenly go miss!ng, da$h£d ©vt to a random person or given to h£r daughters.
It will rip my h£art to pieces. $h£ j√$t didn’t have to f!nd it and I knew how
to keep it away from pry!ng eyes.
Th£ atmosph£re at my fath£r’s
house that night was chok!ng. Agbana [email protected] stopped talk!ng ab©vt how beautiful
th£ costumes $h£ had bought for h£r daughters were. Th£y chattered all night
long and tried on th£ costumes countless times while I slept off.
Th£ next morn!ng was th£ royal
dance day. I did all my chores before Agbana and h£r daughters woke up. I guess
th£ royal spirit had caught me and I should have known better not to let it
show. I had decided to wear my moth£r’s old cloth£s and th£ beautiful bracelet
to th£ dance, until Agbana hovered over me as I sang scrubb!ng th£ floor.
“I can see you are !n a good
mood” $h£ said. I quickly stood up and greeted h£r “well, you will put your
good mood to use by go!ng to Efile town. Your fath£r wants you to deliver a
parcel to h¡s bus!ness partner”
I was shocked “but…”
“But what? S!nce you won’t be at
th£ royal dance, be useful and deliver your fath£r’s message. You will f!nd th£
parcel on th£ stool !n th£ parlor. I guess your fath£r knew that th£ royal
dance was not meant for scrawny girls like you. Please don’t disappo!nt h¡m”
$h£ said with a wolfish smile and left. I always imag!ned Agbana with two horns
like a beast, but as $h£ left th£ horns became four. Witch! I s¢r**med |ns!de.
I didn’t understand why my fath£r would want me to go to a town that gulps ten
hours on th£ road to and fro. I knew someth!ng was fishy, but I could not place
a f!ng£r on it. Th¡s ultimately meant that I would miss th£ royal dance.
Etewe and Eketu prepared for th£
royal dance while I also prepared for my long journey. Agbana, Etewe and Eketu
left th£ house after wast!ng time !n front of th£ mirror pa!nt!ng th£ir faces.
I was alone !n th£ house set and ready to leave wh£n a male visitor arrived. h£
was my fath£r’s bus!ness partner at Efile town and h£ had come to collect h¡s
“I had been expect!ng th¡s
parcel for three days and decided to get it myself” h£ said.
“I was only told ab©vt it today
and was on my way to Efile wh£n you knocked” I replied h¡m and gave h¡m th£
parcel. It hit me that my evil step moth£r had [email protected] th£ delivery of th£
parcel to th£ royal dance day, but as God would have it, h£r plan was scattered
at th£ dy!ng m!nute.
“wh£n your fath£r left my house
some days ago, h£ spoke of your beauty and said you were go!ng to be !n some
danc!ng contest” h£ said, I smiled and nodded. h£ brought ©vt a neatly wr*₱ped
dress “Ama, I know how dear you are to my friend and h£ probably gave you
enough money to get a lovely costume. Please accept th¡s dress and add to your
amaz!ng collection”. Th£ texture of th£ dress spoke quality and I hugged it
“Thank you sir” I fla$h£d my
white teeth. I wi$h£d h£ knew how happy I was, h£ was my sav!ng grace. My
knight !n sh!ny armor. My…oh! I better stop! Before leav!ng, h£ told me to s£nd
h¡s greet!ngs to Agbana which I wouldn’t do. Witch!
I got !nto my room and put on
th£ fabulous dress. It was very colourful and not because I despised my step
sisters, but th¡s dress was better than th£irs. I hadn’t seen anyth!ng like it.
!n a few m!nutes, I had thrown on th£ dress, wore a beautiful make up and
crowned it all with my beautiful bracelet. I locked th£ house and made for th£
To be cont!nued
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