(THE HUNTER’S PLIGHT)
The euphony of lutes, tambourine, clapping and sundry melodies gelled a euphoria in Ramoja, every one of her jubilant inhabitants unleashing peculiar dancing skills. The most remarkable was the wriggling hips of maidens to the gleam of young men. Proud King Losawa sat embellished on his High Seat (The Majesty’s chair outside the Palace) spontaneously nodding to the harmony, flanked by both wives to the left and right. He watched with delight not only to the reason of the proceeding festival but of the fact that he has etched his name and the royal reputation on the halls of history. Half a century ago as a crown prince, he observed the excruciating strive by his peace loving father, King Losa, to meet up with the numerous demands of tributes imposed on Ramoja by powerful kingdoms. It was a season of petty squabbles when kings warred against kings, plundering and taking captives. Losa in his peaceful nature took the way of tribute to wade of battles and retain a tranquilized rule. This method over the years weakened the economic life of the people from whom taxes were realized to meet these burdens. While King Losa saw himself an epitome of peace, Prince Losawa his son regarded it as cowardice. He however, kept the discontent to himself awaiting the appropriate time – when he becomes king.
Upon his enthronement at his father’s death, he halted the taxes and headed for a distant land where he had learnt of the existence of a certain mighty sorcerer with great offerings for an endowment of military strength. The kingdoms upon whose feet the tributes were tendered advanced for battle against Ramoja whose customary tribute, the new King Losawa have terminated but to the awe of the times, the feeble Ramoja not only defeated its enemies but over time, crumble and placed them all under tribute. This returned a proud feeling in the hearts of her inhabitants and an undisturbed dominion over neighbouring kingdoms. Over the years, Ramoja flourished and her king, Losawa seemed formidable and regarded himself almost a thin god. He spoke with pride and superiority, and was feared as well as loved.
This current festival of harvest that sent musical waves from the village square of Ramoja was to be succeeded by the Princess’ marriage three days ahead, her name is Sekite. She was loved by his father Losawa. As the traditions were, men will converge at the Square in the audience of the villagers bearing gifts and the richest among all will take home the princess as wife. This was done for the royal and wealthy lineages but for others, the converged men would rather wrestle and the strongest goes home with his maiden – an idea from a saying “what wealth can achieve, strength may go half way.” King Losawa who believed strength was the ultimate decreed that he would rather give his daughter to a man of valour than to a feeble wealthy fellow, thus opening the grounds for all and sundry toward contest at the prize of the Princess’ hand in marriage. This presented a difficult for the princess whose plans and desires were heading for a ruin. She have been in clandestine affair with a young man who was definitely unable to afford the requirement of marring her – the giving of gifts, and she had been stealing from her father’s stock to acquaint him with what to present on that day. The incongruous decree of her father concerning the method of wrestling disoriented her greatly for she knew her lover as a peaceful and quiet, though skilful hunter. Her love for adventure had attracted her to him and as a hunter who tours the forest, this presented her with fun and provided tryst for their relationship. Most of the times, her claims of heading for stream was a ruse. She actually headed for her lover – the Hunter.
The day of her marriage has come and observers from both far and near gathered to know who the King’s son-in-law becomes. Lutes, singing and all its accompanies enchanted the air as the young men were arraigned and paired for the contest. King Losawa invited the sorcerer of his early days, to witness the event. Their friendship had grown over the years and the king personally attributed his victories to his help. Here is the order of the contest: everyone would fight with his paired opponent as a preliminary and after that, another pairing will be made matching a weaker with a stronger. This was aimed at dwindling the number of weaker fellows to make the match tough so the emergent winner will be a worthy selection. The mark of defeat was getting knocked down by an opponent with the back on the ground. The hunter was the first and his opponent mesmerised him dashing him countlessly to the floor and in the second ranking, he was paired with one of the strongest whose body built and muscles were highly intimidating. This sent fretful waves down the spines of Princess Sekite who had started repulsively scanning through the young men examining who may emerge as her husband. She was disappointed with her father’s decree and wished the gods would someway help her Hunter but that seemed like a prayer too weird. His first challenge didn’t seem like the gods were ever going to be at his sides and Sekite already started passing through heartbreak and the thoughts of a life of woe – spending a lifetime with an undesired fellow.
Now the tournament; the first loser goes and the second fight was the Hunter’s. Sekite kept eyes away with the hope of not seeing his expected lose. His lose was her lose, thus she cannot behold her own lose with her own eyes. As predicted, the hunter was again beaten and his battle consisted more of defence than attack. The King made a remark to his seating neighbour, the sorcerer saying that he don’t know why it is taking time to outdo the feeble fellow; he referred to the hunter. This shattered Sekite’s growing hope on hearing. The spectacle however became interesting when it was clear that the hunter even in weakness was froward in reaching the ground. His frowardness lingered until his mighty opponent was dashed to the floor, on his back and Sekite impulsively jumped in exclamation to her feet but cowered back as soon as she realized her overbearing burst. Her mother immediately gathered two and two and realized the underlying. She now already knew where her daughter’s heart lies but the man seemed unfitting enough.
The hunter made the second round in which participants have now been reduced. Sekite held upon her quivering faith however and once again after an anticipating watch, rejoiced – now inconspicuously as her feeble Hunter whose skill of avoiding falling with the back untowardly flushed his opponent to the ground. This brought a flash back to the King, remembered how his weak kingdom in the past years crawled to power and fame and he subtly admired the Hunter’s travail. He learnt a lesson too: cleverness is more outwitting to strength. It was at this point that the sorcerer asked if he could have more wine and the king replied that more wine, more meat even more food will be at his demand, exaggerating to provide whatever he requested. “All your mentioned promises are despiteful to the noble thing I will ask for if permitted” the sorcerer said to the king’s ear with his usual evilly smile. The king in immerse desire to attend the demands of the man whose help had flourished his kingdom commanded him to ask for whatever and have them fulfilled. With no waste of time, the sorcerer demanded the princess’ hand in marriage – the one young men were already toggling for. King Losawa made dire suggestion of his other daughters who were not yet taken but the sorcerer insisted. This repulsed the king a great deal and he maintained that the sorcerer will join the contest as the only criteria for his request. The sorcerer was dwarfish and tiny. A man endowed with an unmatchable ugliness with a teeth almost rasped by tobacco. One side of his face seemed more terrifying than the other, which earned him a secret mockery name ‘the dual faced’ by Sekite and her sisters. As a man of spirits, he knew of this and wanted to teach the poor girl that such ridiculed fellow can taste of the beauties and attractions of her body even against her wish.
While the conversion heated between the King and the Sorcerer, the Hunter in his lewd cleverness emerged winner and the exhilarated Princess flung to his arms uncontrolled. There was nothing more to hide, everyone now is free to know her ‘inheart desire’ emerged the worthy selection. The king however, taking notice of the unsuspected turn out, felt pity for the poor boy who definitely out of unsavoury circumstance now have one more match ahead – a match with the gods. When it have been revealed to the audience, the newly reached concession, tears from that poured from the princess’ eyes were heavier than rain. The Hunter was unbeknown of the man’s identity and promised Sekite that he would defeat the dwarf with just an arm. Once the gong was clanged as a sign of start, the sorcerer swayed his wand and the hunter was helpless with his back on the ground after being throw up to 5ft upwards. “This can never be” was what swept rapidly through the felling heart of Princess Sekite. When the hunter had won the match earlier and she flung to his arms, she felt his warm skin and before the joyous though of life-happily-ever-after, came a sensual feeling and quick desire of legitimately following him home and for the first time go totally nude for him, leaving all parts of her body to his disposition. The imagination of this now with this forbidden looking fellow – the sorcerer, quizzed life from her and she fainted. The not-long-ago jubilation of the crowd abruptly came to a halt except for one remaining jubilant – the sorcerer.
The infuriated King Losawa, now disappointed in himself made a sombre speech to hand his daughter after three days to aid him advice and prepare her for the unexpected voyage. The sorcerer knew that it was contrary to their tradition which predicates that the emergent winner goes at once with his maiden so he gave warning. He equally suspected that Lasawa may have some tricks up his sleeves to outdo him and rob him of his earned right, thus, returned at once to his domain and demanded that the Princess be brought to him at the prescribed time. The King made dangerous and intensified plans with his guards after consulting the wisdom of his cabinet and in three days, sent of his daughter in the company of well-armed guards to the far land of the sorcerer’s abode – all the way to Azuzo.
KEEP TABS TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT!!!
Nnaemeka Chukwukezie (Talesmen)