Just A Taste
DANIEL: Listen, my situation in this Academy was getting complicated now. What was really happening? First, how do I get out of these girls room without someone spotting me. It was almost 4am. And I could hear the girls chatter down the hall. Second, this Joyce is claiming Brenda is some kind of terminator. Third, am yet to confirm my real father’s death. Fourth, my uncle plans to my life is still a question mark. So tell me. Is this normal? Like put yourself in my shoes. I couldn’t think well. Nadia was busy conducting an interview that didn’t really solve any of my problems. The alarm was how to do I get to my Hall.
NADIA: “Trust no one. Not even your supervisor”
The mysterious old woman’s words reverberated in my head again.
“What happened Joyce?”
“She confronted me. Because we were chosen to represent the inter group competition.”
It didn’t make sense to me
“I don’t understand, but she picked us herself”
Daniel quickly butt in.
“Please ladies, don’t you think I need help here? Come on, you girls can talk about your whole fantasy later”
I ignored him.
“Unless she didn’t pick us on her own accord. Unless someone ordered her too”
Joyce suggested and picked herself up to pace.
“Then why would she attack you. Why not the person who ordered her. Joyce, we can’t cook remember? We are the ones learning”
Daniel had his eyes shut and raised to heaven
“Ahhhhh..women! I am here. Remember?”
He had to remind us I guess. I understood now that he was in big trouble.
“Take these. Wear them”
I handed him my clothes.
“Oh you must be kidding”
He laughed it off. But I knew he understood that there was no other option.
I made an attempt to withdrew my clothes
“Ok ok ok..lemme have them!”
We couldn’t help but giggle as we watched him fit into my bra.
And then as he added clothes to his ass and chest to really look the lady he feigned.
I had to take pictures for further blackmail. Just in case he decides to misbehave.
And then he was safely out.
“Change up, let’s go”
I drew Joyce out despite her reluctancy to go.
I wanted to get to the root of all these. Little did I know this was way bigger than my own imaginations.
“We have both banga stew and banga soup. Both are prepared the same way. But different ingredients.”
Brenda pursed when she noticed myself and Joyce.
She averted her eyes and went on with her normal lessons. I tried my possible best to try and interrogate her with my eyes. But still, she didn’t fall for it. She was free, no sign of fear or guilt. What was this all about?
Or she didn’t attack Joyce?
Why would Joyce lie about that? It didn’t make sense. She had to be the one
“Nadia, please. Enlighten us on how to prepare Banga stew.”
I was startled.
The eyes on me made me realize I was asking a very, very stupid question.
Prepare what? I didn’t even notice the Banga stew was ready.
I didn’t want to fool myself again so I just had to stick with the truth.
“I don’t know how to.”
They all burst out laughing.
“And you are to represent us in the inter group competition. What a shame. I can tell you would disgrace us”
Her words sank into my head. But before I picked offense. I brainstormed to understand that she was trying to paint me an infidel before the whole school. That’s why she picked me to lead the team. So I would never be nominated for the real competition. She wants me to fail even before I start.
And guess what? The competition was tomorrow.
I brought my gang together and filled them in with the latest.
“We’ve got to work together and figure this out”
Jessy had to ask. Good question.
“None of can cook any of those dishes. There is no point deceiving ourselves”
Good point. But I was out to prove them wrong.
“I will, by tomorrow. Just follow my lead tomorrow”
I could see the doubt in their eyes. But from the fact that the leader had spoken, they just swallowed hard and nodded to my suggestion. I could tell they were already planning the best way to conserve the disgrace tomorrow.
That night, I went straight to mysterious old woman and explained my plight.
“It’s simple. What’s your best song?”
“Rara by tekno”.
I hurriedly replied. I was in a haste so her question didn’t really make sense at that moment.
” Good play it”
She handed me an earphone.
I obeyed. I loved the song, so it didn’t take me minutes to start swaying my waist to its rhythm.
“Pick that pot. Hum the ingredients with the song you are listening too”
I was dancing and cooking as she instructed. Slowly I began to understand, i was enjoying myself.
“Roll out your dough”
She threw a dough at me. I was quick to catch. So she filled her hands with flour and bathe me with it.
“I laughed and retaliated😁. As we waited for the Hawawshi to bake.
Next the Banga stew.
” think of your best food”
I was quick to suggest
“Toasted bread and egg. Oh I can kill for those😏”
“Sssshhh.. Right now, your best food is Banga stew. And you wouldnt want to ruin your best food. Create that picture in your mind. See this Banga soup as you bread and egg”
I did. And went to work. Whistling and humming to the bass the earphone was emanating. Tapping my hands and squeezing the juice off the nuts at the same time.
In an hour. My dish was ready.
My eyes went wide when the taste sent my tongue drenched in salivation.
“Did I cook this?”
“A cook, prepare her meals with her mind. Not her hands”
I hugged her and lifted her up with the last strength I had.
“What are the ingredients?”
Before I answered. She suggested
“Hum your song”
As I did the ingredients re- appeared fresh to my brain.
“So are you ready. Nadia Serena”
Without hesitation I answered with that taunting confidence.
“I am so ready!”
NADIA continues: I never imagined I would have interest in the kitchen. You know I had always seen cooking as a burden. Like it sucks! Women are trying. You men need to appreciate them, it’s not easy to cook at all. That’s for the men. Ladies out there, do you know you can enjoy cooking? Like enjoy doing it. That you just sit and different ideas begin to flood your mind. And you begin to think of new ways to prepare a dish?
You know that mysterious old woman who had still refused to tell me her name taught me something else.
“The difference between a cook and a house wife, is their mind. An house wife cooks her food the same way everyday. A cook, thinks of new ways to prepare that same food. An extra ordinary cook, invents his own dish”
She gave me a sample. She prepared a bowl of fruit salad.
Hahahahahaha come on now, even if I don’t remember any other dish. I can never forget the fruit salad I tried to boil with water.
“It’s fruit salad nah”
She laughed. And then, she added a tin of peak milk to it.
I couldn’t believe my eyes. Tin peak milk inside a fruit salad?.
And viola! It tasted so good.
“Thats how you become a cook. Think of something crazy. And don’t just think. Try it out”
Ok, ok. Let’s digress from all these sweet private lessons. Back to the mysterious battle at hand.
The competition has arrived. And if you don’t know the meaning of fear, then I am here to explain.
Fear is when you begin to sweat inside your anus the moment you see the size of the competition you imagined would just be a small group competition.
To my greatest surprise. The president of the Academy was seated.
Oh my God. My legs were shaking.
DANIEL: Nadia would not stop threatening my life with the photos she took. Akin wouldn’t stop laughing either. At some point I actually laughed too. Like it was indeed funny. I had to even cat-walk o. So it wud look very convincing.
But then, what Joyce said was still a thought I couldn’t shake off.
I decided to investigate a little. But first, I need to watch Nadia disgrace our Ass. Or so I thought. Until she wowed us all.
The competition started exactly by 3pm when the president was seated.
Nadia and her crew were to prepare the Egyptian Hawawshi. God, although I didn’t really like her guts. I still prayed a little that she shouldn’t set the Hall on fire.
But then, I saw a different Nadia. One I was now picking genuine interest in.
NADIA: Ok put yourself together. You can do this. Brenda was seated in one of the seats provided for supervisors. Our seniors were seated too, according to their grades.
The uniform on grade 6 was spectacular. I just wondered though, the way they carried their eyes to heaven with pride… Twas like they can cook for Africa.😒
“Participants pick your ticket and prepare the dish you see on it. You have 30minutes. Make your group proud. Good luck”
The announcement came and we went to work.
“Jenny, the chopping board.”
I turned to Sharon
“Chop the carrots, green pepper. Just chop all the vegetables”
“Joyce cook the meat. I’ll mix the dough”
We were all secluded from the crowd. Each in a kitchen, with cameras filming to show the Audience live on a large teleprompter, just what we were preparing.
I began to hum my song. Tapping my finger on the table with a spoon. Laughing too.
“Is not like you are going crazy right?”
Sharon fired. Forgetting there was a sensitive mic in the room transmitting our conversations. The laughter we heard from the crowd gave us the hint.
“Sharon. They can hear us. Abeg sew up your mouth”
“You can’t blame me nah. It’s not like we are allowed to dance of something”
Sharon continued. Laughter again.
“Sharon oh. Abeg hide our identity biko”
Jenny suggested. It was not helping matters. More laughter.
I thought of something. I removed the song I was listening too on my earphone. So they could all hear it.
Joyce was the first to start responding as she mixed the meat with the vegetables, she realised and quickly fell back to form.
“Wait o. Are we allowed to dance?”
Sharon was dancing already, while putting on the oven.
“My dear dance small eee..na only one life we get”
I said and listened as the crowd’s laughter roared and lingered for a long time.
“Enjoy what you do girls. Enjoy cooking. Enjoy this”
And by the time we were done. Even the judges were more eager to taste our dish. We served with warm coffee. I noticed they’ve been laughing with the Audience.
And we got an A!
Ahn ahn, what were you expecting before nah?.
Later that evening, Daniel stole out to meet me up.
“Remember I still have those photos…”
I said thinking he wanted to try something trickery.
But then, he decide the shock my liver.
“Joyce is not who she says she is. She is the president’s Daughter
NADIA continues: Listen people, you know that moment when you feel you’ve got something covered and then it shoots up from another different angle entirely.
At first I thought Daniel was speaking in tongues. But he was damn serious.😨
“How did you know.? Myself and Joyce arrived this Academy in the same Public bus. It’s impossible”
He frowned a little. It seemed like he wasn’t sure himself.
“Brenda told me”
I laughed, what on earth would make Brenda of all people, a supervisor stoop low to not just talk, but expose secrets to Daniel
“Brenda? Like you mean our supervisor?”
He nodded his head. I gave him that look that explained I didn’t believe a word he said.
“Why would Brenda tell you that?”
“Cos I told her a very important detail about myself”
Ok I was done. Enough of this
“Daniel, I’ve got to go”
“Nadia, be careful”
He warned and I could feel his eyes on me till I was out of sight.
Although I had planned to ignore his words. But it kept ringing in my head like an alarm clock.😬
DANIEL: I wasn’t sure Nadia would believe me. But at least I told her already. And when I mentioned I had told Brenda an important detail about myself. I meant it because, now Brenda knows I am the heir to Kayode’s kitchen so trust me. That word alone is worth more than any competition they might be fighting for here.
Joyce, remains a question mark. Brenda is not left out either.
NADIA: I didn’t want to suspect Joyce, but I began to read meaning to her recent questions
“Where are you going to?”
She startled me that night when I was about to sneak out to the mysterious old woman.
I quickly lay back on my bed.
“For your information. I know where you are heading too. And I know you’ve been going there for a while now”
My heart missed. I was now thinking Daniel was actually right. I wanted to ask but the words got choked. I simply turned to face the wall.
“You don’t know what you’re talking about Joyce. Go to sleep”
Next morning. It was time to learn the Nigerian dish Funkaso Joyce was up already. Now she wasn’t acting like the talkative I knew. It was like she knew Daniel told me something already. We headed to the Hall in silence. And from metres away we could hear Brenda going on with the lessons already.
Funkaso is a traditional Nigerian dish made out of millet that can either be served as a sweet breakfast or as a savory side. Though they look like pancakes, the millet flour in funkaso makes it a gluten-free, vegan, and overall healthier option. Millet flour can be purchased at a health food store or you can buy plain millet and grind it to a powder in a food processor. If you are planning to serve funkaso for breakfast, get the batter ready the night before, as it needs to rest for at least 4 hours. In the morning you can just heat the griddle and get flipping!
Makes 5 Millet Pancakes
1 cup millet flour.• ½ cup and 2 tbsp of lukewarm water (adjust as necessary).• Salt or sugar to taste*.• Margarine or oil Method:1.Sift the millet flour into a mixing bowl and slowly pout in the water, mixing constantly. The mixture should be runny but smooth, similar to pancake batter. If deciding to make the sweet version, add some sugar, preferably brown, otherwise salt the batter.
2.Cover the bowl with cling wrap and set aside for 4 hours or overnight
3.Heat your griddle or your heavy frying pan and melt your margarine. If you are making the savoury version, you may replace the margarine with oil. During this time, whisk the batter.
4.When the griddle and the margarine are hot, ladle the batter onto it, creating round pancakes. Flip when the bottom looks crispy. When both sides are ready, remove the funkaso from the griddle.
5.Serve warm with honey, Chika’s Hand Toasted Peanuts or Smoked Almonds, and yogurt. Alternately, serve it as a savoury side to a meat dish or with dips or chutneys.
DANIEL: my plans to get Nadia was trailing off. I wasn’t making headways. There was no way to meet up at night. And during the day, all those are new recruited crew follow her around like hawks😒. Ok, before the ladies reading this thinks am a total jerk, or decides to twist my neck. listen, I was just after her body but after the competition. I had generated a likeness for her. Pure one oh. I wanted to give it a try and have her close. Who knows. There is life after this academy. And wait for it readers. Life after this academy, is where the real story begins.
NADIA: That night, although I knew Joyce pretended to be fast asleep. I went out still, to the mysterious old woman.
“How are you my child?”
She smiled at me and handed over a recipe
“All the foods that you would encounter in this academy from grade 1 to 6”
My eyes went wide. I opened and took a glimpse. This was all I need. Joyce suddenly popped up in my mind
“Madam, does the name Joyce ring a bell?”
She paused for a while. Her reaction indeed explained that Joyce was a close one.
“Nadia, what’s the name of this academy?”
I wondered what the name of the academy had to do with my question.
I replied, smiling at the fact that it was my name sake.
She tied her apron and handed me mine
“My name is Serena Temilade. And Joyce, is my daughter”
NADIA continues: Have you ever experienced that moment when you don’t know the perfect exclamation to suit your expression. Should I go for ‘What?!!’, ‘Jeez!!’ Or ‘Wow!’
After keeping my eyes open for about 2minutes, without blinking; oh my poor eyes. I finally settled for
She smiled still and threw a pan at me. I almost missed but luckily I caught it.
She warned and opened the fridge to bring out a marinated chicken.
“Wait, so you mean she is not a rookie? Like she can cook? Why did she lie to me? Why is she keeping her identity a secret”
She was quiet as she sliced the chicken into parts.
“Pick up your knife and slice Nadia. In time you’ll know. Just know that Joyce, is more than a cook. I taught her everything I know. And the same I would do for you”
She had not satisfied my insatiable curiosity.
“Who are you madam Serena?”
She pursed for a while and instructed me to open my new cook guide.
“Open to page 3 and read out the ingredients.
How to prepare peppered chicken
-Boil your chicken with
Thyme, curry powder, tumeric, knorr, Benny stock and marinate in the boiled stock overnight.
– mix your tumeric, lots of grinded pepper, Benny stock, suya spice, curry powder in paste and add your grated tomatoes little water.
– mix till it’s thick and mix each of your boiled chicken in your prepared sauce.
– put in oven for 30minutes
It was all ready. But then, the look I gave her had to prompt her to at least give me an hint. And so, when I asked my last question, she considered and answered.
” You choosing to teach me was planned by you both right?”
She nodded in affirmation.
“Nadia, Joyce suggested I choose you. I chose you”
“So that day you bumped into me, it wasn’t a coincidence?”
She shook her head. My mind was suggesting lots of safety measures. I was slowly backing away. I understood what they wanted me for, even if she had not said it yet.
“You want to use me to achieve something? Like, you know all these undercover spies”
I chuckled a little to act like I was relaxed so she could spill it out.
“Yes Nadia, you have to be the best. So I can get my position back”
Ok ok.. This is getting deep.
“What position? Am I a tool or something?”
I didn’t wait for her to respond I charged out.
DANIEL: Ok I have to strategize my plans on how to win Nadia’s heart. I am not forgetting the part where my uncle waits for me to graduate from the academy. I trust my mum to keep my seat. She is a smart woman. Forget about the Father stuff, I concluded it was a lie to lure me out.
For now, let me consecrate on Nadia. After the Academy, we begin the battle.
It wouldn’t be easy though. The girl has issues. Pride issues.
“Joyce spill now!”
She was quiet.
“I know everything OK..everything”
She remained quiet, I couldn’t believe this was the Joyce that couldn’t do without talking for a sec.
“Nadia, calm down and listen.. You have to be the best”
Oh God of Israel. I have heard that before. The question remains why?!
“For what? So you both would use me? No wonder your mother has constantly instructed I trust no one”
She was still calm. I knew she was trying to keep her cool and calm me down. But I wasn’t ready for that.
The door bell rang and the interrupted us.
You can imagine Daniel standing at my door.
I didn’t even wait to hear what he had to say. I slammed the door even before he opened his mouth.
“Joyce? I am waiting!”
I charged back at Joyce.
“Nadia, being the best is for your own good! Making a name in this Academy is your gain. The person you must watch out for is the president’s new wife and her daughter Brenda!”
Just A Taste
DANIEL: Humiliation of the highest order. After risking my full life to get to her. She slammed the door at me. Well, I hunged the Rose I brought, to her door post. With a little piece of paper.
I know most people would question how I got to know about Joyce’s identity. It was Brenda. She was falling for my future wealth already. Although we kept it a secret from the house. She was all over me. And there was no information she withheld from me. Although, I knew she had an hidden agenda. Just that I had not figured it out yet. What’s my business anyway, since Nadia is proving a little difficult. I would have to get Brenda first.
NADIA: Brenda is the president’s daughter!
My mouth went wide for shock.
“You are joking right?”
She scoffed and dropped her phone on her bed before she faced me.
“How did you find out? Like how did you know she is the president’s daughter?”
The look she gave me made me wonder if the question I asked was dumb.
“Really? Are you that daft? Cos I am his daughter too. My mother is the first wife”
I had to look for where to sit first before I proceed.
“Ok what is going on? Are you all trying to drag me into your family issues?”
She opened her mouth to respond. But it seemed she remembered something, so she digressed.
“Who was that? The person you slammed the door on?”
Oh, I remembered now. It was Daniel? I was angry nah. It wasnt my fault. I hurried back to open up, but he was gone.
I swear, seriously I swear… I never meant to blush. But I did when a rose fell on my feet and a paper with the words scripted
“I just wanted to say hi, pretty”
But then, I caught myself.
“Nadia, remember the rules sha”
Joyce startled me.
“What’s that? we are talking about you. Not this”
She picked her phone and continued her chat.
“Abeg, later. If you want to stop the training. You stop. Your loss anyway”
Ok that was so true, it’s my loss. my initial purpose of being a cook was to have vengeance. Now I just enjoyed doing it.
I slept that night after ignoring Wilson’s call for over 5times. ‘Who he help?’
The next morning. I received a WhatsApp message.
“Hi pretty, hope you got my rose? Sorry for disturbing you girls ok?”
without seeking for a spiritual revelation. I knew it was Daniel.
I had questions
How did he get my number?
Should I reply him?
I ignored my first question. But attended to the second as I replied.
“Gud morning, I got ur flower. Thnks.”
DANIEL: How did I get Nadia’s Number? You know nah. ‘Brenda’
As the supervisor, she had all our Academy required information
Although I had to construct lies I knew she didn’t buy. But she gave it to me without objecting. She didn’t even ask why.
‘Wetin concern me?’
I collected it and went to work.
NADIA: Brenda taught pepper chicken again. Like seriously? I know the stuff already.
“Nadia, so you didn’t disgrace us last week. Nice one. Pay attention because after I teach the theory of this dish, you would prepare it.. I expect you to cook this confidently.. Except you cheated in your test”
Brenda said as she approached me. Don’t mind me, I had been discussing with my crew. The lesson was stale to me.
And you can imagine the challenge she threw at me. I was going to prove her wrong.
I received a text message just before I replied.
“Don’t prepare that dish Nadia”
It was Joyce.
I looked at her direction, her head was bowed. It seemed she didn’t want Brenda to know she was communicating with me.
“Nadia? Oh so your glory is short lived. I understand”
Ok this was too much embarrassment.
“I’ll prepare it”
I could see the shock on everyone. I looked to Joyce. Her head was still bowed.
“Hmm..ok.. Take the stage.”
Trust me, withing few minutes. The marinated chicken was neatly and skillfully prepared.
The applauds made my head flutter. The winks Daniel threw was obvious.
“Never underestimate me. Brenda”
I whispered to her ear when I was close.
I could feel the burn in her skin. Yes! Let her burn.
After the lesson, Joyce was gone. I knew she was angry.
Just metres to my room, Brenda held me back. It was like she appeared from nowhere.
She spoke from her clenched teeth, her eyes was unexplainably red.
“So it’s confirmed. Serena has been teaching you. She alone can prepare a dish like that. You fool! You wanna be a part of a war you can’t win. Nadia, mark my words. You will be crushed!”
Just A Taste
NADIA: Maybe I didn’t know the extent of the damage. But seriously, how did Brenda find out it was Serena teaching me.
“Brenda, are you OK? What’s wrong with you? And who is Serena?”
I feigned the best character to suit my pretense.
She gave me that look. Took her steps backwards, and smiled like she had achieved something.
Of course she didn’t buy my scene.
“Don’t say I didn’t warn you..”
I watched till she was out of sight before I let out a sigh of relief.
I had quickened my steps to my room. It was break time. And I was free to stroll around. But I had to resolve to my shell. When I mean my shell, I mean my room.
DANIEL: Brenda was foaming. I could tell. Yet she didn’t fall for my inquisitive charm to get the info out of her.
Was all she kept telling me.
I could tell that all eyes were on us in the relaxation spot. ‘Wetin concern me’
I just had one problem now. I didn’t know how to get this Brenda to my bed. That my roommate, Akin. His eyes would be on us like torchlight. And there is no way she as a supervisor and a lady can venture into the guys hostel.
“I just wonder if there is a place we could just be alone?”
She forced a smile
“There is a place actually”
My ears stood at attention. But then, just as she opened her mouth, a text obstructed her. And killed my initial hopes. Who texted her at that moment eh? I had to spy to catch a glimpse of the text.
I couldn’t get the full text but I was able to catch “If Nadia knows. Bring her to me”
She quickly cautioned herself and turned to see if I was spying. Trust me nah. As a sharp guy. My eyes were on my own phone already.
My head began to race with thoughts, what was going on?
God. What had Nadia gotten herself into?
I was just by the door when I remembered Joyce. I froze and attempted to tiptoe away but the girl had to open up.
She ordered. And some how I just obeyed and bowed like a scared kid who committed a grievous offense.
“Joyce if I had..”
She didn’t even let me land.
“You know I picked you out of everyone. There are a million who would jump at this offer. But I chose you. Cos I wanted mum to brush you up, and save you from a disgrace”
I attempted to butt in again but she hushed me
“Do you have any idea? I gave a simple instruction, but you chose your ego over my mum’s identity”
Ok she was taking it too far. I didn’t damage anything nah. I just prepared the dish. How does that connect to Serena.
“Joyce, I just prepared the dish, what’s bad in that? She was going to disgrace me?”
Trust me, I left out the part where Brenda had confronted me.
With the present situation, that would spring forth fire.
“Because she wanted you too! How would you understand? When you are concerned about your pride?! I warned you not too. But you wouldn’t listen.. You wanna blow up everything right?! You are so dumb!”
I paused and tried to justify myself again
“Joyce, calm down”
I advised, although I knew I was in need of my own advice. My adrenaline was heating up already.
“Am sure she has spilled this to him now”
She was soliloquizing aloud.
“All because of your daft attitude!”
She barked at me again
Ok, I did something wrong but the insults was becoming unbearable.
“What is it?! If you had texted me in details I wouldn’t prepare it! If you were in my shoes you would do the same! Don’t play righteous here ok. And please don’t ever call me dumb. None of these gives you the right to insult me!”
I barked back. What is it self? Did I commit murder.
She was quiet. Strangely quiet. Staring at me. I was staring back.
“Nadia, your private lesson ends. From this minute. You are on your own!”
She dropped the bombshell and it exploded right in my brain.
DANIEL: As soon as Brenda was out of sight. I quickly called Nadia
“Nadia, please meet me up, its important”
I was smart but a part of me still threatened that Brenda noticed all I did.
If she really did, I would have to watch my steps too.
It took Nadia a while before she finally made my heart flutter when she replied
My heart beamed with Joy. I have to freshen up for our encounter.
NADIA: At first I wanted to react to the words that made my heart rent in two. But my brain help calculate the loss I would encounter.
Daniel had too call, thank goodness. Because at that time, it helped relieve the tension seated in our midst.
I replied his request. Not that I was actually planning to meet up with him.
“Joyce, am sorry”
She sat on her bed and sighed. It seemed that was the words she wanted in the first place.
My mind began to push me. Now that she had accepted my apology, tell her about Brenda. It’s now or never!
“Brenda confronted me though”
Her red eyes rekindled
The announcement rang to call off the break time.
“What did she say?”
She asked as she handed me my clothes. I stared at the jean again. All these jeans trousers, the problem is not putting them on, but it’s when I want to pull them off. It takes the strength of God.
I wore it anyway, Joyce is here to help me out.
“Nothing much, she was pushing me to admit that it’s Madam Serena teaching me”
We were out of the room already.
“And what did you tell her?”
She questioned, looking straight Into my eyes, like she was planning to have me on the hook if I dare try to lie.
“I denied it, don’t worry”
She sighed in relief.
“Nadia, you are late”
Brenda shot at me..
Ahn ahn, it was both me and Joyce nah. She ignored Joyce and faced me. The eyes Joyce shot at her made me understand that they both avoided each other’s wrath. I still wondered how they where able to pretend like they weren’t siblings.
Brenda introduced the lesson of the day
Chinese chicken salad
4 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce, divided
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil,
divided 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1/2 head napa cabbage, thinly shredded (about 6 cups)
1/4 head red cabbage, shredded (about 2 cups)
1 large carrot, shredded (about 2 cups)
3 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced, greens included
(about 1/2 cup)1 (8-ounce) can sliced water chestnuts1 (11-ounce) can Mandarin oranges in water, drained
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons chili-garlic sauce orchili sauce
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine 1 tablespoon soy sauce and 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil and brush onto chicken breasts. Arrange in a baking dish and bake until juices run clear, about 13 to15 minutes. Remove from oven, cool completely, and cut into 1/4-inch slices. In a large bowl, combine Napa cabbage,red cabbage, carrot, scallions, water chestnuts, Mandarin orange and sliced chicken. In a separate bowl, whisk together 3 tablespoons soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger, oil, 1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil, brown sugar and chili sauce. Pour dressing over salad and toss to combine. Divide among bowls and top each serving with 2 teaspoons toasted almonds.
Daniel was quick to catch up with me. He held my hands when I wasn’t paying attention to him.
“Listen Nadia, I care about you, that’s why i am here running after you OK? The least you can do is listen to what I have to say”
His words pricked my heart. I felt bad.
He smiled. Cute smile.
“It’s ok. Nadia you have to be careful..”
I made him pause when I signaled Joyce to go on without me”
“Brenda is planning something with someone big.. I don’t know what you girls are struggling for but please watch your back. I will be on the look out for you”
Fear came on me but I acted like it was nothing.
“Ok thanks, see you…”
Before I dropped the words he pecked me.
“I just felt you would need that. Catch you later”
I didn’t know if getting angry was what would suit the flutter I felt in my heart.
I was still thinking about it when my sight was taking from me. Before I screamed my mouth was shut as I passed out.
I woke up in a large office, laid on a sofa.
The man who sat to face me made my heart beat like the talking drum. My mouth shivered to my bone when I questioned.
I had shut my eyes and imagine I was still asleep. Maybe I was in dream world.
“Open your eyes Nadia. It’s me”
He requested as he made an attempt to touch my hands.
I opened my eyes again. God it was Wilson!
I realised now that this was indeed a reality.
“Bring your voice down Nadia”
He tried to calm me down but I wasn’t ready to listen
“Wilson? How did you..?
Wait how did I get here? You kidnapped me?”
He attempted to touch me but the flames burning in my whole system wouldn’t let him.
“Don’t you dare!”
I was restraining myself from hitting him so hard. I couldn’t believe myself.. This is the same guy I swore I would die for. Now I felt like slitting his throat.
“Nadia will you calm down for a minute and listen.?”
I was making things difficult for him. So I tried to temporarily pretend to be calm so he can explain how the hell I got there.
DANIEL: My mum had called me up. She didn’t reveal her reasons but it sounded urgent. I received the text to my phone the moment I got back to my room. You won’t believe I had to write a letter of permission. The authorities were delaying my letter. Mum called immediately when I relayed my plight to her, and the head manager had to escort me to the gate, still pleading for mercy. I wondered what my mum told him.
I got to lekki at about 5pm in the evening.
“Good evening sir, good evening sir”
Oh trust me, I have missed all these glory. I smiled as I waved at everyone who bowed to greet their heir to the throne.
I got to her spacious office. She was seated as usual, going thru those massive files. I always wondered what she finds so special in them.
She beamed with smiles as she let down her Googles to take a better look.
“You’ve grown big my boy”
She stood up to hug me. I was way taller so I had to bend to reach her.
She inhaled deep and hugged me tight. It was obvious she had missed me. I missed her too though.
After much gist she digressed to the main reason she called.
“I want you to cook something for me. I want to be certain you are not wasting my money there. If you can’t cook anything. I’ll pull you out immediately”
At first, the word pull you out sounded nice. Its what I have desire from the start.
But then, just as my smiles brimmed to the fullest, I remembered Nadia.
I began to think of the damage now.
“I had to make arrangements with Brenda to bring you here. I have been searching for you”
This was getting deep. How the he get to know Brenda?
“You know Brenda? When? How?”
He didn’t answer my questions.
“That’s not the point, the point is, you are biting more than you can chew. I got the news that you are becoming a great cook. I must confess I underestimated you. But Nadia, getting involved with Serena is the most foolish step you took. She is evil and can’t be trusted”
I watched his mouth as they confessed what I least expected.
“Who are you?”
I had to question. Is this Wilson? How did he know all of that? Has he been spying on me?
“Nadia are you listening to me at all? That’s not an issue anyway. You are going back home”
Ok, I had been so calm to get all his intentions revealed. But his last words brought the tamed fire back.
“I’m what? Are you for real? Like are you OK? I think you are running mad. Like seriously mad! You kidnapped me, which I am supposed to get you arrested for. And now you are ranting here, threatening to send me home? As what? My new God? Who do you think you are?”
He covered the distance between us and grabbed my hand
I pushed him with the last strength I had.
“Ex husband! You bastard”
I said and hurried to the door.
Two hefty men stood outside. Trust me, I hit one of them in between his legs. You know what that means. And scathed away trying to find my way. The place was a city of its own.
It was a food plaza, bigger than anything I have ever seen in my life.
I could hear footsteps and deep baritones calling out my name. They were after me. I ran to a segment with the inscription.
Wait, could it be that I am in Kayode’s kitchen? The biggest food plaza in Africa?. How come? And what is Wilson doing here? With an office of his own.?
I ran into the kitchen. It was like a factory with hundreds of cook who hardly paid attention to me. They were all busy with one food or the other. It was well air conditioned and I was beginning to feel at home when I remembered I was being chased.
I ran forward into a room I found open. It was another kitchen. Smaller than the other one. But all the equipment and facilities was intact. It was clear that no one used the kitchen. It would be a perfect place to hide.
Gladly it was when I heard the security pass by.
I was about to hurry out when the door opened. Someone came in. I was careful when I took a peek to see.
You wouldn’t believe it! It was Daniel!
NADIA: would I call this guy my saviour or my terminator. What is he doing here? Of all the places he could be, he chose here, at this time.
I began to have conflicted thoughts. Do I run to him for help? Or just stay hidden?
“God I’m finished. What do I cook?”
oops, it actually looked like he was in trouble too. I was trying to muster courage to announce my presence when the sole owner of kayode’s kitchen walked in.
My heart throbbed against my chest. I was seeing Mrs olutayo Titilayo in flesh and blood!!
My eyes went wide. What has Daniel gotten himself into. Or wait, how did Daniel become this close to this woman.?
“My boy, what will you prepare for me”
Jeez, they are really close. For her to even call him ‘my boy’. Thank God the kitchen was spacious. They would hardly notice me.
“Mum, you go and allow me prepare it. If you seat like this watching me. I might get confused you know”
His reply gained weight in my ears. Mum what? Daniel is the only son of Kayode’s kitchen.. The only son. Oh I should have know. His name is Daniel olutayo. But still, there are lots of people with that name. Jeez, I began to regret my hard attitude towards him. I didn’t even know if I could face him again.
“Ok, ok. Whatever you say. But I’ll be back in 30minutes. I have a meeting to attend so hasten up.”
She finally left..
I could see he needed help. Well, as a compensation and equally a way to help myself, I came out of my hiding place and questioned
“You need help? I can help you out”
He was startled to the point he threw the frying pan he held.
DANIEL: My whole dream world was about to crumble. Me? Cook?. I had never paid attention to any of what Brenda taught. My Job was to throw winks at both Brenda and Nadia. That’s it. I never imagined I would face this nightmare. Apart from the fact that I didn’t want to leave Nadia just yet, if I failed in this. My competency to shoulder the throne would be questioned.
And so, in my deepest doom, permit me to use these same words. Should I say a saviour or a terminator?
If my mother sees her. Am done for. Like finished. But hey! She can cook!
“What the?! Nadia?”
She smiled with her hands crossed at her back. There was no time to ask too much questions.
“We would talk about this later. Get over here quickly”
She hurried and got the pans ready.
“Is there any vegetable I can…”
I didn’t let her drop the word, I opened a cupboard stocked with all kinds of vegetables.
“What are you preparing?”
She looked back at me
“Honestly, I don’t know. Just trust me”
The way my eyes went wide explained that I wasn’t ready to put this on the line.
“Nadia, can you please cook something you at least know the name?”
NADIA: his question almost made me laugh, but I had to swallow it up. This was a serious issue, laughing is not really the best here.
“Daniel, just trust me”
For a moment there, calling him Daniel felt awkward. Especially now that I know his status.
I chopped carrots, cabbage, green pea, green pepper, sweet corn, with egg.
Added one cube of maggi and a pinch of salt.
“There are toasted chicken in the fridge”
Ah, good news. I picked 5laps, place them in the oven for 3minutes to defrost and warm up.
I picked 3laps and shredded them Into the vegetables. Added oil to the palm and steamed up together.
While streaming I added thyme and a pinch of Benny stock.
The aroma was making him salivate. I could see that.
It was ready.
I had seen loaves of bread in the large fridge. I hurried and took a loaf. Heated it up in the oven.
I slit it open and shared the sauce I made Into two parts. I poured the first part into the bread.
There was no time to use a toaster. I poured oil into the frying pan and put the bread in it, using my big spoon to compress it.
When it was ready, I got juice from the fridge. Served the chicken salad sauce in a plate, served the toasted bread by the side.
Like he had been waiting for the word. He hurried and tasted the chicken salad.
“God, i’ll Marry you”
I didn’t know when the words escaped my mouth. I can’t let this kind of woman pass me by. Never.
I could hear my mom’s footsteps. Thank God she was on heels.
The moment my mum entered the kitchen, she brimmed with smiles as she sniffed.
“Wow, am salivating Daniel. The Aroma is something else. What’s the name of the dish you prepared?”
I began to stammer, Nadia didn’t even have a name for it.
“I just made it mum? It just came to me”
“You mean you made your own dish? It takes a great cook to create his own dish”
She hugged me tight again, before she sat to eat. The woman self, she cleaned the plate without giving me access to even sip the juice.
“Mum come on”
I lamented. This is punishment. She was taking the last bit of bread.
However, despite all my strategic plea, she wiped the plate clean.
She sighed in satisfaction and attempted to stand but staggered a little.
“Daniel, I think I will need to sleep over this food, tell the cashier to refill your debit cards to a million each”
“NADIA: You can imagine this Daniel taking my glory. No wahala sha
The way she offered the 1million like Tom – Tom sweet, was something else. And not just one, she was using the word ‘each’
As soon as she stepped out I stood up.
” how do I get out of here?”
“Please give me your phone”
I didn’t let him reply
I needed to call Joyce. I am sure Wilson had taken my phone.
“Damn you Wilson”
He had been thanking me, and asking how I got there. But as soon as he heard Wilson he asked.
“Wait which Wilson? He brought you here?”
I was screwing thru his phone to check for Joyce’s contact. He had assured me he had the contact. How he got it still remained a mystery.
“It felt embarrassing talking about Wilson. He his part of my past.
” Its nothing “
“No no, describe this Wilson. He his tall? Broad? Carries skin cut”
The more I nodded, the more his tone increased. Until I was forced to ask.
“Why this questions?!”
“Because, Wilson is my uncle”
His words reverberated in my ears. You know that moment when you don’t even know what to think for the first 2minutes? Ever happened?
My head was not spinning any signal. What was he saying?
“And when I mean Uncle, I mean evil uncle. That’s after my life and my right to this company”
Ladies, please reason with me here, put yourself in my shoes. How would you sound when someone tells you the man who you dated for four years, and even got married too. A man that showered love on you, that appeared so simple and true. The same man is what someone is crucifying and painting him bad.
“Daniel, you dont know what you are talking about. Wilson is not like that”
I avoided his eyes so he wouldnt notice I had a thing for Wilson.
“He is what? Nadia I am telling you he is evil and you are… Wait who is he to you? He brought you here?”
God knows I was trying to keep calm. What is his problem self.
I replied with a dry tone. Gesticulating at the time.
“Joyce is not picking up. How do I get back to the Academy?”
I switched topic.
“You’ve not told me how…”
He didn’t drop the word those guys that were after me reappeared.
“Sir, The manager wants her”
I quickly withdrew to his back and held his waist like one scared kid.
At first he looked back at me, Into my eyes to understand my language. He soothed my hands on his waist and turned to the security.
“She is with me”
He didn’t talk much, the look he shot at them made them apologize till they were out of sight.
“Nadia spill.. What does my uncle want with you?”
His appearance changed. I gently removed my hands from his waist and tried to pace but remembered I wasn’t familiar with the environment.
“Nadia, you’ve been seeing my uncle?”
I was backing him, so he didn’t see when I shut my eyes and breathe down to calm my nerves.
“Wait, you’ve been seeing him? Seriously? You are like that? What did he offer you.. Huh? Money?”
I turned and opened my mouth but then I closed it. My dear ladies, I know you understand what I was going thru. Where do I start from? How do I explain that I was married and divorced after a week because I couldn’t cook?. How do I explain that I didn’t know the man I even had sex with? The man I dated for 4years.
“Wilson, you won’t understand, let’s just get out of here”
Tears was welling up in my eyes already. I didn’t want him to notice. So I attempted to walk pass him. But he wouldn’t listen.
He caught my arm and held me back.
My head was bowed. My hair covered the tears streaming down my face.
DANIEL: Nadia was testing my patience, oh she was testing me. Maybe she has been planning with my uncle to kill me. So she has been seeing my uncle? I could tell with just a look that she had something for him.. Yet, she chose to swallow it up, now that I caught her in the act.
She attempted to walk past me but I was quick to hold her back.
“You wanna hear Daniel?”
She finally turned. A dot of the tears that brimmed her eyes splashed on my cheeks. My heart melted.
“You wanna hear huh? Good. Wilson kidnapped me. And that’s not all, we dated for 4years.. I got married to him and it ended within a week, because I could not cook.. There, you have it now”
My initial wrath melted. The guilt that overwhelmed me was enormous. I could not look at her.
How do I even tell her that my uncle has been married with kids for fifteen years. And that his children are all in Germany?
“It’s embarrassing right? To discover that you dont even know the man you gave everything too. And that up till now he still has the power to hurt you. Now you can’t even look at me.”
She bent her head in tears.
No that’s not it oh.. I was just feeling guilty.
“Nadia no I just..”
She didn’t let me land.
“Daniel, please let’s just get out of here, please”
NADIA: I just needed to be alone now. I felt so ashamed of myself. I got divorced because I couldn’t cook. The man I thought I knew, deceived me the whole time. You wouldn’t believe that I financed our wedding. You are surprised right? Yes because he claimed he was Jobless. Now i got to know that he is the manager of kayode’s kitchen..And I was helplessly in love. The flat we settled down I paid for it.
I clothed the bastard and boasted to my friends that he bought all my jewelries
How embarrassing. Now Daniel was even making matters worst.
It was becoming so uncomfortable when Joyce called to even add more tension.
“Nadia where are you? Hurry to the Academy! Brenda signed you up for an in-house competition. She has informed the board that you are reluctant to participate. Nadia if you don’t get down here to participate, it would be confirmed that you disobeyed your supervisor.. And Nadia, you would be expelled!”