SAPPHIRE (CHAPTER 7)

Mama found a job in the kitchen of the Hotel splendour, famed for its magnificent view of the mountains. A dining platform had been built around the hotel, and guests made it there each morning, enjoying a sumptuous breakfast and the sunrise.

After less than a month, Chef Frills told Sapphire to report to the supervisor for reassignment. The supervisor told her she would start carrying trays of meals and dirty dishes to get them cleaned up. Her pay would also be lowered. And she would receive no tip from guests.

“What did I do wrong, supervisor?”

“I don’t know, but Chef Frills was furious. She wanted you dismissed. What did you do yesterday?”

“I measured out the meats and spiced for her sausage. I had everything β€”” She grew resentful. “Why are you laughing?”

“You were too helpful, Sapphire.” He snapped his fingers and motioned to a woman in the yellow costume of the restaurant. ” Tara will show you what to do. You’ll need to change into the kitchen outfit before you can join us here.”

As Tara searched through the rack of uniforms in a small dressing room, Sapphire crumpled about being kicked out of the kitchen. ” I could make her sausages if she wanted to take a day off.”

“You’re a sharp one, aren’t you? You’re fortunate Chef Frills didn’t stick a fork in your back! The old hag guards her recipes the way a banker guards his vault. No one is allowed to know what she puts in her sausage. She’s famous for it.”

“I wondered why my questions always annoyed her. I thought she expected me to figure out things for myself.” It had taken three weeks of watching before Sapphire finally figured out all the ingredients and proper portions. She recorded everything in the book Precious gave her.

On her way home, she ordered beef. Pork and veal(calf flesh) from the butcher, asking him to grind them and have everything ready on Saturday. She purchased the spices she would need, then worked late into the night so the family would have Frills sausages,β€”fried potatoes β€”and eggs for dinner.

She set aside enough for Precious to sample.

Pleased, she watched her family devour the meal. Mama and Jane complimented her cooking. Even Kelvin had something nice to say. Papa paid her no compliments, but when Kelvin reached for the last sausage, Papa got his hand into it first.

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“I hope you like it precious.” She bit her lip, watching her friend sample her sausages. “I didn’t use all of the spiced Chef Frills does, but I added some allspice.”

Precious raised her head, eyes gleaming.”Its wonderful!” She spoke with cheeks bulging. Mama would die for the recipe.”

“I’ll write it out for her.” Sapphire put her hands behind her head. “I have other recipes too.”

Precious licked her fingers.” Are you going to start a restaurant? ” Sapphire snickered.”And have Chef Frills coming after me with her meat cleaver?” She looked up at the cloudless blue sky and allows herself to dream.”No. I’m just collecting the best so that someday, when I have a hotel or lodge, I’ll know how to cook well enough to keep my guests happy.

“They’ll be happy and fat!” Precious laughed. She flopped back beside Sapphire. “Its good to have you home. And not just because you’ve learned how to make the best sausage I’ve ever tasted!”

“I’m not going to stay long.”

“What do you mean?”

“Every muscle in my body aches. I’m nothing more than a pack of mule carrying trays up and down. I need to find another job where I can learn more. And there are none here.

Precious grinned.” Think of the honour of working inside the walls of one of the biggest hotel in Delta.!”

“Very funny.”

“Go to Delta, then. Its not so far away and you would come home every few weeks to visit. We could still have our walks. My father could help you. He knows the manager of Dominic Hotel.”

Precious’s dad was more than willimg

He wrote a letter of recommendation. “Enoch Edewor always needs good workers. I’ll send him a letter.” A few days later, he told Sapphire that Enoch Edewor needed an assistant cook. “He’ll pay you forty thousand naira a month, and you’ll have a room off the kitchen.”

Mama congratulated Sapphire on her good fortune. Papa didn’t care where she worked as long as she paid him his money. Jane took the news poorly.”How long will you be gone this time? And don’t tell me to sleep with the dog. She keeps me awake.”

“Grow up, Jane!”

Her sister burst into tears and turned to Mama for comfort, then felt too sick to attend church the next day.

“Mama, you can’t keep coddling her.”

“She has such a tender heart. She’s easily bruised.”

When service ended, Papa stood talking with other business owners, discussing hard times. Kelvin went off with his friends. Mama tucked Sapphire’s hand into the crook of her arm. “Let’s take a walk. Its been a while since I’ve gone down the river. Remember how we use to walk there when you were a little girl?”

They stopped several times along the way. “You’ve been retless all week, Sapphire. Something’s on your mind.”

“I’m worried about you, Mama. You work too hard.”

She patted Sapphire’s hand.”I do what needs to be done. And I enjoy it.”

She sighed.” So you’re going to Delta. I think this will be the beginning of a long journey for you.” She walked more and more slowly, each breath more difficult. When they came to the bench near the road, Mama could go no further.

“When I was a girl, I walked all day along this route.” Her lips had turned a faint tinge of blue despite the warmth of the afternoon. ”

“We should get back home, Mama.”

“Not get. Let me sit awhile in the sunshine.” Mama didn’t look at Sapphire but up the heavens. Some birds flew by, chittering as they landed among the branches of a nearby tree. Mama’s eyes shone with tears. “Your father called you a bastard to my face once.”

“I remember.”

She had been five or six at the time, and Papa had flown into one of his drunken rages. He grabbed her by the hair and shoved her across the room to the mirror. “Look at you! You’re nothing like your mother! You’re nothing like me! See those ugly eyes! Who will be fool enough to take you off my hands when you become a lady?” Papa had let go of her so abruptly, Sapphire fell against the mirror and cracked it.”And now bad luck on top of everything else!”

Tears slipped down Mama’s cheeks.” You cried for hours. I tried to explain he’d been drinking and didn’t know what he was saying.”

“He knew, Mama. That’s what hurts so much.”

Mama sighed. She took Sapphire’s hand firmly. “You have my mother’s eyes. She didn’t like your father. She didn’t want me to marry him.”

“Maybe you should have listened.”

“Then I wouldn’t have had Kelvin or you or Jane. The three of you are my creates blessings in life. I’ve never been sorry.”

“Never?”

“I know your father can be cruel and selfish at times. But there were tender moments in the beginning. He lives with bitter disappointment. He’s never learned to count his blessings. If you are to rise above your circumstances, you must learn that, dear.” She took Sapphire’s hand again.”Don’t worry so much about me. I learned a long time ago to go to God in prayers. She closed her eyes. β€œI imagine Jesus gathering me in his arms and lifting me onto his lap and holding me there like a child cradled against a mother’s heart. His words are full of comfort. He strengthens me in my weakness. ”

She opened her eyes and smiled at Sapphire. But You’re more like your father than you are like me. You have his passion and ambition. You want more than life has given you. “She sighed deeply, ” And I love him. I have always loved him and always will, despite his faults and frailties. ”

“I know, Mama. I just wish your life would be easier.”

β€œAnd if it were easier, would I have given my heart so fully to learn love? Wherever you go, let Christ be your refuge. Put your hope in him, and you won’t be disappointed by what life offers. ”

Mama lifted her head again. β€œLook at the birds.” Shivering despite the warm day, Mama drew her cloth more tightly around her shoulders. β€œMost species fly in a flock.” A tear ran down her cheek. β€œAn eagle flies alone.”

Sapphire felt her throat tighten. Pressing her lips together, she closed her eyes.

Mama put both hands around Sapphire’s. “You have my blessing, Sapphire. I give it to you wholeheartedly and without reservation. You have my love. And I will pray for you everyday of my life. Don’t be afraid to leave.”

“What about Jane, Mama?”

Mama smiled. “Jane is our lovely little pigeon. She’ll never fly far from home.”

They walked down the road together, Mama leaning into Sapphire for support. “Don’t come home too often. There may come a time when your father won’t let you go.”

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I can’t begin to comprehend how much response this story has generated and how much response I’ve received. Thanks so much for giving this story a chance and i hope you enjoyed reading it as much as i love writing it.

Question time!!!

1) What do you think will happen to Sapphire from here?

2) What do you think of Sapphire’s father?

3) What are your thoughts on Kelvin, Precious,Jane and Chef Frills?

4) What kind of mother is Sapphire’s mum?

5) What parenting style is Sapphire being raised with?

Please don’t forget to comment, feedbacks will let me know what I can do to write better. Thanks for reading.

Lots of love,

Aanuoluwa xxx

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