Previously on THE REAL CINDERELLA STORY…
There was absolute silence as the vision in Ankara, coral beads, gemstones and Hollandis lace walked up to the front where the prince was standing, waiting to be served, same as his guests. The line had stopped because the woman in front of him paused in front of every platter and took a spoon of each delicacy. Nkwobi. Coleslaw. Ukwa. Abacha. Semo and Egusi soup. She was a purge waiting to happen.
“Is this space taken?” a soft, modulated voice asked.
Oghenekevbe sighed inwardly and rolled his eyes and wondered why he’d agreed to this archaic scheme in the first place. Why hadn’t he insisted his father let him do things the 21st century way—meet someone, fall in love and get married? Why had he agreed to choose a wife among these strange women who cared nothing for him, but were only here for the fame and money?
“A naira for your thoughts,” said Cindy, staring at the handsome profile of the prince.
Fortifying himself with a deep breath, firming his lips, squaring his jaw, raising his shoulders, and putting on a forbidding frown, Oghenekevbe turned to face the latest aspirant to the Office of the Wife of the Presidential Amanyanabo.
THIS IS A BREAK IN TRANSMISSION…
This break is necessary, because I need to go and borrow two truckloads of clichés and adjectives with which to describe the encounter between these two people.
And we’re back…
I know you’re going to Thomas what I’ll say next, but I swear, the Prince’s jaws went slack. His eyes went so wide that any further and his eyeballs would have popped out and rolled on the pristine, blue-tiled floor of the Dining Room. His heart stopped beating. Then it began to pound, doing timkpa-timkpa-timkpa, like the drumming in one of those prayer houses that line the Bar Beach in Lagos Citadel. It left him with a weird sort of breathlessness and his belly began to do gulu-gulu-gulu, like he’d drank too much water on an empty stomach.
“I’m trying not to be rude here, Your Excellency the Majesty, but I really need to know if I can stand here.”
“W-where?” he said with a stutter.
“In front of you,” she replied with a shy smile.
But the young prince appeared not to have heard our darling Chinda. He was too busy gawking. His gaze began from her lips—they looked oh-so-soft, like cotton candy. He felt like he was drowning in the depths of her warm, caramel brown eyes. The smoothness of her rounded shoulders called out to him. Her bosom was perfect—neither watermelons nor tangerines, bigger than grapes, but slightly smaller than shaddocks. A flood of attraction, affection and protectiveness instantly swarmed his senses. He wanted to whisk her away to a remote castle, where he would protect her from all the evils of the world. And while they were there, he would protect and protect and protect her until she bore him six children, and all of them would have her eyes.
While the heir apparent was immersed in his daydream, Cinderella stepped into the line, right in front of him. This did not go down well with the other women. The more vocal ones amongst them quickly uttered their displeasure.
“What do you think you’re doing? Will you go to the back and join the kwi! Go to the back of the kwi.”
“Yes, gaan join the queue!”
“Who da hell are you?”
The noise jerked the Obong out of his reverie. “What’s the matter?” he barked, glaring at the tight circle of women.
“This upstart just came in, Your Majesty, and she’s jumping the line,” one woman snarled.
“Is it your line?” said the Prince. “She will stand wherever she wants,” he declared, looking down again at the epitome of loveliness in front of him. That was when he noticed her head. Werreminit! Was that what he thought it was?
“Ex-excuse me. Is this your hair?” he stammered, staring at the long, thick mass of pure kinky natural.
Cinderella turned away from bestowing her rivals with a smug smile, glanced up at the Obong and said, “Yes, Your Excellency the Majesty.”
“As in, your real, real hair?” he asked again.
Ah, at those words, the Obong tumbled a little bit deeper into the pit of love.
“It’s glorious! Splendid! What do you put in it?” he asked in wondermentation.
“Your Majesty, you know hair is a living thing. So I feed it like I feed myself. It eats things like palm oil, coconut oil, watermelon, jojoba oil, crayfish juice, Aloe Vera extract and even eggs sef.”
“Youdonmeanit! What’s your name, lovely damsel?” he asked.
“Chinda Ella, Your Majesty. But my friends call me Cinderella.”
“Ah you’re from the Port Harcourt Caliphate, eh?”
They talked on and got to know each other. Daggered looks and spiteful whispers swirled around them. Down the buffet line, they got to the platter of jollof rice. Cindy heaped enough to feed three people on her plate. Then she added okra soup sauce and spicy dodo. The heir apparent almost jumped in excitement, he couldn’t contain his joy.
“You really like Jollof rice, don’t you?”
“No, my Prince. I love it.”
“This is amazing. My mother used to say, ‘If you see a woman who loves Jollof, take her home and call her wifey.’”
“You flatter me, sir,” Cinderella said with a smile.
I need not trouble you with the little, inconsequential details of how these two discovered that they were dedicated foodies. How they Oliver-Twisted second portions of Ofe nsala and pounded yam. And a third serving of fried tolotolo and chicken pies. Between the two of them, they ate enough to feed their ancestors.
What happened next?
“The king, His Royal President, Mhonum Rukewe Tai Akpan Bashiru, the Igwe Gburugburu 1 of Nigeria, GCON, MNN, STD, AIDS, BBC, CON, echeteram, echeteram, bids us all to assemble in the ball room again, for the Royal Wife-Choosing Dance.”
This announcement was made by Mr. Hee C.A.N. Tok, the Prezidenshal Spokes-announcer.
At this, everyone began to congregate in the Ballroom.
Written by Eketi Ette