THE BEAUTIFUL PRINCESS AND THE VILLAGE BOY
There once lived a man named Opulo in the village Nkpume. The town was a little town comprising of local people most of which were farmers, security guards and community workers. Though the town was small, it was well respected by the neighbouring villages.
It was in this village that Opulo was born. His full name was ihemanarieopulo but his father and the villagers fondly called him Opulo. His mother had died after giving birth to him. His father took care of him till he came of age. His father Bulani as he was fondly called by the villagers was a man of peace but the problem he had was that he was a poor farmer. Though he was hardworking, his farm never yielded a good harvest. He and his son fed on the little proceeds of the farm. Some villagers advised him to marry another wife but he adhered not to them.
Opulo was tall, good looking and hardworking which made him the admiration of his village especially the maidens. Most of them pass by his farm just to catch a glimpse of him but he was not bothered neither was he attracted to them. He only had one thing in mind: he didn't want to be poor like his father. He remembered an incident when a man insulted his father over farm seedlings that he didn't have money to pay for. He worked diligently on his farmland.
Therefore he worked very hard relentlessly and it was not in vain because his farm proceeds were bountiful. He was even given a title by the king "Akunanwata" on one occasion when his harvest was double bountiful harvest. He even sold most of them in the neighborhood market every Afor day. It was clear to the villagers that the gods has favoured him and blessed the work of his hands.
His father was happy for his son's good fortune but implored him to look for a good maiden to marry. Opulo told his father that he wants to get married but he has not seen the maiden he desires. He knew that the maidens loved him but there were qualities that he was seeking for in them.
Meanwhile the king of Nkpume had a beautiful daughter Olamma who was an epitome of beauty and the pride of her father. She was fondly called Apunanwu by her mother the queen. She was well mannered, humble, strong and a kind hearted woman and she was loved by everyone in her kingdom. She was the admiration of all the maidens in her village and the neighboring villages. Princes and wealthy merchants have been coming for her hand in marriage but she refused all of them. She also refused the prince of Kinda kingdom whom she was betrothed to. The king was very bothered and asked his daughter the problem was. Princess Olamma told the king that she wants a man who is strong enough to win her heart. She was always accompanied by palace guards and maids. Since she was the only child, she had everything at her neck and call. The king wanted her to marry a prince so that she will remain in royalty,wealth and fame.
Princess Olamma was always kind and generous to the poor and needy in her kingdom. Sometimes most villagers wondered how a princess could be s nice to others unlike other royalties.
Oneday she sneaked out of the palace to go for a walk alone without her royal wear. As she passed by the farmland singing happily to herself, she was bitten by a snake and cried out. As usual Opulo was working on his farmland when he heard her cry, he left what he was doing and rushed towards the direction of the cry. He saw her lying down crying. Having been thought by his father on first-aid treatment for such animal bites, he quickly administered first-aid treatment on her. Olamma was grateful to him but was surprised when he asked her where she lived because she thought the villagers knew her well. When she told him that she is a princess, Opulo was taken aback but nevertheless he took her back to the palace.
The king was happy and thanked Opulo for bringing his daughter home safely.
From that day the princess set her eyes on Opulo, her heart became fixed on him. He was the only thing on her mind and she longed to see him again. She went for another walk with her maids. Passing through Opulo farmland, she found out that he was not there. she inquired from the villagers where his home was, on getting there she found out that Opulo father has been ill for the past few days. Opulo has been there taking care of his ill father and could not go to his farmland anymore. The princess showed her concern to assist him but he politely refused. This didn't deter her from coming to his home frequently to ask after his father.
Opulo couldn't help to notice that the princess was well mannered, respectful despite her royalty. They got along well and became friends .they started seeing each other more often than before. Opulo knew that a strong bond of love has started developing between them.
Opulo father has fully recovered now. though he was happy to see that his son was in love with the princess but he recoiled at the thought of what the king will do when he finds out about their relationship. Opulo thought of the same thing and told Olamma severally" what if your father do not approve of me?" Olamma reassured him that all will be well.
The king was happy to find out that Olamma has been healed of the snake bite but wondered what the source of her new happiness and estacy recently was from.
As the saying goes that nothing is hidden under the sun, the villagers has started spreading rumours about the princess closeness to Opulo.
Oneday the king heard about it and summoned Opulo to the palace. Opulo was scared when palace guards came to his home and asked him to follow them to the palace. on getting there, the king called him his popular title Akunanwata and asked whether what he heard was true. Opulo was perplexed and asked the king what that was. the king asked him whether he was interested in his daughter. Opulo was confused on what answer that he will give so that the wrath of the king will not be meted on him. He then replied the king that his intentions towards the princess was pure and he desires to marry her.
At this, the king became furious and ordered the guards to look him up in the palace prison. though he wanted his a suitor for his daughter, he never thought a man from a poor home like Opulo will come to ask for his daughter's hand in marriage. Opulo sent 3 days there without eating or drinking.
Meanwhile the princess who was not aware of this development at the palace visited opulo home. When his father told her what happened, she returned to the palace in anger pointing fingers on her father which made the king issue an order to keep her indoors and refrain her from going outside the palace. He also ordered guards to stay close to the palace prison to prevent Opulo from escaping.
Olamma refuse to eat anything and kept on crying intensely. the next day, the queen complained to the king that their daughter had refused to eat and had been crying all through the night. The king was bothered because she was his only child and summoned her. He asked her what she wanted when she came and she told him that she wanted then to release Opulo. The king agreed only on the condition that she will never see him again which she agreed to.
Opulo was released and went home. To make sure his daughter never saw him again, he assigned palace guards to go with his daughter everywhere she goes to.
Olamma was heartbroken. Now suitors both princes and influential traders has again started coming for marriage but she turned them down as well.
The king was annoyed and asked her what she really wanted. She told him that she will marry the man that goes and plucks the two leaves from the achida tree in the middle of the agum forest for her. This forest was one of the dreaded forests in the village and neighbouring villages.The leaves of the achida tree was presumped to bring love, healing and peace to the person that plucks it and to whomever it was given.
The king was taken aback because he clearly understood what the implications were. Nobody has ever gone into the achida forest and came back alive. The forest was popularly known for swallowing up any thing that enters inside it.
The villagers were thrown into a dilemma. some supported the princess decision while others frowned at it. Some people said that the princess was an obanje(evil spirit sent to torment her parents), others said that she was out of her senses.
The king could not do any other thing apart from complying to her daughter demands since she refused to eat anything and was getting ill.
The town crier went about the village with the news stating that young men who are interested in marrying the princess should come to the palace to be fortified for the journey.
Meanwhile Opulo has resumed his work at the farm. Sometimes he thinks about the princess and wished that he was wealthy enough to marry her.
His friend paid him an unusual visit telling him about the recent happenings in the village and about the princess request. since his heart still longed to see her, he ran to the palace immediately.
When he got there, the king was surprised to see him among the men seeking for her in marriage. Soon the chief priest fortified them and they left for the forest.
They were eight men, they were all given a mark to defer them from animals alongside other things.They were also told not to look back no matter what happened. The forest of achida had five paths. the first part was filled with horrifying sounds of animals. one of them looked back and disappeared into the ground. the rest took to their heels.
Night fall came and they slept off in the forest. In the morning,dispute arose among them leading to quarrel and they separated from each other.
Opulo went on his own and started looking for the tree . He survived the attacks in the forests and kept singing to himself as he passed through the forest.
Meanwhile the princess had fallen ill and the whole villagers were awaiting the return of the men. In the forest, Opulo has gotten to the tree.
As he wanted to pluck the leaves, a strange force pulled him down. Then he remembered what the chief priest had told them about the tree: the tree had protective spirits that prevent people from plucking it's leaves prematurely. The priest further told them that those protective spirits can be pleased by singing sweet songs to them and those leaves cannot he plucked by force.
Opulo sent down on his knees and started singing
"Achida please let me pluck some of your leaves oh Achida, To heal the one I love oh Achida, the one that loves me oh Achida".
He kept on singing with a sweet melody .
Suddenly the leaves started falling and Opulo picked them as they fell. He gathered them carefully and started his journey back home.
The only man that survived came back to the village and died two days after a terrible illness. When Opulo came back to the village, the entire village was shocked and wondered how he suffered in the forest. He was accompanied to the palace where he administered the drops of water on those leaves to the princess and she became well.
The king was overjoyed and declared a royal bounquet for 3days throughout his kingdom after giving his daughter's hand in marriage to Opulo the man of her dreams.
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