THE PRINCESS ROAD
Chris drives recklessly.
He overtakes wrongly, drawing the angry horns of drivers. His attention is divided between driving and looking out for a wedding procession.
His face is an epitome of distress.
He fumbles out his phone and dials Effe’s number. The call is picked.
Effe? Is that you, Effe? Hello, Effe?
This is her mother, Chris. Her phone is with me.
Oh, Mrs. Opoku! I need to speak to Effe. Please, please, let me speak to her.
I will not let you speak to her! Chris, why now? Why do you want to wreck her life so much? Please leave the poor girl alone. Let my daughter have some peace wai, Chris Bawa, aaaaaaba!
You don’t understand, Mrs. Opoku. I need to speak to her! There is something she must know.
TODAY? After all these painful years it is today, her wedding day, that you choose to speak to her? I’m sorry, Chris. She’s had enough of you and your childishness. Just let her be. Let her be happy for once. She’s suffered too much because of you. Rupert is good to her. He adores her. Who knows, he may be able to bring back the smile to my girl’s face, the smile you destroyed!
Oh, please, Mommy! Oh, please, I need to speak to Effe!
Keep away from her, Chris! You had your chance and you blew it. Effe doesn’t want to speak to you ever again! Get that through your thick head and leave her alone.
She cuts the line.
He redials and listens.
The phone rings, but Mrs. Opoku cuts him off repeatedly.
Okay, one of her friends. Her best friend. Yes, somebody who’ll be her maid. Who, who, WHO? Yes, Sylvia…do I still have her number. Yes, yes, yes, I think so…lemme see…
Chris slows down, then swings off the long stretch of road and parks.
He flips through his phone contact lists, selects Sylvia, and dials.
She picks the call.
Get lost, asshole. Aboafunu bi!
Sylvia? This is Chris!
Yeah, I know. Just get lost. You imbecile. Kwasea like that!
She cuts the line.
Just then he sees five white Chrysler cars!
It is a beautifil sight, but it cuts into his heart like hot daggers through butter!
They are passing right by!
There is no question that this is the bride’s procession because the cars are decorated with the same gold and white colours he saw at the church!
Chris desperately swings his car unto the road, cuts right across to the other side, and heads straight for the last two cars!
People scream loudly, cars blast their horns with concern. Fists are waved angrily at him.
The fourth car passes, missing Chris’ car by inches. Chris parks across the street, cleanly cutting off the last car in the procession which comes to a screeching halt!
The fourth car has now parked, and already three men have jumped out.
Chris gets out of the car and approaches the fifth car slowly, praying that Effe will be inside.
Chris is unaware that the three men have closed in behind him. He walks slowly towards the fifth car.
The driver also gets out.
He is a huge man, and he is angry. He rushes at Chris, speaking angrily.
He tries to push Chris back.
Chris slams a fist into his face, and he falls down with a shocked cry of pain.
Suddenly the three men from the other car grab him. Chris struggles with them furiously, sending one crashing, but the others push him to his knees and down on the hard road.
The back door of the fifth car opens. A foot clad in white stockings and a beautiful white shoe steps out, and then she emerges.
She is the most beautiful girl he has ever seen! She is dressed in her wedding gown, and she looks so stunning that tears come to Chris’ eyes. Her veil is up, and she regards him with shocked eyes.
Stop it. Don’t hurt him! Let him go!
Other people from the other cars have arrived on the scene too. They include Mr. and Mrs. Opoku, Sylvia, Dr. Anaman and a few others.
Chris, my boy! What’re you doing here? Get up from the street boy!
Ei Chris Bawa! What calamity are you bringing on my daughter? Why do you want to bring bad omens on her wedding day?
Let the boy be, woman. Chris, you’re indeed causing a big mess. What do you want?
The men release Chris and he gets to his feet.
His agonized eyes see only Effe.
Oh, how he loves her!
Can we talk, Effe? For a moment, please? Give me just five minutes!
No, Chris, not now, not ever! Let her be! She’s getting married, and we’re already late!
That’s not your decision, Ivy! Effe, my angel, do you want to talk to him? We’re causing a big scene here.
Chris. What do you want?
Cars continue to honk angrily.
Listen, you better get your car off the street, Chris, before the police come. You’re blocking the flow of traffic!
One of the drivers climbs into Chris’ car and drives it off the street.
The driver of the fifth car also drives unto the sidewalk and parks.
Chris moves towards Effe, and she meets him.
They stare at each other. The tears well up in Chris’ eyes first, and then slowly they fall down his cheeks.
Effe does not speak, but her lips tremble as her eyes well up with tears too, and slowly they spill down her lovely cheeks.
Four years ago Mr. Afful came to my office. He told me you and Bright Koffie were lovers, that you’d been taking my money, the one from our joint Savings Account, and giving it to him. I was a fool. I didn’t ask you. I checked the account, and realized you had withdrawn the money. I believed Afful.
Bright told me about it this morning. He said you followed me to the Sports Club. I didn’t know Mr. Afful was involved.
Oh, Effe! Afful lured me to the Sports club. I saw you and Bright together. You were behaving like an intimate couple. I was convinced you were lovers!
I told you about him. I told you about Kofi Panyin.
Damn it, Effe! How was I supposed to know the Kofi Panyin you told me about was Bright Koffie?
You could’ve asked me, Chris, when you saw us together!
Yes, I know I was a fool in letting Afful manipulate me, but you could’ve told me you were transferring the money into a new account!
Yes, I should have, Chris. Under normal circumstances I would have. But I was terrified because Elaine spoke to me and said you were going to withdraw all the money from the account and tell me we didn’t have money to begin a married life. I panicked, I guess. I wanted to invest the money, and get more for our life.Also I wanted to prevent you from withdrawing the money.
Oh, God! Afful told me there was more, and foolish as I was, I believed him. He called me to the Ocean Front Hotel, where I witnessed you meeting Mr. Joshua Darkwa.
You were there? Oh, God, Chris! I wasn’t meeting him! His son, Stanley, was in a bad shape. He wanted to commit suicide! I was just helping out! I was just trying to make him see that killing himself was not the answer to his problems!
(eyes flooded with tears)
I didn’t know that, Effe! I didn’t know! I was with Afful, and for three hours you were inside the hotel room with that man! I believed the worst!
Oh, Chris! Why didn’t you just ask me about it, and why didn’t you come and break in the hotel door or something? I would’ve done that! I came to your house after leaving the hotel. I wanted to tell you about Stanley, and how you would also kill me if you left me, but then, that awful thing happened!
Oh, yeah. About that. You were making a video for me, right?
Yes, Chris. With that camcorder you bought me! Maybe…
(holding up a hand, cutting her short)
Michael, my friend, found the camcorder. He just brought it to me at the church premises. It captured everything. That drink Steve gave you was drugged on Elaine’s orders!
Steve? Elaine’s orders? He told me you’ve realized you made a mistake in choosing me. He and your mother both told me you still loved Elaine, and wanted to leave me but didn’t know how. Steve later called and told me the rape scene was planned by you so that you could get rid of me.
(face melting with shock)
Steve told you that? Oh, God!
That day your mother told you I hit her… I didn’t, Chris. You must believe me. She was telling me to leave you alone, that you loved Elaine. She fell accidentally. I don’t know if you believe me, but I never hit her!
I know. She confessed to me after I confronted her with evidence from Dr. Anaman’s examination. That video showed how Steve drugged the drink and tried to rape you. It shows how you fought him off. Oh, Effe…
But there’s still something else, isn’t it? I can see it in your eyes. What is it, Chris?
(glances at the other people)
I can’t say it here, Effe, not with all these people present.
Say it, Chris. I have nothing to hide.
No, Effe. I can’t say it here. Afful took me to the Gentlemen’s Perk too.
The what? I didn’t catch that, Chris.
Don’t let us do this here, Effe, please.
I’m not going anywhere with you, Chris. Let’s get this over with, right here. I told you, I have nothing to hide.
(dropping his eyes, hurting)
Afful took me to the Gentlemen’s Perk Nightclub, where I saw you performing.
Me? At a night club? Performing what? What’re you talking about, Chris?
Don’t lie to me, Effe! I was there! You saw me! You begged the bouncers not to beat me up when I climbed unto that stage! Don’t pretend now, please, Effe! Leave me something to hold on to, at least! I saw you stripping naked! I came towards you, I was beaten…please, that’s the main reason why I broke off with you, and you know it!
Stop it, Chris! Is that how you want to justify yourself, by lying? I don’t know what you’re talking about, Chris. I think we’re done here. Please let me go.
Don’t do this, Effe, please. I saw you. You saw me! But if that’s how you want to play it, fine. I understand.
A woman’s voice breaks in from behind Chris.
A WOMAN’S VOICE
Stop harassing her. That was me, not Effe.
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The passenger door of the fifth Chrysler has opened, and a woman steps out. She is the bridesmaid.
She is the exact replica of Effe.
She looks exactly like Effe.
Chris turns and stares at Effe, and then he whirls round and stares at the woman who has gotten out of the car.
They look exactly the same.
Chris loses it then.
He begins to shake his head, and then he clamps a hand to his mouth. He looks first at Effe, and then at the new woman.
His is horrified.
Oh, God! No, don’t tell me that is also a mistake! What’s this, Effe? Who’s this?WHO ARE YOU?
This is Eyram Kedem, my long-lost twin sister! You see, when my mother took me to the Orphanage, we were twins, but Mr. Afful kept me at the orphanage and took Eyram, my sister, to another woman who ran a place for men to have fun.
(looking up at Chris)
My sister is modest. Actually, that woman operated a brothel. She brought me up. Afful always came to me when I grew up. He was my pimp. He gave me to rich men and took lots of money from them. He never told me I had a twin sister. He was the one who introduced me to the Gentlemen’s Perk. One day he came with a woman who offered me lots of money to put on a sizzling performance that night. That was the night Afful brought you to the club. I was there when you were being beaten. I didn’t know you were my own lost sister’s fiance! I just didn’t like the way the guys treated you. That was why I asked them to stop beating you. For some reason, I felt sorry for you because I knew you had been set up.
Chris can barely stand up. He stares at Effe with great fear and panic. He shakes his head, and great tears fall down his cheeks.
To cut a long story short, Jonathan Afful took ill about three years ago. He was really in a bad shape. He begged the doctors to get in touch with Effe and get her to come see him. When Effe went to see him he begged for her forgiveness and managed to scribble an address for her. He told her she had a twin and she could find her at the address. A day after that Afful suffered a massive stroke and died a week later. Effe tracked down Eyram with the address and they’ve been re-united ever since.
This woman who was working with this Afful, I think it is Elaine, son. Somehow, she and Afful put all these series of horrible incidents together!
(tears drenching her face)
Chris, my God! Sweet Jesus! You saw a stripper and thought it was me? Me, your love, a stripper? God, you never knew me, did you? I don’t think I can ever forgive you for thinking that of me! That alone should’ve told you something bad was happening!!
What was he to think, my dear girl? The young man had already been convinced you were a gold-digger capable of sleeping with old men, and a whole lot of other nonsense, and he had no idea you had a twin sister. What was he to think? I think you should put yourself in his shoes. What he could have done was to confront you with it then maybe the truth would have come out.
I was convinced that you had wronged me. I was convinced you didn’t love me. I wanted this to be true, that you had been at the club. I wanted to forgive you for that, at least, so that I can have you back. Oh, God! I saw the ugly sides of a hexagon where there were only the smooth curves of a circle. I saw a devil where only an angel dwelled! I saw truths in falsehood! I have wronged you, Effe. I don’t deserve you. I really don’t deserve you!
(clutches her heart. Her face is anguished.)
Oh, Chris! You foolish dear one! Now look at what you’ve done to us!
(walks forward and takes Effe’s hands. Their tears fall stronger.)
Do you remember that day in Dr. Anaman’s clinic, when we found each other?
How can I ever forget the day I drew my first breath, Chris Bawa?
Welcome back to my heart, Effe Kedem Opoku.
You’ll always be the owner of mine, Chris Bawa.
Their combined tears fall on their intertwined hands.
Can you, will you, for our love’s sake, please forgive me and come back to me?
(tears falling harder and heavier)
I will always love you, Chris Bawa, but you know I can’t break my promise to that dear old man! I can’t. I won’t. He’s been simply good to me. I can’t break his heart, and I can’t humiliate him.
Oh, God! And a kiss? Do I get a parting kiss? Like a souvenir. Something I will hold on to until you become mine again?
My heart tears up now, Chris. I don’t know how I’m going to be able to go through the next hour of my life! But a kiss, alas, my soul cries for it. But unfortunately I can’t give you one.
I know. A first kiss, for you, only on the altar, right?
(bringing their clamped hands to her lips)
No, Chris! I know, if you kiss me, I will take off this gown and throw it away. If you kiss me, I will be lost. I cannot go to that church. That kiss will imprison me in your kingdom for life. Oh, Chris! Oh, my heart screams! I can feel it breaking! To find you again, at this time, and lose you instantly, is killing me! But there is Rupert to think of. He doesn’t deserve the humiliation.
(kissing her knuckles)
My heart is forever shattered. Each second of my life, from now on, will be spent in agony. Each breath I take will be a pain to a heart I shattered myself because I lacked the basic ingredient for a good relationship: trust. Let this heart rot, let it kill me with its poison. No one deserves a broken heart better than me. Have a good life, Effe. And try to be happy. You deserve that. As for me, let death be my early companion!
Chris drops her hands and turns away.
The people around are all crying.
Mr. Opoku touches his arm.
Eyram embraces him.
She is crying silently.
Forgive me, Chris. I never meant to hurt you! I’m so sorry!
Mrs. Opoku touches him, and then she embraces him.
He moves on.
I love you. You’re taking my soul away, you know. For now and eternity. The pain you feel is amplified here in my heart.
Tears drown him.
He turns and enters his car.
He watches as they all board the cars.
He watches as the cars move away. His forehead falls on the steering-wheel. His body trembles with great sobs.
Suddenly a voice speaks.
Get down, son. You can’t drive. Let me take you home.
Chris looks up slowly, Dr. Anaman is standing beside the car.
You didn’t go to the wedding?
(wiping his tears with a handkerchief.)
You need a father now, son. I’m here. If you will let me.
Chris nods. He gets down, and then frantically he goes into Dr. Anaman’s stretched arms. He holds the old man tight. And then Chris begins to shake.
His whole body trembles as he wails like an infant. Chris Bawa cries his soul out…