Villagers did not recognized Olamma as she walked down to her compound. They just saw two strangers which seem normal.
Some walked past, while some greeted the dibia. They thought Olamma was his wife.
Olamma saw Oby from a distance carrying firewood on her head. She was coming from the farm.
She try to hide her face and quickly remembered that she was not the same Olamma that they used to know.
Oby gave her a normal look and walked past. Young men who used to desire her did not even give her a second look.
Olamma wanted to cry out, she wanted to scream out her best friend name that she was still Olamma but held back herself as they entered the compound.
Her mother and father were relaxing and eating abacha (African salad) with cow skin and a fresh palm wine when Olammaand the Atika entered.
They looked at the two strangers and wondered where they came from.
Her parents did not bother to stand up from their meal as they replied to Atika’s greeting.
Amaka brought a chair and gave to the visitor not knowing the woman was Olamma.
Olamma’s father took a big cow skin from the plate, Olamma recognised the plate. Her father had bought it from a merchant during one of his many journey. He turned to Atika after gulping down a cup of palm wine and said.
“unu abiala ee (you are all welcome) you met us well. This is my wife and we will like to know where you journeyed from? I hope you and your wife came in peace….
Atika smiled before saying.
“My name is Atika, I am from umuala age-wife/”>village in a faraway kingdom. I am both a dibia and a hunter but more of a dibia. I’m pleased to have finally meet you and is unfortunate that you can’t recognised the maiden beside me….
Olamma’s father who was done eating looked at Olamma and her mother did the same but they looked away and did not recognise her.
Olamma bent her head in shame while Atika continued.
“You have two daughters, and is believed they are both married….
Olamma’s father interrupted him excitedly.
“Yes ooo! We have two daughters. The first is Adaugo and she is just plain, she end up marrying an ordinary prince from a small kingdom, sometimes I even forget she is my daughter. But if you see the second…oh. my second daughter, we called her Olamma. She is akwa mma. Her beauty is incomparable. She is my favourite and also her mother’s. Olamma is worth a thousand daughters to me. I know how many suitor I received before she got married. She is the most beautiful in this age-wife/”>village and no maiden can compete with her on that. She made me proud by attracting a well to do suitor. A great and wealthy prince. Nwoke ntoro ato bia gbaba a. nwoke imi ogologo…(a man with a great height and body weight, a man with a pointed nose) he was a prince and king to be. He came and we had a seven days party right here in my compound. His name is prince Onrah and he is from Ozulu kingdom. A wealthy kingdom where Olamma my most beautiful daughter is ruling alongside him. She is presentlyin Ozulu kingdom ruling like she was meant to while her elder sister is just somewhere in a small age-wife/”>village not far from this village…with her so called prince who cannot be compared to the great prince Onrah of Ozulu kingdom. Olamma, my most beautiful daughter is really blessed by the gods. I love telling people her story anytime I have the opportunity to do so. Just talking out it alone makes me feel so proud….
Olamma’s mother was busy smiling from ear to ear and nodding her head as her husband rain down praise on Olamma who they never knew was seated before them.
Atika was silent as he listened to Olamma’s father and mother talking about their beautiful daughter, Olamma who married a supposed prince Onrah from Ozulu.
With the joy in Olamma father’s heart he asked for more palm wine to be brought to Atika and water with food to be given to the woman beside him who they thought was his wife.
Atika was not interested in the kola or the palm wine that was placed before him. He continued with his main mission.
Olamma’s heart was racing with fear at first but when she listened to her father and mother talk greatly about her she became calm. She thought within herself that her parents still love her and will welcome her with an open arm if they realized that she was the same Olamma.
Olamma was relaxed as she began to eat the delicious abacha and cow skin that Amaka served her. She was sure now that her parents love her far too much.
“Mazi, if you understand where Ozulu kingdom is located and who Onrah truly is, you will never mention the names again in your entire life. Ever since your daughter left, did you ever bother to go round to know where exactly is Ozulu. You cared more about the fame she brought to you, not about how she was truly faring. What if she is in danger? What if she is dead by now…
“May the gods forbids such. My daughter Olamma is enjoying in her kingdom. I don’t know why you are here but don’t bring fear to my household because Olamma my most beautiful daughter is doing fine and she is ruling with her husband that is all I know and that is all I care to know. Nothing else.
Olamma father said and her mother waved a hand over her head. Saying “May the gods’ forbids it.”
Atika smiled and continued.
“You are also to be blamed for the whole mishap that has befallen your daughter. She may have her share of blame but you shared greatly in it too. Both of you….
Olamma’s parents’ looks confuse as they asked Atika what he meant.
“Seated here with me is your daughter Olamma, who you can’t recognised anymore.
Olamma’s father and mother began to laugh. They laughed so hard as they looked at the woman sitting beside Atika who he said was Olamma their beautiful daughter.
The woman’s face was wrinkled, her skin looked tamed. She has a big keloid scar on her arm. She was not close to being classified as beautiful.
They began to laugh at Atika and his expensive joke while saying “may the gods forbids it, she can’t be our daughter… We reject this bad luck in the name of the gods”.
Olamma lost her appetite. She wanted to run off from the compound but where will she run to. She was back home and this was her home.
She interrupted her parent’s annoying laughter and said.
“Papa, mama…is true. I am Olamma your daughter. I could have being a dead soul by now if not that the gods were kind enough to send Atika to my aid.
Olamma began to narrate everything that happened to her. She broke down in tears as she told her bitter story to her parents and when all hope seem lost Atika showed up and she was rescued. She lost her beauty but she did not loss her life. Atika nursed her back to health with his family as she lived with them for months before making up her mind to come home.
“You could have live with him…why did you come back? This is not my daughter. All this story and tears do not move me. What will the villagers who I have boast so much for…what will they say when they hear of this evil… sad news. That my beautiful daughter is not ruling as the queen of Ozulu, prince Onrah was a beast and a trick star and wanted to make food out of her and that my so called beautiful daughter who left home with her beauty and prowess returned back as an ugly looking woman. mbanu…oga gi eme (never, it will not happen). You want to make mockery ofme to everyone in this village and far beyond to where I usually travel to for my trade. They accord me great respect because they all believe that my beautiful daughter who married a wealthy handsome prince is the great queen of Ozulu….where will I put my face in shame if they find out that all this were never true? May the gods forbid this to be true.
Olamma’s father went on raging, even her mother joined in.
Olamma’s mother began to talk bitterly.
“This can never me my Olamma. Chi ekwewana (God forbid) if this is all a joke, please is not funny. My daughter who is the most beautiful maiden in this village and far beyond can’t be this woman sitting down here. Ewoooo! What will the villagers say? I sing Olamma’s praise to anyone that cares to listen, I boast with pride because of Olamma. Everyone calls me mama Olamma because she was famous for her beauty and I am happy anytime and any day they calls me that because it remind me of my most beautiful daughter…ewooo! You people should just kill me here let me die instead of bringing this ugly woman and say is my daughter….
Olamma’s mother went on ranting bitterly and her father did not stop. He continued talking…
“Is better we just believe that my daughter died in Ozulu or never came back after she got married than to believe this nonsense story. We will mourn for her privately and just accept the fact that she is no more and also cancel it from other long ears and gossipers than to accept her this way as my daughter. What will I really do with her now that she came back? Mazi Atika, she could have live with you for the rest of her life so that we will keep hanging onto hope and keep believing that our Olamma is the queen of Ozulu than for you to bring her back here. Do you understand the great regard that the villagers accord me and now everything will be thrown to my feet in shame. Please, take her back from wherever you came from. There is no room here for her, she is not welcome here biko. We all believe she is married and living in her husband’s house just like my first daughter Adaugo. Ooh, Adaugo who I thought was not worth much, she is a good daughter to me. She may not have been as beautiful as Olamma used to be but she has a heart of gold and was very hardworking. She is married to a good man and the gods blessed them with children… my grandchildren. Olamma left this village with her husband who she chose by herself with her own hands, I did not chose the man for her neither did her mother brought a husband to her, Olamma rejected many good suitors and chose Onrah by herself immediately she set eyes on him. We did not push her to go and marry him she wanted to marry the man she thought was her prince charming and all we did was to give our full support like every parents will do. We are good parents and we raise our children well. My first daughter who I will refer to as my only daughter right now, she is the evidence that we train up our children in a proper way. Adaugo even try to warn her but she did not listen. After Olamma left the village with her husband, Adaugo was here twice saying that she has been having a terrible night mareover Olamma. She told us to find out where Ozulu kingdom is located and if Olamma was alright. I waved her fears off because we all believe Olamma was ruling and enjoying in Ozulu. Adaugo said she will keep seeking the face of the gods for Olamma to be safe. We laughed at her fears because she was worrying over nothing, I warned her not to come back with such bad news again, she should leave Olamma alone and focus on her own family. Well, it appears that Adaugo was right all this while and is sad that we loss Olamma because I can’t accept this woman here as my daughter…
Olamma knelt and pleaded in tears but her parents mind were made up. She cried and kept crying before Atika came to lift up from the ground.
Atika stood and looked at Olamma’s parents and said.
“The table has turned for every one of you Mazi. You will all have to live with the fact that Olamma is no more as beautiful as she used to be. I could have taken her back to my village with me and save your faces from shame but she belong here and this is where she will be. You can’t throw your daughter out because she is no more beautiful or wealthy as you have thought her to be. The villagers will tag you wicked if they hear of your actions. So Olamma is home and you have no choice than to accept her as your daughter. Is unfortunate that your first daughter saw the danger you two could not see. And she try to warn everyone but no one will listen because her words were not regarded. Your whole focus was filled with Olamma and her rich price. You two are terrible parents and that pride you try to save from everyone will be soiled. The whole villagers will come to know everything someday and your nakedness which you try to hide will be exposed. Here is your daughter Olamma and I leave her with you. She is home to her father’s house and she will stay here until her next fate is decided. Do whatever you wish with her after all she is your daughter and will remain so. You cannot deny her because things did not go as you all planned. My journey is still far and I have to get going. Thank you for the kola and palm wine…
Atika turned to Olamma and said.
“Nne, clean your tears. This is your home. You escaped death in a needle’s eye. What others could not survive you have and safely back home. You have nothing to fear or worry about. It was a terrible mistake and as you have learnt from it, other parents like yours who pushes their daughter to the arm of the wealthy will learn too. Maidens who desire more than the gods is willing to give them will also learn. Nne, eat and drink in peace. This is your home. Your parents has no choice than to feed and take care of you. udo!! (Peace)
Atika turned and left, Leaving Olamma and her parents standing in the compound. Confused on what to do next.