NADIA: Going into the world of a cook was a new dawn, but little did I know that it entails so many buried secrets.
There I stood, totally blank on what to do next. Phones were not allowed in the hall. It all seemed like my dreams were shattered.
I looked at Joyce and beckoned.
I had been lucrative in dangling with the ingredients like I was doing something paramount. Joyce changed seats, to a place where she was close and visible enough.
I picked each ingredient and named them with my fingers: one finger represented oil, and two fingers represented stock fish, smoke fish and meat. She understood my naming.
And so we began. She raised two fingers; I understood I was supposed to boil the meat into stock. When I was done, she raised one finger. Quickly, I added oil and she signaled me to pound. I mashed the Ewedu till she signaled with her finger.
I added my mashed Ewedu, the stock and the stock fish, crayfish, smoke fish and snails into the soup, and then covered it. She smiled at me. Whoa! I got it.
Next, we are asked to choose between pounded yam and Amala. I knew I sucked at Amala; I wouldn’t dare.
Let's cut to the chase.
My group and I got a double promotion to grade 3. Unfortunately for some of our colleagues, they had to repeat the grade; some new students got promoted instead, while some were put on trail.
DANIEL: The management of the academy gave us three lesson-free days to celebrate our new found victory. It was enough time to meet up with Nadia. I had planned my speech on how to reveal everything to her. I had never met my uncle's wife, just his kids; I didn’t know that I had been kissing and smooching her for all these while. I wondered how the story might have looked like if we had sex together. I’m pretty much sure my uncle is ready to offer his wife as a sacrifice just to ascend the throne. Nadia needs to know about this.
My mum would never see reasons with me. Of course, it's her brother, her only brother. She would never believe me. He had never given her a reason to doubt him.
Whatever both of them were up to still remained a difficult mystery to unfold; but I wasn't going to sit and wait till they strike. I have to step up my game. If it means leaving the academy, then so be it.
NADIA: It's been a while since I last saw Serena. I kind of missed her. This time, Joyce accompanied me to see her.
Upon getting there, Serena offered to tell me about the whole story; I was glad she did.
"My husband (Bode) and I founded Serena Foodies. We started as a normal restaurant, to an eatery. And then we set up classes and branches. We had lots of challenges, but what kept us together was the love we felt for each other. I made sure we sacrificed a lot to set up this academy.
Our love went sour the moment his ex-girlfriend from college stepped in. My husband wasn't bending to her debauchery so she framed me, drugged and arraigned me with a well paid hooker. She brought my husband to see me lying naked on a hotel bed."
Serena paused to let out a tear. Before my attempt to console her, Joyce had already dried her tears. So I quickly withdrew.
"A week later, I discovered I was pregnant for my husband; but as expected, he rejected the baby, and then married Susan. He relinquished my rights to the company, but he could not push me out because I had large shares.
Susan bore a girl child too, and took charge. He made sure the world knew that Joyce wasn’t his daughter. He forbade her from holding any position like Brenda, until I was able to prove to him with a DNA test that Joyce is indeed his daughter. However, Susan had changed the rules; there’s now a board to support her cause.
The only way I can be reinstated is if I can prove my leadership by training a cook who will win the final competition."
I was about to ask why Joyce wasn’t picked as a participant when she interjected;
"Anyone except Joyce!"
The initial words I had planned slumped back.
"But why me? I mean there are many others who could have been much better; I’m a disaster!"
"My goals is to train a disaster."
Oh! I got it now.
"That's why Brenda wants you out of the house by all means. She’s to represent Susan; you’re to represent me. Nadia, you always have to watch your back, by all means possible. And keep yourself two steps ahead.”
DANIEL: Finally, I saw her with her crew, in the eatery. I took a bold step.
"Nadia, please we need to talk."
Sharon was the first to blurt out, "Meaning? Were we not talking before you got here?"
Jessy joined in;
"Abi oh... Daniel the talker!"
I had to bear the insults; I noticed Nadia wasn't comfortable with what her friends had said. I understood now, she knew who I was.
"Easy girls, it won't take long," she said.
“Remember the number one rule Nadia,” Sharon said; I couldn't help but wonder what that rule could be.
"Nadia, I’m sorry for the other day. I sincerely apologize."
I had to settle the potholes on ground first.
She couldn't keep direct eye contact with me. It took her a while before she answered;
"It wasn't your fault, I understand."
NADIA: Daniel taking me way out to the central garden raised a lot of suspicions. Perhaps, he wants to ask me out. God, what is wrong with me? Since when did I begin to think of that? Oh wait, do I really want him too?
I kept battling with myself until he apologized; “What I gentleman!” I remarked.
But then, he had to ruin the moment;
"I’m sorry to tell you this, but my uncle has been married with kids for more than 15 years now."
My whole existence vanished for a minute or two. I married and slept with a married man? Did Wilson really fool me to the core?
"Stop this Joke, Daniel!"
He held me back when I attempted to run and scare away from the bitter truth.
"Nadia, I’m telling you this because the enemy we both have is a familiar one: Brenda is his wife."
My head exploded.
"That explains why she acts strangely towards you, right from the very beginning. I think she knows her husband cheated on her, with you."
I can't really explain what I felt. There are not enough words to explain what I felt. I leave this question with you: how would you feel if you were in my shoes?
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