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Copyright © 2023 by Hadiza Bagudu.
Princess Talatu was sitting in her beautiful room in Balda, accompanied by two of her servants, Purwa and Asakal. One was massaging her feet, and the other was braiding her hair. Her uncle, the Waziri, came to visit unannounced. As usual, his Gare bellowed angrily as he moved.
“Salaamu Alaikum,” he said and entered without waiting to be ushered in. Both girls knelt and turned their backs to him in respect, as it would have been considered rude for them to make eye contact with him.
Talatu also came down from her bed and knelt to greet him. “Leave us!” He ordered and the two girls scurried out of the room like frightened kittens. Talatu did not even raise her head.” So, what has been going on? What can you tell me?” He asked.
“Nothing, Uncle. He was still unhappy about the defeat,” she replied, timidly.
“I know that. But did he say anything?”
“No. In fact, I haven't seen him for two days now.”
“You need to give me something I can work with, child! Your husband is the Lamdo's right-hand man and my route to the throne. Do not just sit here and act dumb.”
Talatu was offended, but there was nothing she could do. He was her uncle, and she loved him. She had always seen him as a kind man who was very rational. She had admired him for loving and respecting his brother, the king, even though he was older than him. But now, she worried about him. He asked her to spy on her husband and report his every move to him. She wan’t happy about it, and there were so many things wrong with spying on her husband that she disliked.
As if he could read her mind, he said, “I know you think what I am doing is wrong, but you should understand that I am only helping you to secure our family name. Your husband is a stranger, and my brother, dumb as he is, put him in a position of power and shared all our secrets with him. I am just trying to ensure that he is not misusing that position, or worse, trying to usurp the throne from us and even kill our king. I am sorry, but I do not trust him that much.”
“I know, uncle. I really am doing my best to get something out of him. But for some reasons, he doesn’t trust me. He seems distracted. He is always at the palace, and sometimes I don’t see him for days.”
“Well, he is not at the palace right now, or anywhere else that I know of,” he paused for a while. He is up to something; I don’t know what. But I will find out., I promise. In the meantime, I will send the Magajiya with something for you to give him. Make sure he eats it.”
“What is it?” She was worried.
“Do not question me, child! You know I will never do anything to harm you. It is just a little belal bmandu that will give you an edge. You said he did not seem interested in you, well, after he eats it, you will be the only thing he thinks of. Now, tell me you don’t want that,” she didn’t say anything. “Ok then, now that we have that settled, I will be leaving. Goodbye.”
“Goodbye, uncle,” she said quietly.
Back at Ndokula, Malam Buba called his two daughters into his room for a talk. His wife was sitting by his side. He told them about the impending festival of Sharo. It is the yearly courtship festival in which young unmarried men of the Bororo clans undergo different types of dances and even torture to attract females for marriage. It is customary for all young men and women, and even though some parents do promise their daughters’ hands in marriage without their consent, they still allow them to participate in the festival. If a maiden chooses a mate there, then the first betrothal is cancelled. Such is the significance of the event. All young girls look forward to it to decide on their choice of a partner. Even the young men look forward to it too. It is a matter of pride for their families to watch their sons endure the pains of whips gracefully, without showing any signs of fear. The benefits are instantaneous: fame, respect, and above all, a pretty wife to go with it.
The festival was to be held in three months’ time, and Malam Buba wanted to ensure they were prepared. His brother had come in respect of his son’s interest in Fantah, and he needed to tell her about it. Murtala’s parents also informed him of their son’s interest in Diddi. So, he told them that he had approved both unless they have reservations. Unknown to him, Fantah wanted so badly to tell him about her stranger, but she was afraid to. She needed Hayah to show commitment first, to come and see her father, preferably together with some elders. That way, if she objects to marrying Sa’adu, she will have a very good reason for doing so, and her father would not be offended. She said a silent prayer, hoping he would keep to his word and not disappoint her this time.
[End of Episode Eight]