Apemso laid like the regal kingdom it was, beautiful to outsiders, haunting to weak kingdoms, served by kingdoms it had conquered. Many village folks outside Apemso thronged to the capital city in search of greener pastures, leaving their hometowns to the aged, few drunkards and children. It was only during festivals that travellers went back home to fill their villages with joy. The dust in Apemso had become odd. Most people with weak breaths were severely coughing and or dying. Farmers were worried because their farms were not doing well. It had been three moons without rain, the first drought over a century in the golden kingdom. Ohene Asaa couldn’t help but worry. His bed stood hungry for his touch as his queen sat on a stool, watching him pace up and down.
“What is happening? I hope it is not due to the lies told to the gods about Nyamekye’s marriage? Ohemaa, I am worried this might bring catastrophe.”
Ohemaa Abrampah thought for a while. “We surely shouldn’t be punished by the gods if you think clearly about this. I mean, what did we do wrong? The gods gave us a gift and added a clause to keep her. We merely followed their instructions. Should we have allowed our only child to die?”
Ohene Asaa followed the thoughts of his queen. “If you think about it that way, we have done no wrong. But human minds will think we are playing God when the truth outs. Minds are but dramatic actors when new news strikes. I am very worried about the rumours. Do you know the elders have been asking for a meeting on that matter since last moon? In fact, today is a day I can’t escape that meeting. What do I tell them? Lies on additional lies is deadly as eyes of the gods are everywhere.”
Silence fell on both heads.
The rumour had been that there was a sacrilege committed by His Majesty. Due to that sacrilege, the gods of the land were angry and acting up by holding the rains. They aimed to starve them until they were pacified. Nyamekye was worried, even through her pregnancy but Boadu could not be bothered. She vomited excessively and lost weight. Her mother had tried to let the royal herbalists take care of her but she had ordered them to keep her situation a secret until she was ready.
Ama went to the Archers field and sent for Kumnipa. She pierced the bull’s eye slitting three arrows at once to his horror as he thought her a male spirit in a female body. He had tested her by setting her up with ten men. She nearly slaughtered them but for his intervention. Many of them sustained wounds but she didn’t get even a scratch on her body. Ama asked him to shoot his arrow but he had suddenly lost interest in battling her knowing he’d lose. His guards were watching and he didn’t want to give them the pleasure of turning him into a laughing stock. He thought hard. He had not done anything that demanded him being punished by her. He slept in the same room as Nyamekye on nights arranged by the elderly women and watched her in the arms of Boadu. Though Ama tried to restrict him, he romanced her in his bid to annoy him but he tried his best not to react. He hated him but had never acted up since she caught him.
Kumnipa signalled his guards to leave them alone and they complied. “You seem angry. Did I err in anyway?”
“I don’t know. You tell me, did you err in anyway?”
“To the best of my knowledge, I have been at my best behaviour. So I am at sea. Tell me to my face if you think I have done something wrong. After all, the path maker knows not when his path gets crooked.”
Ama turned, looked at him but he didn’t blink. Obviously he had a clean conscience but she still felt unsettled. She held his neck with one hand, lifted him with the other and flipped him on the ground. His guards who watched from a secret location giggled as he shouted in pain. “Ajeiiii Ama. You need to stop being physical with me. A man surely fears a woman who intimidates him in every way. The reason it is difficult to get close to you. Just tell me what you think I did and I will apologize if I am wrong.”
Ama held his hand and helped him up. Then pulled him into her embrace. Just when his hands were about to hold her, she whispered. “It was you. You were the one who started the rumour about the sacrilege in the palace.”
Kumnipa pulled away, looked at her in disappointment, threw his bow and arrows away, shook his head, raised his eyes to the sky before looking at her as tears begun to well in his eyes.
“I guess I will always be the monster in this haunting palace. Every wrong deed will have to come from me. I am the cock who can never dance to please any eagle here. Go and tell it to the King that I am the cause. Tell him to behead me for I am a continuous offender. Tell him I am not worthy of his throne. Who can chain a man with royalty on the stakes of his burning ego and continuously starve him of his little peace of mind through his trusted aide, the one person he lo…” He stopped himself, looked at her, blinked his tears, wiped his face with the back of his left palm and left.
Ama had not expected his reaction. It was the first time she had seen him that way. She heard that rumour from him the night he was nearly murdered but it had been long before it surfaced. She sensed somewhat that he was not the one. Then who was? The elders were meeting that morning to deliberate on the matter and she felt sorry for the king who had discussed his worry with her. He had become the father she lost and although men and women alike called her names for her prowesses, names like “man-woman”, “woman with a tail”, she could never be bothered because the king really loved and cared for her.
Almost all the elders were in brisi; mourning clothes. Even sub chiefs were invited to the big meeting. They numbered eighty two. They addressed the Okyeame in sweet anger. Words that did not sound insulting but sounded severe.
“Okyeame, let it reach the ears of the eagle on our golden stool that rumours are rife of a sacrilege. Who are we to mention that we believe such rumours? But the gods are reacting and confusing us. There is a saying that if nothing touches the bamboo stick, it will never emit sound. Elders can never sit to watch the ruins of a household, what would that make us? We have come to our sky for answers. We need our loving king to search himself with the love of his people and give us clues so we can act and rectify the situation”.
“Errr Okyeame, let it reach our king that drought is an enemy no land wants. It is that enemy which can displace any land, the potent punishment of the gods. We the elders of the land love our king and are worried about his welfare as he is worried about ours. There is no sacrilege which a sacrifice can’t dissolve. Our heads are ready to roll even if, sɛbi sɛbi, his just ways have been misinterpreted by the gods”
The elders went on and on as Ohene Asaa listened. Kumnipa sat on his right hand side, Ohemaa Abrampah on his left. Kumnipa saw how serious the matter was and understood Ama’s behavior but was still disappointed that she blamed him. Then it dawned on him that he’d told her about it moons back. Suddenly, he felt unwell. As Ohene Asaa was about to open his mouth, the roof sounded like rocks were falling on it, cold air filled the hall, rains started falling amidst thunder and lightning from the very clear sky. A cloudless rain! All the elders came out to see as people in the township and in the palace shouted “A cloudless rain! This is a miracle”. Rain harvesters waited for the first few minutes of rain to clean the roofs before harvesting their needed nyankontɔn. For over an hour, the elders stood waiting but the rains gave no sign of stopping. It was a wonder to behold. Even Ohene Asaa was surprised, pleasantly.
Amoafowaa Sefa Cecilia © August 2018
Photo Credit: Google Pics