WinterABC2021: The Prince and his Bride Part One

Ever wondered what makes an epic love story? The kind that is immortalised in books and minds, the one that lasts forever. What exactly is the key ingredient to this? Is it being star-crossed lovers like Romeo and Juliet or sharing the same passion like Bonnie and Clyde? This story is about two lovers from a forgotten village in Africa who will never have documentaries and movies about them. This is the best kind of love, the kind that is felt deeply but not widely.

Kijani, meaning warrior was born during the coldest year the villagers had ever experienced. The weather was so gloomy that his first cries came out in a haze of vapour. His skin was a pasty white and many feared that the heir to the throne would not survive the day, but like his name, the King’s son was a warrior. By the following winter, he was chasing the royal guards around the mud and grass houses as fast as his chubby legs could carry him. At the age of four, he managed to astonish his father’s council with his wisdom and eagerness to learn all about their culture. He was truly a king in the making.

On his seventeenth birthday, Kijani met the most beautiful girl he had ever laid eyes upon, even more beautiful than his mother, the Queen, who was considered the most beautiful woman in the whole kingdom. Zara was her name. Her voice alone had the eloquent prince dumbstruck.

“Have you lost your words?” she mocked him with laughter dancing around her eyes. She did not wait for a response but skipped away, her bracelets clinking in the wind. The prince, embarrassed for being at loss of words, chased after her. Zara darted behind one tree and the next, moving lightly on her feet. The young prince had never met anyone who could move that fast, let alone a girl! He chased after her with renewed vigour, knowing he could not be bested by a woman.

“You can hide but I will always seek for you!” he shouted into the trees.

“Only if I let you catch me, “came a reply from right behind him. The prince slowly turned around and smiled at her. Looking into her eyes, he blurted the first thing that came to his mind.

“One day I’m going to marry you”

“Is that a royal command? “she asked.

“Not exactly “the prince responded with embarrassment.

The prince returned to the palace and asked around about Zara but the girl was a true mystery. All anyone could tell him was that she lived on the edge of the kingdom with her grandmother. Over the following weeks, he watched her every move, he knew all her routines and practically inserted himself in her life and she had no choice but to entertain him. He walked her to the stream to fetch water, he helped her in the fields and on occasion, when he went hunting, brought her game. He was a man on a mission, to win the heart of the beautiful Zara.

The wedding was set for the first full moon after the harvest. The excitement was palpable throughout the kingdom. It was to be the first royal wedding in many moons. Beer was brewed and meat was hung in the sun to dry, flowers were picked to make the rosiest of perfumes. The week leading to the ceremony, Kijani and Zara never had a moment to spare, Zara was staying with the village women learning everything about married life and Kijani’s friends dragged him through fun and games one last time. On the night before the wedding, he walked to the river where they first met and found Zara sitting by the bank tossing pebbles in the river. Without turning, she spoke to him.

“You know it’s against tradition to see me the night before the wedding”

“I could have been a murderer”

“Being attuned to you has become second nature.” Zara turned around and beckoned him over with her hand. The moon bathed her in its glow, casting an almost angelic halo around her.

“What are you staring at?” she asked him flashing her radiant smile, the one that had him dumbstruck many weeks before.

“Come sunrise, I will make a vow before the ancestors and our people to be yours till I rest with my fathers. I didn’t know that one person could fill my heart the way you have done” Zara did not say a word as he walked towards her and settled behind her and shielded her from the night with his arms and legs. She leaned against his chest and together they watched the sun rise, the last before they became man and wife.

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