No wood for the fireplace...
A thirteen year old orphan
Lost in the forest.
Just enough to well up some jealousy, greed and contempt.
Odinjo goes in search of her life fortunes.
No child should be left unattended. And no child should be told to gather firewood on her own, not even if that child was an orphan.
Well that is exactly what happens in "Fortunes of the Forgotten Forest". But every cloud, they say, has a silver lining; and Nwat'oma finds herself lost and at her wits end.
Step in the step sister, Odinjo, wanting a great portion of the bounty, and things begin to turn sour.
Nwat’oma managed to get a big log of wood and steadied it on her head, then made to go home. It was only then that she realised she was lost.
Nwat’oma began to cry in the forest, wondering how she would find her way back home. She walked and walked until the sun began to set and darkness started to cover the forest’s green canopy. Nwat’oma was very scared she would never get back home again.
She crossed a small river, climbed over a hill and went past a very large tree. After walking for a long time, she crossed over another river, climbed over another hill and saw that she was back where she started, the very large tree.
She walked through some marshes, avoided a swamp until she found herself in an open area covered with giant mushrooms. Some were only a few inches tall, but most of them were as tall as palm trees.
Luckily, she saw a hut in the distance. Even though she was very hungry and extremely tired, Nwat’oma began to run to the little house.
There was a small wooden gate but it was broken in places. The gate hung from gathered ropes and one of the hinges was broken and loose. Nwat’oma went through the gate and it fell to the ground as she shut it behind her. She stopped to mend the gate before going towards the house.
The hut had no door, not even a curtain. The walls were made of mud and the roof was covered with some old thatch. Even though it was almost dark outside, there were some fish left out for the sun to dry, but even with the impending darkness, no one had taken them inside.
‘Is anybody home?’ Nwat’oma asked as she walked very slowly into the hut.
No one answered, but Nwat’oma did not go fully inside.
‘The door is open; can I come in?’ asked Nwat’oma, still very scared. ‘The fish is getting damp outside, so I’ll bring them inside for you.’
No one came to the door, so Nwat’oma looked around, took the drying fish into the house, and looked around for somewhere safe to keep them.
There was only one room. It was also a kitchen. In one side of the room, there was a bed, also made of mud and a flimsy looking mat.
She found there was a pile of dirty calabashes used for a previous meal. Looking out the window, Nwat’oma saw that there was a brook, flowing slowly so she got some water and washed the calabashes. When she was done with the dirty calabashes, Nwat’oma filled the water pot. By the time she was done, it was dark outside.
There was a small pot kept warm by the fire in the kitchen area, but even though Nwat’oma was very hungry, she did not look inside it. Instead, she sat and waited for the owner of the humble hut to return.
While she waited, Nwat’oma was tempted to open the pot by the fire, or to eat the nice looking fish steaks drying on the tray she had taken in. She licked her lips and swallowed expectantly, hoping the home owner would return soon.
With darkness fallen upon the hut, the forest came alive. Crickets were chirping, owls hooted and while the bats flapped their tiny wings, Nwat’oma heard the busy mosquitoes looking for their next meal.
Nwat’oma continued waiting.