"Excuse me mam but do I know you?". "No sir you don't" replied Alice. Heart pounding palms sweating she was a wreck. Born a princess in March 1997 but now just a regular Joe she had done the unthinkable. Daughter to the king and queen of Southern Nigeria she was born into wealth. From having her very own chauffeur to three security cars to ensure her safety at all times. But these 23 years were anything but all rosy.
In the kingdom at 14 years of age, girls were normally introduced to the topic of being someone's wife and taught how to treat a man. Alice took the class but found herself waiting anxiously for the kingdom's elders(teachers) to get to "How to be yourself". They never got to that and so she took it upon herself to question her mother about it.
"Mom how do you do it?" She enquired. "I'm all ears my darling " the mother replied. "How do you ensure that you retain the core you while being the queen"? Alice proceeded. Hopeful for an enlightening response disappointment filled her face when her mother opened her mouth. "I don't need to retain the core me. Your father's commands, wishes and desires are my core and I live solely to serve them". Not sure how to respond to that Alice took to playing tennis to stop herself from overthinking it. On the tennis court she found herself replaying her mother's words in her head over and over. She couldn't put her finger on why what she said disturbed her all she knew was that it did.
At a dead end she reached out to her father. King Asufah was a busy man but managed to lend her an ear for a short while before bursting out of the room. "Father I'm a bit lost and would appreciate your guidance at the moment. " She started the conversation. "I'm all ears my darling." He went. "Could you kindly tell me what a woman is" She proceeded. "hahaha! Village elders not teaching you enough is it? Well a woman is one with a husband, one who obeys and ensures that her husband's dreams and vision are realised." King Asufah replied. "What about her dreams father?". "My dreams are her dreams" The King said.
Mental paralysis took over her (Alice) body and she found herself in a spot she knew she had to get out of. At 15 the topic of arranged marriages was introduced and she learned that in about three years she was to be someone's wife. She planned on being many things but being someone's wife and "dream adopter" was not on her list. What she didn't know was that her father was already arranging her marriage so as to sweeten the negotiations for an open trade route between his kingdom and its neighbour.
She continued living her life in the dark until Oneday when she was told that she on her eighteenth birthday would be married off to the Prince of Agaga(A state in just outside Southern Nigeria). She outright refused to do so which was considered disrespectful by most elders involved with the royal buffoonery. "How could she refuse to execute an order from the king when her mother does so elegantly?" Some elders rhetorically enquired to themselves.
Ameli (The king's trusted cook) was the only one in the palace Alice was free around. "I don't want to marry someone I don't love under the belief that I'll learn to do so with time under my father's fist. I want a life of my own where I am free to follow my heart and pursue my dreams. Is that too much for everyone to comprehend?". Poor Ameli had to give a suitable answer and so she went " It's easy to comprehend. The problem is that once a bad thing is done generation after generation it starts appearing like it's the right thing to do and anything other than doing it is considered disrespecting the culture. Then they put a billion dollar trust fund that you can only access when you get married to the chosen partner aside for you."
Learning that there was a billion dollars somewhere with her name on it but marriage approved by her father was the only way to get to it annoyed her. Just before her eighteenth birthday she decided to take the kingdom to court for practicing what she referred to as a "deliberate attempt to steal womens lives and turn them into trophies". Her father was so fired up and unsurprisingly so was her mother.
On her eighteenth birthday court proceedings began and it's safe to say that it was an overly eventful day because the royal family of Agaga was also in attendance. They however were not there for the court proceedings but to marry their son off. Anything other than doing what was "right" for generations was disrespecting the culture and they were not about to allow that to happen. Court or no court the wedding had to go on. Alice obviously refused and KING Asufah was given a week to get her daughter right by the Agaga kingdom. This further strengthened Alice's case.
In the following days her father's lawyers brought forward her sisters' marriages to try demonstrate that what King Asufah was doing was empowering women as her daughters instantly became billionaires upon marriage. However that information was interpreted as a way to force the kids into marriage by the king...helping his case in no way.
The day came when Alice had to take to the box and so she did. "I don't want to be a woman because I've been made to understand that she has no mind of her own but is merely an extension of her husband's. I don't want to get married because I've been made to understand that in marriage the woman follows the husband's orders blindly. I don't want to be an overnight billionaire because then I'd lose myself. Last but not least...I don't want to be my parent's child anymore nor to be affiliated with their Kingdom and its riches in any way. Thank you." The court erupted with utter silence and the Case was respectfully handed to Alice. The king was forced to change the laws and Alice had officially disowned her parents and successfully avoided being an overnight billionaire.
Two years later at twenty years old, in tracksuits and sneakers she met a man who asked her " Excuse me mam but do I know you?". Her reaction was sweaty as she thought the man was one of her disowned father's lackeys sent to harm her. Only to find out that the man worked in the same building as she did but they rarely came across each other. Three years later they are engaged and going strong by the day.