Like a deer loves its doe,
A vixen, her fox…
So did Arike and Akande's love story begin…
It all happened on a starry night under the moonlight. The Alarede festival was taking place at the village square in Oyo town where all the young maidens came to show their dancing skills by wiggling protuberant backsides.
All was merry and children were all cheers as the young female adults danced on enthusiastically.
Clad in a fitting agbada, Akande was captivated most by the beautiful maiden Arike as she swirled around with ileke jingling around her tiny waist. Like the early evening wind, her rhythmic movements seemed effortless.
He was moved to adjust his elegant agbada several times as he tried to arrest her attention. When this proved futile, he gave in to the pull of her allure and succumbed by joining her in dancing her irresistible wind dance.
Though hypnotised in her trance-like dance, he realised he was trapped with her forever in another kind of never-ending dance. As alarmed as he was by this discovery, he also felt joyful. After the festival, as the village maidens were heading towards their homes, Akande summoned enough courage and called out to Arike by saying;
'Beautiful damsel whose waist dangles like shekere coated with bead in Egba, whose legs move to the dance beat like Omo omi to Yemoja, can you please grant me audience?'
Walking leisurely towards Akande like the sun as it sets, Arike responded;
'Arakunrin, it is late. Why do you disturb me as I walk home with my friends?'
'Orekelewa,only you have captured my heart tonight. I needed to let you know my heart has gone on a journey prompted by your undulating waist and that as you go home you take my heart with you. Please, I want us to be lovers and I promise not to make you happy for the rest of your life'
Arike blushed and said;
'Hmm, okunrin! You men can paint the sky with your tongues and promise to bring the ocean to land with your mouth. You can promise to build a city on water and yet never fulfil'
'Well, (Arike said after a long sigh and a short pause) meet me under the mango tree along Igbo Ramo on the next full moon as I will have thought about your request'
She turned away instantly and jogged along to meet her friends leaving Akande transfixed for a while as he watched the girls fade into the night…
The day of the full moon…
'Arike mi owon, as Agemo loves her children and Sango loves thunder, I promise to love you.
As Osun loves the water and Ifa loves Oduduwa, I promise to love you.
Ogun does not desert iron and Eledumare does not desert his children, I promise not to desert you.'
That was Akande professing his love for Arike at the pre-arranged rendezvous. Arike's reaction was a face that lit up with toothy smiles. Apparently, she had fallen for Akande. To cement the agreement, she leaned on his arm with Akande's agbada raised up so she could have a feel of his masculinity as they both discussed and promised each other undying love.
'Ololufe mi owon,
only you have captured my heart for among all jewels, you are gold.
Among all men you are rare and among all your kind you are special.
A'mo wagbo o,
Don't cheat on me,
Don't follow those village maidens after I have given you my heart.'
'Arike, you know I have sworn to love and cherish you and till the end of time I will never do such.'
They continued to confess love to each other until it was time for farewells.
At the palace…
After 3 years of being away, Kabiyesi's only son Omo Oba Ademorin came home from overseas and a competition among maidens was planned to select the wife for the future Kabiyesi.
The maiden dance…
As shekere was dancing on this said day and strings vibrantly pulled to resonate others, hands beat drums with so much force that it swept everyone within the palace walls into a dance frenzy. Onibata wasn't left behind as the palace filled up with so much laughter and dancing. All the chiefs and village elders were present to observe the dancers as well as the royal family; the Kabiyesi, his Queen; Olori Ashake and their son, Aremu Ademorin.
Despite being a favourite to win, Arike wiggled to the dance lazily as she prayed not to get picked. Heavy clouds cannot forever the sun conceal however. Unfortunately for Arike, Aremu Ademorin came toward her, sprayed her money and walked majestically around her as he announced;
'She is the one'
Arike, on hearing this, ran out of the palace as fast as her legs could carry her to her dear love Akande.
But the news had already spread beating her to Akande's door by several leagues.
Getting into his house, she met his corpse and instantly felt her heart break into a thousand fragments. She sank to the ground near his body and started weeping inconsolably resolving to cry herself to death until through mushy eyes she saw a note addressed 'Arike mi owon'
She picked it up to read.
Adunmadan aya oba
Bi shekere she won lode egba
Be ni kinihun sowon laarin eranko,
My love,you have been the best thing to ever happen to me
The moments I spent with you cannot be compared to anything
For your face brightens my heart,
Ifemi! you may wonder why I could have committed such an act of cowardice,
But what can be said of a man whose only joy was snatched and cannot fight?
Itiju nin pa elede laarin awon eranko mimo,
Ka ma ri, koju ma ribi gbogbo ara loogun e
Ikun san ju esin lo
I am sorry my dear
But I love you too much to watch you go
When Bolaji told me you were the Prince's choice I was dumbfounded
As I have thought of it, but never imagined it a reality
Who am I, the son of a common palmwine tapper to argue or drag your love with omoba Ademorin?
I am sorry I left too soon, ifemi darijimi…
I wish you success in your new life.
Ife re tooto:- Akande'
Arike wept and wept but no amount of tears can cause a flood and verily she knew that no percent of flood could bring Akande back.
She ran home and locked herself in her room while reminiscing about the past, of all the promises left unfulfilled and the undying love they had sworn to share.
Drying her tears, she reached a decision….ibi ti ololufe mi Akande ba re emi Arike maa balo
With a heart as hard as metal, she swallowed her father's hunting poison.
She knew what fate awaited her and that death would follow soon.
As she lay writhing in agony she sang… a sorrowful song of love.
Tunde Olowu is an aspiring doctor,motivational speaker and a writer.
Email address:[email protected]