For everyone who commented on the Bella Naija post, God bless you. The love and support you show me will always find you at the time you need it the most. Always.
Osun was exhausted. Whatever excitement she felt at coming to Earth to help her people had fizzled out and now she was left with a parched throat, throbbing feet and a tired body.
“Let me help you.” Esu tapped his fingers and a Horse appeared by her side in a flash, waiting for her to mount. “Climb.”
Osun eyed him, “You must be out of your mind if you actually think I would mount that unreal thing.”
“You need to learn how to trust, Osun.” Esu replied, peeved.
“I won’t start learning with you.”
“I am only trying to help here, why are you being hostile?”
And she was not sure if it was the anger or exhaustion she felt, she whirled around and pointed a finger in his face, “Because I did not ask for you to come on this journey with me! Because right now, I do not know what is real or not! Because nobody will allow us in, thanks to some ongoing war. And here I am, a goddess yet unable to convince them because I have been stripped off my powers!”
“We can use mine.”
She scoffed, “I can do without you or your shady powers.” Frustration cloaked her like a heavy coverlet made from animal skin. She was weighed down by the unforeseen hostility and shock that had met with her since she journeyed to earth from the heavens.
Drained from the antagonism of humans and the presence of her unwanted travel companion, she fought the tears that stung her eyes.
Osun broke into a violent sob and sank at the foot of a gigantic tree. She was extremely exhausted and she could not believe how difficult things had been for her since she arrived the earth.
The Hut they had walked towards the day before had belonged to a family that had been extremely hostile. Unwilling to converse with the two strangers which stood by their doorstep, they had shut the door in their faces before they could ask for help.
Osun and Esu had left, wandering for a while before deciding to find sleep anywhere nature let them.
And so they had slept near a brook, had not eaten anything and had not heard a word from Olodumare.
Osun was beginning to wonder if he hadn’t noticed one of his gods was missing.
Esu folded his arms and watched his companion sob. When she calmed down, he said to her, “Stop being stubborn and accept my help.”
“Never going to happen.”
The sound of hoofs hitting the soil startled them. Curious, Osun stood to peep a couple of soldiers, galloping towards the major road they were at.
She quickly wiped her face with the back of her hands. Waving her hands frantically, she caught the attention of the soldiers.
They slowed down, “Good morning!” Osun called with what strength was left inside of her. “We need help! Please don’t go!” then she began to wail when what she needed to let out were words.
The men gaped at her for a while, as if confused by her reaction.
In one quick unprecedented move, Esu draped Osun’s shoulders with a hand and smiled wryly at the men on horses. “My pregnant wife is exhausted from our travels. We were robbed, almost maimed and have not had food to eat for days now.”
Osun stilled when she heard him refer to her as his wife.
“But if you would please have mercy on us, and direct us to where we would get help, we would be eternally grateful to you.”
The Soldiers glanced at Osun who had now fallen silent, her fingers wiping what was left of her tears.
She made a mental note to berate Esu later. However, if the tale he had wrought so effortlessly worked for them, then she knew even she wouldn’t be so mad at him.
The soldiers pointed towards the road they had come. “You are in Tede. This road you’re on leads to the compound of Oyelese, the Baale of Tede. In his yard, nobody is turned away. You will get help until you are strong enough to continue your journey.”
“Thank you. Thank you.” Osun said profusely as the Soldiers bowed slightly before they galloped away.
The moment they were out of sight, Osun yanked Esu’s hands off her.
“Do not act like my shady self didn’t just save us.”
Osun ignored him and continued to walk towards Oyelese’s compound.
“We have to keep up with this lie; you’re my wife remember?”
But Osun was not even listening. She had begun to walk towards the compound where she would be put at rest for the first time since she came into this world.
Adeola was sitting by the hearth, stirring a steamy pot of broth, her mind faraway from Oyelese’s compound.
In a short period, her life had changed drastically. She had been transformed from the Princess of one of the greatest Empires on earth to a simple young woman waiting to be married to a man that had been chosen for her.
It was the same life she loathed – being shipped off to a man she had been betrothed to – except this time, she was living it as a woman stripped off her royalty.
Now she was a woman about to live in a world she had no say in and she was doing it without flamboyance attributed to the people of her class. The excessive display of wealth and power she would have had at her wedding as a Princess, uncertain.
She glanced at the beads on her wrist. Earlier, she had caught one of Oyelese’s senior wives looking at it with disdain; it was obviously a reminder of the woman Adeola really was.
A woman she hated.
Adeola wondered how deep their hatred for her ran. She wondered if they would stab her in her sleep in one instance without looking back. She wondered if her blood would be shed without an iota of remorse.
It was the reason she had insisted on cooking this broth by herself.
“Let them cook it for you, no one would hurt you, I promise.” Oyekunle had said to her just before she stubbornly demanded for a pot and wooden spoon to prepare her own broth by herself.
“You promise like you have control over the hatred these people have for me,” She had stated as she made to walk past him, “They hate me, and your small marriage plan to save me might stop them from acting icy towards me publicly but it won’t stop them from trying from the corners of their chambers.”
“Oyelese is my brother, he wouldn’t hurt my future wife.” He had said calmly, so calm Adeola wondered if this man really trusted the man he called brother with her life.
“I will never be his sister, not even when we are joined together in marriage.”
“He hates me, Oyekunle. And no marriage can ever take that away.” Then she had sauntered towards the kitchen area where she had cooked a broth without meat.
She could not get meat by herself but the leaves and spices she could find herself, she cooked and stirred.
“I did not know you could cook.”
She knew his voice by now, the rich deep baritone voice was soothing to hear and she had to admit, always a delight to listen to.
Still, she refused to turn. Because turning would wed their eyes, an action she was increasingly becoming worried about, for the reason that it incited foreign feelings within her.
“Princesses have everything done for them.”
“Stop making assumptions, you do not even know me.” She spat, stirring the broth again. It was almost cooked now, the aroma which drifted into her nostrils a confirmation of the near readiness of the soup.
“Do I not? Princesses are not hard to know; they are of usually made from the same material of arrogance, cloaked with the same fabric of haughtiness and entitlement of high regard.”
She eyed him when she faced him, but he was not affected by her response. Rather, his eyes twinkled at the response his statement had elicited from her.
It was as if he was consciously trying to get on her nerves.
“You are annoying.” She said, daring to look him in the eye now. But as soon as their gazes locked, she realized it was a costly mistake.
That fire blazed again and it had nothing on the one cooking her broth. In one swift moment, the kitchen grew hotter, creating more heat than she could handle.
Desperate to keep a hold on her sanity, she glued her butt to the wooden stool she sat on.
But he was clearly not about to make that decision easy, “Come to me, Adeola.” He said calmly. His voice was low but his lungs were fighting to breathe – she had taken his breath away.
Adeola swallowed hard, his outstretched hand was the most tempting offer she had received in her entire existence and she knew taking it would be voyaging on a dangerous road. One that would lead to an endless journey of passion and maybe even heartbreak.
There was no denying that this handsome man with broad, muscled chest was as tempting as he was dangerous.
And like her mother would say, one does not smell what one does not have intention to eat.
She refused to smell this man she most definitely wouldn’t be eating.
“You should leave.” She said, returning her gaze to the soup on fire. How quick she was to forget her monthly visitor was here when around this man.
“Do you really want me to?” he asked her and she stilled, refusing to move when she heard him. “Adeola?”
Determined to ignore him, she grabbed a clean piece of cloth and removed the steamy soup from the fire. Placing it gently on the leveled ground near the hearth, she grabbed a bowl containing water. Dipping her hand into it, she sprinkled enough water on the fire to quench it.
But as her wet fingers let out the liquid in many drops, she realized the fire she so desperately wanted to put out was the one between her and this man.
Yet the more she tried, the harder it became.
How was she to make sense of falling for the enemy? How was she to face her brother and the rest of the Oyo army when they came if she was hopelessly falling for the man who had driven a sword into the heart of their king, her father?
“You should leave, Oyekunle.” She tried her possible best to ignore him.
“Is that what you truly want?”
She hesitated before she lied through her teeth, “Yes.”
Silence fell upon them for a short moment before he said, “Say that to my face.”
“That is what I am doing.”
“Look into my eyes,” he said and then added almost immediately, “I dare you to.”
Twiddling with the hem of her wrapper, she refused to look into his eyes. She told herself she was refusing to be told what to do but she knew deep down it was more than that.
She was trying to fight the war against what she now undeniably felt.
“Oyekunle?” they both turned towards the entrance at the sound of his mother’s voice. There, the older woman stood, a sweet smile on her face. “You have a visitor!” she announced with so much excitement, Adeola wondered who it was.
“A visitor?” Oyekunle inquired, a frown appearing on his face. “I am not expecting anyone.” He said simply.
“Well, you may not be expecting this person but she is someone you definitely would be happy to see.”
“She?” he was further confused. “Who is she?”
His mother stepped aside just then, leaving room for the young beautiful woman between her to stand in front of Oyekunle.
“Remember Adepeju, your betrothed?”
Oyekunle looked at the girl in front of him, stunned. Beside him, the woman who was beginning to fall for him looked on, utterly confused and… what was she to call the feeling she suddenly felt when she realized he had a betrothed?
Surely it wasn’t jealousy, or was it?