The people of Umuonta were thrilled when the land knew water again. It had been years since the last rain fell. Several consultations proved the land was cursed.
The day it had rained, a child was born, in a hut not so far from the king’s palace. He laid in the queen’s arms; the happy mother filled with joy. “Now I have a son,” he looked to where his mother—one of the maids she had given to the king—laid without breath. “Throw her in the evil forest!” she said to the guards, not blinking twice.
The queen had yearned for a child of her own, but was unable to conceive. Calling Olamma to assist despite the king’s refusal, she was able to have a child of her own—an heir for the king. “Your Highness!”
King Ahaeze marveled, seeing the child has been born.
“He is here.”
A feast was thrown to celebrate his birth.
Prince Iheanacho grew up to be just like his father. He looked nothing like the queen, but had his mother’s heart. At age ten, he could do some things kids his age couldn’t do.
“Obi, the meat you requested for… is here.” The small boy said to his father’s hearing. He had overheard the king tell Dante, one of the finest hunters in the land, to go into the forest.
Ijetu was known to be the home of really wild animals. Despite this, the little prince had gone and returned unharmed.
“May the gods forbid!” Lolo entered, staring at the child. “My prince, what have we here?” she looked at the wild meat, and back at her son.
“A meat for Your Highness, dearest mother,” he said not like the child he was, presenting the meat. “Father—” he called out with arms outstretched.
The villagers wondered what kind of a child the queen had birthed. He would sit among the elders and contribute when they talked. His wisdom was one they marveled at.
“You are right, my prince.” this you would hear when he spoke.
The queen was starting to get jealous of the boy. He wasn’t her biological son, this made her even angrier. She devised a plan to kill him, asking the maids to prepare his favourite—onugbu soup.
“Let me see how he will talk after eating this food.” She grinned at a job well done after poisoning the food.
Unknowingly to her, the village drunkard was watching from the tree behind the hut. The udala tree was the perfect spot to view everything that was going on inside. The queen thinking she had succeeded, left to call the prince, and met him in the king’s chambers.
“My King, tell me how the lion became the king of the jungle,”
The wicked queen made her presence known. “You never cease to amaze me, my prince.” she said and stretched out her arms.
The king beamed with all smiles. “He is indeed his father’s son,” he remarked.
Prince Iheanacho smiled, hearing his father praise.
“Your food is ready.” Queen Uchenna announced.
The king and his wife walked out of the hut, the little prince leading the way.
A haggard-looking man appeared from nowhere—a bottle held in the air, with a chewing stick stuck in his mouth. “You… can n-not eat that food—”
The wicked queen called to the palace guards.
“My prince!” the haggard-looking fellow clasped the prince’s hands.
“Do not touch him!” Queen Uchenna pulled the prince away. “How dare you match into my den?”
“Can’t you see he is drunk?” the king spoke at last.
“Mother, what is happening?”
The queen forced a smile.
“Your mo-mother has poisoned the food.”
The wicked queen roared. “That’s a lie!”
“Say the truth or you shall die—” a voice came from nowhere, and the wicked queen fell.
“Eei! I will confess—” an invisible cane came on her back. “I said I will confess na!” she yelled to everyone’s surprise.
“My queen!” King Ahaeze was baffled, and his son not left out.
“Mother, why are you shouting?”
Queen Uchenna shouted again, and said, “I will confess.” she began telling them how she had poisoned the prince’s food and what had happened nine years ago.
“Ah!” the king placed his hands on his head. “Uchenna, i meela—”
The queen started vomiting, and then died at the spot.
Prince Iheanacho grew into a fine young man. He was crowned king when the right time came, and like his father, he ruled…