NADIA: I didn't have to think much, I picked the call; there was no way I would see Wilson's call and ignore. Ah, for what? I wouldn't dare.
"Hello?" I said.
"Nadia, how are you? Where are you? Everyone has been looking for you!"
I was a bit disappointed. He didn't really hit the nail at the spot I was expecting.
“Nadia, I miss you. Please come home!” If he had said that, I wouldn't mind abandoning whatever goals I had and hurry back into his arms.
I cleared my throat and replied with the most polite thing I could think of, "I’m fine Wilson, I can take care of myself."
He was quiet, and it fell awkward. So I chipped in again, "I’ve enrolled myself into a food academy; I’m learning how to cook."
He remained quiet for a while, and then burst out laughing. I wondered why. Foolishly, I joined him to laugh, thinking he was actually happy for me until he burst my bubbles.
“Nadia, we both know you are terrible at that. What could you possibly learn? You would still come out a failure, or probably make a fool of yourself."
My heart rent into two; his words went deep into my membrane and stuck there. I dropped the call and buried my face in my palms.
"You would still come out a failure," these words kept repeating in my head.
He called back, but I wasn't going to pick this time around. A tear dropped from my eyes, and another, and another, till I was now sobbing.
"Hey, look whose calling!" Joyce tapped me.
I quickly sniffed and wiped my tears, trying to hide the fact that I have failed as the leader of my supposed gang.
"I heard everything; your phone was on loudspeaker, bae."
Shit! I didn't even notice, I was just too excited and eager to hear from Wilson.
"He doesn't love you, forget him!" Joyce said and went to the bathroom.
It was already 4AM, so we had to get ready for our lessons.
Although I expected Daniel to somehow have his revenge, I didn’t realise it would be sooner than I’d expected.
Just meters away from our training hall, I was bathed with a mixture of substances whose stench was probably the worst in the whole wide world. I was already close to the hall, and everyone could see that. Daniel raised the alarm;
"Is that Nadia!?"
Brenda hurried to take a peek; I looked like someone who had escaped from a sewage dung. Brenda stopped everyone from laughing and instructed that I sit out that particular lesson.
"Go and change, you look disgusting!"
Daniel gave me that wink, I didn't bother, I just felt I deserved it anyway. I was too broken to even fight back.
I just bowed my head as people gave way, holding theirs noses to help escape the stench emanating from me.
As I drew closer to my room, I bumped into someone, and we both fell.
"I am sorry, Ma. I’m sorry."
She was an old woman... God, what was I thinking? She had a broom and a dustbin in her hands, but it all spilled when I bumped into her; I didn’t even watch where I was going.
My guess is, she was one of the cleaners. But what would a woman this old be doing with this kind of job? Does she not have any grown up kids to take care of her?
"Don't worry my child, I can take care of this."
She said when I attempted to help her gather the dirt I had spilled. But I persisted and helped her till we reached the refuse dump. I wondered how she managed to stand the stench on me.
She smiled at me; I smiled back and hurried back to my room to freshen up.
DANIEL: The remaining part of our lessons that day was on how to design the Egyptian hawawshi.
Trust me, it was fascinating, as Brenda designed it into different shapes.
"Appealing your customers to your meal is not just by the taste, but by the appearance. You can make them salivate for it even before having a taste."
I agreed. It was indeed true. The way she placed it carefully on different trays; one marched with vegetable salad, another with fruit salad. And the last one appeared alluring with a cup of coffee. I was salivating just as she had presumed.
My mind trailed off to Nadia. I had arranged for some boys who could be bought with pocket change to bath her with disposed sour foods just when she was getting close to the all. They did their job well; my mum was a psychologist, so I learned from her.
My planned revenge didn't seem to have any effect on her. I felt bad, I felt guilty, because she was broken even before my attack.
NADIA: Face it ladies, there’s always this special guy in our lives whom we’ve given so much power to - power to smash our entire world. Bad news is, they always take advantage and eventually end up breaking our hearts. Until you learn to break free, they would still have that hold over you.
My hurt turned to anger; Joyce took it funny when I repeated the same words Wilson had said earlier.
"That guy really hates you, bae."
Joyce added more fuel to my anger; I had to resist the urge to break her scattered set of teeth. The only way to that was to go out for a while.
The old woman bumped into me. It was my first time strolling out. I didn't know if it was allowed or not, but I didn't care. I was actually scared, and so when I bump into her, I didn't need a prophet to tell me that my skeleton had jumped out of its skin.
"It's okay, come with me. There is something I want to show you."
I hesitated for a while, but then a guard shouted and hurried towards us, "Who's there!?"
I had no option than to quickly follow the old lady? What can this old woman possibly do to me? If she tries anything stupid, all I have to do is just give her one heavy blow, case closed.
"Why do you want to be a cook, Nadia?" she asked.
Jesus! How did she know my name? Immediately, my mind flashed on all those Nigerian movies I had watched in the past which was based on familiar demonic spirits. And the horrific part is, they were all old women.
I stopped and took a step backwards.
"Don't be scared, I knew your name today. You became popular on the day you attempted to cook fruit salad."
I didn't know when I burst out laughing. So my fame was building up?
"So answer me, why do you want to be a cook?"
I boldly followed her, although I still resolved in my mind to carry out my plan if she tried something fishy.
"To have revenge on my ex husband!"
I muttered out when we entered her supposed room. It was the most beautiful place in the whole academy, well stocked with kitchen equipment of different types. I gasped in shock.
"Wrong answer! If that's your motive, you'll never learn. And you'll fail."
I nodded my head, my eyes still surveying my present environment.
She took off her coat and ordered me to seat.
"Allow me to teach you, Nadia. Be my private student."
Without thinking twice, or even once, I jumped at the idea.
"Yes madam. Yes!"
Continued on next page...
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