Eight Years Later…..
The elders were seen staring at Igwe Ofordili face. They were being summoned by him by his guards at the first cock crows.
Igwe Ofordili: (Taking a deep breath) My elders I greet you all once again.
All Elders: Igwe may your days be long.
Igwe Ofordili: I have been having sleepless nights and endless thoughts concerning my only son Jidenna. For eight years I have tried all the remedies and rituals from all the whole chief priests that I had invited to come and heal my son, but none worked. (Heaved out a sad sigh) I don’t know what else to do again that’s why I summoned you all here. What should I do since nothing seems to be working?
Elder Udo: Igwe eeee, we all seated here (pointing at the remaining elders) were here when those chief priests from various villages came. You’d performed the rituals right but still yet no change in Jidenna.
Elder Okeke: And to top it all, Jidenna’s condition seem to increase every time any of the chief priests asks you to perform a ritual.
Elder Okafor: You are right Mazi Okeke, right now Jidenna cannot walk nor can he stand. He stays in one place, It’s as if the forces behind his aliment doesn’t want us to heal him.
Onowu: That is true, but we have to keep trying. Jidenna is the heir apparent to the throne, we can not sit and fold our arms and watch the crown prince die slowly, mbanu (no).
Elder Okeke: Exactly Onowu, my own question is, where is the great chief priest of all the whole villages, he could have made his appearance since eight years ago but up to now, no sign of him.
Igwe Ofordili: It makes me wonder if I had offended him in any way in the past. If I had, he should come and tell me right to my face instead of not showing himself.
Elder Okafor: Since we have no solution, what can we do?
Onowu: If only the strange bird didn’t take Amaka away and she was beheaded as tradition demands, perhaps Jidenna would have been normal again.
Elder Okeke: But since it didn’t happen, we should still hope on the gods to do a miracle.
Elder Udo: We will keep on waiting and hoping until the gods finally remember us. But if that didn’t happen, Adapuruche will have to get married to a man from a reputable home who will become the next Igwe.
Igwe Ofordili: I still believe the gods has a reason for keeping silence over my son predicament. Only the gods knows why it is like this.
At that moment Cheta who had grown taller and slender with nice curves was seen entering the palace with firewood in her hand. Her fair complexion was out of the world, apart from her twisted face, her whole body was very beautiful and neat. She greeted the elders and her father and some of the elders answered her with their nose others ignored her, especially her father.
Ever since the day the strange bird which came to take Amaka away happened, Cheta has been turned into a fully slave. She was never referred to as ‘Princess Cheta’ by the palace maids but by her name. She was mocked and insulted by the maids and the Igwe or his wife doesn’t seem to be bothered by it. The only person who would caution the maids was Adapuruche but still yet that didn’t change their attitude towards Cheta.
Cheta was already used to the elders and her father behaviour so she just smiled and continued walking straight to the palace kitchen. She dropped the firewood and was about to leave the kitchen when the Palace Cook stopped her.
Palace Cook: (Standing at a distance) Hey maid, have you filled all the pots in the kitchen?
Cheta: Yes, I have filled the whole pots in the kitchen.
Palace Cook: Good, what about the firewood?
Cheta: Just finished fetching the firewood that will be used for the week.
Palace Cook: And what about the used plates? Did you wash all the plates the royal household and the maids and palace guards used last night?
Cheta: Yes I washed it all last night.
Palace Cook: Take your smelling self out of the kitchen ozigbo (fast).
Cheta walked out of the kitchen and headed for her hut, but she changed her mind and instead went to Jidenna’s hut.
Entering inside the hut, she saw her step brother laid on his bamboo bed, he wasn’t moving. The only movable thing in his body was his eyes. He was more mature now and even though in his present state, his handsomeness wasn’t hidden.
Cheta smiled at him and went to sit on the little space in the bamboo bed, touching his cheek lovely.
Cheta: I know you didn’t eat last night, the palace cook will bring your breakfast soon. Please you have to eat to gain your strength and make me happy inugo?
Jidenna only blinked his eyes to tell her he heard her and has given his word he will eat.
Cheta: I have to go to my hut now before your mother thinks I am here to cause you more pain. I will come again.
She leaned forward to kiss his forehead and left the hut for hers.
Coming outside she saw Adapuruche and her maids heading towards her direction, she probably came to see her brother like she did.
Adapuruche has grown into a beautiful dark skin lady and has won the hearts of so many with her charming smile, eyes and good character.
Adapuruche: (smiled at Cheta) Hello Cheta.
Cheta: (Shining her almost 32 white teeth) You talked to me again and even say my name. I am so happy.
Adapuruche: Why won’t I call the name of my sister and talk to you, and why are you always doing as if you’ve won an award when I talk to you?
Cheta: You are the only one who talks to me without a frown on your face. You don’t always speak to me but the few times you did makes me glad.
Adapuruche: (Smiling the more) I promise to always be talking to you everytime.
Queen Amara: (Who had been listening to their entire conversation from her hut walked out) You won’t do such a thing just because I allow you to fly doesn’t mean you will perch on any tree Adapuruche. Do you want to mingle with this disgusting ugly girl and allow her to infect your unborn children with ugliness?
All through the years Amara has gotten married to Igwe Ofordili, she hasn’t age. She still looks young and beautiful. She was often referred to as the most beautiful dark skin Queen in all villages. People who don’t know her well often mistake her as the elder sister or twin sister of Adapuruche because of their almost resemblance.
Adapuruche: Mama, you are talking as if Cheta is not my younger sister.
Queen Amara: Shut up that mouth of yours before I do that for you. Cheta come here right now (Cheta quickly close the gap between them and bow her head in greeting. As she raised her head, Queen Amara slapped one side of Cheta’s face very hard that her mouth was cut and blood started gushing out. Ever since that night the strange man had appeared to her and warn her, she hasn’t summon her mother again, because the Strange man only appears whenever she contact her mother. But that didn’t stop her from being extremely wicked towards Cheta.) Have I not warned you never to speak to my daughter again?
Cheta: (Holding the side of her cheek that was slapped) I am sorry Mama, I got carried away and forgot. It won’t happen again.
Another slap landed on the other cheek.
Queen Amara: Have I not warn you never to call me Mama, I am not your evil mother who made my son to be what he is. Do not ever in your miserable life call me your mother. Am I understood?
Cheta: (Holding her two painful cheeks) Yes, I won’t try that again.
Queen Amara: Good, now leave my presence this minute and do not enter that hut of yours. Get out of the palace, I don’t want to see your disgusting and smelling presence.
Cheta nodded her head and quickly left their presence leaving the palace.
Adapuruche: Mama I don’t like the way you are mistreating Cheta, I don’t like it at all. Change before the gods of this land remember you for treating Cheta like an animal. (She entered her brothers hut before her mother would spit out a word)
Queen Amara: I don’t blame you Adapuruche, just thank your stars ( With that she entered her hut, not without hissing loudly.)
Cheta entered the forest that wasn’t far from the palace, that’s the place she normally stays whenever the queen tells her she doesn’t want to see her presence.
She stopped when she saw the wooden statue of a man and went to sit on the ground beside the statue.
Cheta: (Turn her gaze to the statue) Hi, it’s me again, sorry for invading your privacy like I always do, I just need someone to talk to. (She started telling the statue what happened and her reason for being there)
She had met the statue a year ago in the forest when she went to look for firewood. It was covered with bushes and thorns and was almost half buried in the sand.
Immediately her hands touched the Wooden statue, thunder strike from above.
At first she had thought it was a big wood and was thinking of how to cut it but when she brought the wooden statue out of the sand, she instantly fall in love with it and clean it up, and ever since then, she found herself always talking about her ordeals with the Wooden statue.
Cheta: I must have always worn you out with my boring stories. You won’t blame me, no one talks to me in the palace. I’m always alone, though I still have my step brother and sister. I just wish someone will fall down from the sky to take me out
of here. (Getting up to her feet) I have to go back and sneak into my hut without my step mother knowledge. I will be back later in the day to tell you more stories of the cunning Mbe (tortoise).
With that she left.
Thunder and lightning started striking in the sky as heavy rain began to fall.
The wooden statue started changing into a human 30 minutes later the transformation was completed and a handsome dark man with black long Dada (dreadlocks) was standing in the place of the Wooden statue.
He was wearing animal skin and was staring around him in surprise.
The Strange Man: (shouted with joy) I am free at last! (He tried to move one of his legs to be sure he could move, he moved, he shouted to the sky) Thank you! (Now, he has to find the lady who has set him free).
To Be Continued….
C.H.E.T.A ( I Am Not Ugly)