My childhood friend asked that I join him to meet a Yoruba king whose daughter he wants to marry. I've prostrated today than I've done on similar but non-royal settings. This one has a different dimension; there are palace routines to obey. My friend, suspecting mischiefs from me, kept reiterating palace instructions, "Chris, remove your cap, Chris, full prostrate, Chris, let's stand up, Chris-this-Chris-that, let's prostrate again!" He never said that to the other member of the entourage.
The king emerged from a nearby room and we were cued to stand up. Again! Then we prostrated. Again!!!! He's joined by a retinue and his heir - Aremo, as they called him. My friend's wife-to-be sits close to her mum, preening like a bird.
The king welcomed us. I was busy looking at the palace. It was my first time in a palace, and interestingly, it's on an account of love. Everything is royally here: the proud and stuffy chairs, the big wall portraits. There are portraits of the president and the state governor too, which I suspect are symbolic recognition of political powers. The two politicians monitor proceedings from the wall as though we require their permission too.
The king started to speak. An enlightened & brilliant man, proud to mention his 40th reign as king. My friend had told me his daughter on whose account we came is his 15th child from one of his 9 wives! He regaled us with stories about culture and civilization, about the cohabitation of Christianity, Islam and native faiths in his kingdom. Then – drum roll - he stressed the terms-and-conditions of being husband to his daughter. I think I caught a proud look on his daughter's face as though she'd been waiting for the rules of engagement. Then it was over.
We moved to another room and wow, they brought food. Royal food. My friend had stupidly announced that I might not eat because "Chris wastes food. He doesn't eat. Give him small portion". Well, it’s true that I have a horrible eating habit but I still gave him a look from hell. No way I was going to miss out from the royal delicacy. The fishes, especially. Assorted. As usual, I asked about the different types of fish just because of that one fish that disgusts me - Catfish. I pushed it far from me. Then I ate. I stained my white cloth with pepper, accidentally.
On our way back, lover boy started to look at me curiously. "Chris, what have I done now?” Well, nothing. I just wonder how you fell in love with a princess and you even left the daughters of the Kings of Surulere, Ikeja, Gbagada, Ikoyi, Lekki, etc and came all the way here!
"Chris, it's love. You have to go far for it."
"Shut up, don't wax deep with me. I spilled pepper on myself for this love!"
"You'll know when it's your turn."
"Hey, careful how you talk to a King's in-law."