When Waridi woke up, two thoughts hit him. First, that he was on dry land, as opposed to the middle of the sea when his boat capsized and two, that he was naked. He groaned as he rolled off the hard ground and to his feet, looking around at the dense forest he found himself in. Some feet away, there was a huge grotesque tree with green-gray limbs and no leaves. Just huge, ugly intertwined limbs twisting and turning all over the place.
Where was he?
How did he get here?
He looked down at his naked body. Where in the world were his clothes?
He walked away from the tree, watching his step as he left, making sure not to trip on its very visible roots that looked even uglier than its limbs. He wondered what sort of tree it was as he made his way to the only visible path in the foilage, where the ground was as bare as the ground around the tree unlike the rest of the area.
A familiar sound reached him, and he hurried forward a second before he realised what the sound was – the sound of the waves. Maybe he would find his boat. It didn’t matter though, he thought. If he could find water and figure out where he had washed up on, then he could swim home. His quick pace turned into a run as he raced towards the sound of water, the path leading him on until he burst out on the shore.
It was a narrow beach of rocks and in a few steps he was in stepping in the water, with the waves lapping at his feet, riding up his thighs before going back out again. He forced himself to look around.
Figure out where you are, before you go diving in, he told himself, trying to tamp down the desire to just go, go, go.
But there was no figuring anything out. All his eyes could see was water and sun. He looked behind him, and saw that the forest he had run out of was actually a small island. Probably a sand bank that had grown into this lush place. Then again, that tree shouldn’t be able to grow on a sand bank, he mused, and wondered if Doneyifa would know what kind of tree it was. She knew about those sorts of things, working on her mother’s farm since she was six.
He shook his head again. Now was not the time to be thinking of trees, or farms or his woman. There would be time enough when he got back home. He looked at the sun and wondered how long he had been passed out. It had been near dusk when a wave had hit his boat so hard that it had overturned. He frowned, wondering with a great deal of confusion and not a small amount of shame how he could have possibly drowned. Did he hit his head when he fell?Not now, he thought once more, as he looked at the end endless waters stretched out before him. He had to get back home before people thought he was dead.
He debated picking a direction and just swimming in a straight line. There were seven Izon islands, and he was sure to get to one or bump into a boat from one of them whichever direction he went. Decision made, he stepped forward, ready to dive in, then stepped back when a woman with skin as black as night and hair as full as a raffia skirt rose up suddenly from the water as a particularly large wave came in. She was naked and cackling.
“What sorcery is this?” Waridi thundered, furious at this strange, naked woman who sought to frighten him. “Are you the one who brought me here? What did you do with my clothes?”
The woman grinned, appearing delighted at his ire, as she slowly perused his naked form.
“As much as I have always admired the male form, I am not the one who undressed you, or brought you here”, she said, sauntering forward towards him. Waridi stood his ground, forcing himself to keep his gaze on her face and her face alone.
“Who are you? What is this place?” his voice shaking, as she reached him and circled him, biting her lip.
To be continued.
Inspired by Donald Tombia’s comment in yesterday’s post