Click HERE for previous episodesKeria was Chief Udoh’s only surviving child. Once upon a time, he had two beautiful daughters but he lost his older daughter to a strange sickness. It was rumoured that she was part of ‘cursed ones’ people never said the word Anje. They felt the word was forbidden so they referred to Anjes as ‘cursed ones’Apart from the king, Chief Udoh was the richest man in Ane. He got his wealth from farming, he had so many lands. He had a lot of people working for him, mostly men. His wife died immediately Keria was born and this made Keria to be her father’s favourite. Circumstances made the bond between Chief Udoh and his daughter Keria to be stronger, his first daughter died when she was 15 years old.Chief Udoh and the king of Ane were best of friends; Chief Udoh was the king’s right hand man. Keria was betrothed to Kesena, the prince of Ane. The death of Keria’s older sister ruined everything because it was rumoured that she was a ‘cursed one’“My son can’t get married to your daughter because your family is polluted. Your first daughter was a ‘cursed one’ my friend.” said the king.“I understand my friend.” Chief Udoh replied.In reality Chief Udoh was greatly hurt but he kept his cool, this did not ruin their friendship. Chief Udoh believed that if Kesena and Keria were meant for each other then nothing would be able to separate them, not even Kesena’s father, and the king. Anjes are always ridiculed in Ane; people never associated themselves with the ‘cursed ones’Keria was a humble, the wealth of her father didn’t block her senses. The whole of Ane made fun of her when the proposed marriage between her and Prince Kesena was called off. That particular period was nasty. She wanted to run away to Ame but she did not have the courage, she never insulted anyone for making fun of her. She vowed that she was going to do something great with her life.The next day, she met the prince on her way to the market and it was so evident that he was still in love with her.“I had to leave without my mother; it is the hardest thing ever. I lost my sister some years later and all your father could do was to deprive me of the one man I love.”“I will talk to my father; I still want to marry you.”“I have moved on Kes, you should move on too. Goodbye.”Keria started to walk away and Prince Kes held her back and tried to talk some sense into her.“But you love me.” he said.“Sometimes love is not enough. Leave me alone or I’ll report you to your father.”“Stop acting like a little girl. I love you; you love me and that is all that counts.”Keria continued to rant and Prince Kes kissed her immediately. Keria wanted to die of shyness.“I should be on my way.” She replied, avoiding his gaze.Kes smirked and said, “fine by me but can I kiss you again?”Keria shot him a hot glance, Kes knew he was not invited; Ruke was around the corner listening to their conversation. After Kes left, Ruke came to confront Keria. Ruke was Keria’s rival and was more beautiful than Keria, she was tall and dark skinned. Ruke was wearing a blue strapless dress. Ruke was so angry; she tried so hard to avoid slapping Keria. As Keria walked, she cried because she knew she had lost her chance at being happy.One day, Ruke went to the palace to see Kes, she spent some hours with him, as she was about to leave she saw Keria and she lost her cool. Keria didn’t like quarrelling so she told Ruke that she came because her father sent her on an errand.“Leave him alone! He is mine.” snapped Ruke.Prince Kes was very angry, he sent Ruke away and ordered her never to return back.“She infuriates me I can never get married to her.” he said.“Why?” asked Keria.“Because I love someone else.” He replied.“We can’t be together.” replied Keria.“I was not referring to you.”Keria was obviously embarrassed; she turned to leave and Prince Kes held her hands and told her that he was kidding.“I really love you Keria, we can make this work. I am ready to give up the throne.”“Don’t you get it Kesena? Staying away is hard enough. I have never loved anyone this way. This is crushing me. Do not tell me you love me because….”Prince Kes did not allow her to finish her statement before walking away, he was so sad. Keria took offence that he walked out on her.“Come back here Kesena because I am not done with you.”Prince Kes walked back and frowned, he was puzzled, one minute he was sure he understood her and the next he was lost.“I’m done with you Keria, I promise not to bother you again. I will walk up to Ruke and plead with her to forgive me and I know she will because she is dumb.”Keria walked away, as she walked she sobbed. She wanted to leave Ane but she could not because the only neighboring village was Amei, they were referred to as ‘water people’Ane and Amei lived peacefully in the south-south region of Nigeria before migrating to the south west of Nigeria. It was speculated that land the people of Ane occupied had a lot of crude oil in it such that it ruined crops and aquatic life. Farming became a major challenge. Omo who was the leader of the Ane people proposed migration and most of the chiefs were not in support.“It is the maker’s gift to us, I believe we can find a way to make good use of it.” said one of the chiefs.“This land is cursed and I demand we leave before death snatches us.” replied OmoOti was Omo’s husband and he was a very fierce ruler before his death. There was no freedom of speech. The people of Ane had no choice; it was either obedience or death. Oti solicited for help from the Amei people to make a very large vessel that could house the whole of Ane. The ‘water people’ (Amei people) were so skilled at making boats so making a vessel was no big deal to them. It took so many months but the dream was actualized.The ‘water people’ double crossed Oti, the vessel they built could house the people of Ane and Amei, Oti was very exasperated.“I promised to reimburse you richly but now I can’t. I gave you stern instructions. You are not competent to rule Amei.” Oti was referring to the ruler of Amei.The ruler of Amei told Oti that the people of Amei were going to accompany the people of Ane or the deal was off. That resulted into a taut situation between Ane and Amei. Truth be told, the Amei people benefitted a lot from the Ane people.The Amei people were mostly fishermen but the people of Ane were hunters, farmers, potters etc. the list was endless. The people of Ane were very enterprising. They were from the lineage of Memuna and Oris. The people of Ane were not restricted to only sea food like the Amei people and healers were so scarce.In Ane, greeting was done by kneeling with both knees when one was greeting an elder. Men used to greet each other by using the back of their right hands to hit each other. Polygamy was allowed in Ane as long as the man had the resources.The sign of betrothal was a necklace. It was mandatory for the crowned prince of Ane to be a skilled warrior. The sigil of the Ane people was an eagle; all Ane indigenes had the tattoo of an eagle on their right arm. Ane was named after the god Ane.When the people of Ane were to migrate, some stayed behind because they felt the maker had given them a gift. Many years after, they learnt how to harness the gift and they became rich. Omo became very jealous when she learnt that the strange thing found on the land was bringing riches to the lot that stayed behind.Omo was a tyrant, she was so mean and sometimes she killed a whole family and she did not feel any remorse because she felt she was helping the maker. Her right hand woman, Memuna questioned her actions and she laughed and said. “They are all evil and they need to die. I am doing what the maker ordered. I lost Oti my other half because of what I stand for, I will keep fighting evil.”As time passed, Omo began to feel insecure so she started depending on black magic to protect herself. Memuna begged her to stop but her plea fell on deaf ears.“Omo you claim to serve the maker but you are doing the exact opposite by delving into the dark one’s path.”“I need to protect myself, I lost Oti and I can’t bear to lose my unborn children.”“Unborn children?” Memuna was so amazed.“Yes, I carry three babies.” replied Omo.“How did you find out Omo?”“It is so unimportant.”Memuna was from a distant land, she was sold as a slave to Omo’s father. Memuna was hard working. She gained favour from Omo’s parents and she became part of the family. She was treated as Omo’s sister.When Omo got married, Memuna accompanied her to the king’s palace. Memuna had a pierced nose and a very long hair which was often braided. Memuna was a jewelry lover; she had a beautiful dark skin. She was tall and long necked.Memuna was very loyal to Omo; there were so many times Memuna had to kill to prove her loyalty to Omo. Memuna had a child a year before Omo got pregnant. Memuna gave birth to a very beautiful daughter named Oris. Oris was Memuna’s only child. Oris had a daughter who died at child birth. Years later, it was rumoured that Memuna and Omo had passed on.The people of Ane wanted their deaths probed because their bodies were never found. The Amei people forgave Omo for the things she had done but they never forgot. The people of Ane and Amei tried so hard to maintain peace but the relationship was a taut one.I got to Badagry very late; I had a hard time locating Ane. No one seemed to know about Ane. We were lucky to see Mena and as good as it was it was weird.“What are you doing here Mena?”“I am on my way home.”“Hop in.”I really did not want to start asking questions, it was too late and I was so fagged out but that did not mean I was not perturbed. I wanted to tell the driver to turn but I resisted the urge.“Stop the car this minute.”I alighted and beckoned to Mena to do the same. I almost strangled her.“Who sent you?” I asked.Mena looked so petrified, “be calm Jessa, I was sent to get you.”I released my grip and tried to listen to what she had to say.“Gran told me to come get you because Ane can’t be located by outsiders. There is this rumour that an ancestor of ours made a spell to shield Ane from the outside world for the sole aim of protection and that is why your driver has being driving in circles.”I looked at Mena and trust me she wasn’t making sense.“Are you high on vodka?” I asked.“Had I not found you on time, you could have been murdered. Omo had a million enemies and they would not hesitate to take their pound of flesh.”“Who the hell is Omo?”“Err your great grandmother and we are unsure if she is dead or alive”“I do not want to have anything to do with her!”I walked away from Mena, I was so puzzled. She caught up with me and I decided to ask her nicely.“Mena what am I doing here?”“I do not know but you will be safe with us.”We were attacked and that was the only thing I could remember. I woke up in a strange house; Mena was at my bed side.“Wake up Jessa.”“I am already awake. What happened?”“I do not know.”“What do you mean you do not know?”“We were attacked, I blacked out and the next place I found myself was in Gran’s place.”“I am hungry.” I replied, touching my flat belly.Mena dashed out to get me food and she came back with a bowl of pepper soup. The pepper soup contained fresh fish and shrimps. Mena left as soon as she brought the food. I wondered why; I enjoyed the pepper soup. Mena took so long so I decided to go look for her. The house was so big. As soon as I climbed down the wooden stairs. I saw Mena talking to an older woman and they were arguing.“She is asking a lot of questions gran what will I tell her?”“You must not tell her a word child. She must finish what she came here for before leaving.”I went back to the room gently; I wanted to avoid being noticed. I was afraid and I thought I was going to be stuck here forever. I began to panic and when Mena came into the room I fought so hard to be calm.“Mena I’d like to leave Ane after I collect my rejection letter from my Place of Primary Assignment and after I do all necessary things at the local government office.”Mena told me that she did not believe what I just said because I already told her that I was going to stay. Mena said there was no school or local government office at Ane. Mena’s Gran came in and I was so angry that I forgot my manners. I scowled at her and stormed out of the house and I was oblivious of where I was headed. My whole world had turned upside down. My thoughts drifted to Mason and all I could do was cry more. I vowed never to love again. I thought about the first time I met Mason and how rude I was to him.
Written by Kezi Patrick Angela