The chest that belonged to my grandmother sat on the table in front of me, the lawyer had left it there right after I signed off some papers. I was still amazed that this is all Granny could leave behind for me, but it had to be of some value to me. I put it aside and went about the business of the day, weekends were stressful and every second mattered, especially for a caterer like me.
I had just gotten home when my phone started ringing, it was a last minute order for jollof rice for a bridal shower. I mentally took stock of what I had in the pantry and agreed to it. That aside, I placed the chest on the kitchen counter and looked at the lock.
“That’s weird,” I muttered, wetting the end of a napkin to wipe off what seemed like rust on the top panel, the engraving read in Latin: ab intra, I rolled my eyes and reached again for my phone and entered the words into the translate app.
“From within,” I read aloud, looking from my phone to the chest. I grabbed and held it up to the light, noticing a receptacle of sorts protruding from the lock mechanism. In the back of my mind, I remembered granny always sporting a Band-Aid on her thumb. I pulled out a drawer and rustled about for a paring knife, with it I made a small cut across the pad of my thumb, then placed the finger over the receptacle, holding the box with my other hand to steady myself.
I gasped and the blood bubbled and slowly vanished into the chest. It seemed to come alive in my hands, as it warmed and started beating with a slow but distinct pulse. My eyes almost popped out of my head as opened on its own. In its depths sat cards with faded handwriting on it, I realized they were my grandmother’s secret recipes. Granny won all sorts of cooking contests back in the day, that’s actually why I wanted to be a caterer, having her recipes in my stead would change everything, starting from my next order. I rustled through the cards until I found the recipe for jollof rice. When I was little, I watched some judges from a contest visit my grandmother, offering huge sums of money for the recipe I now held in my hand.
I skimmed over the ingredients of the recipe, after noting that the method was essentially the same: onions, tomato paste, fresh cherry tomatoes, curry, basil… a pint of blood. I froze as I read it again, the fact that I even considered it sent shivers down my neck, but curiosity was getting the better of me.
“I need blood to cook my jollof rice.” I said to my reflection on the fridge, “I need blood to cook my jollof rice and it doesn’t still sound crazy…okay.”
I ran a hand over my face and pinched my upper arm. Oh shit.
I glanced at the clock and picked up my keys. As I drove around mindlessly, I questioned if it was really necessary to cook with my own blood. I found myself in front of a hospital supply store, I walked in numbly and planted myself in front of the attendant.
“What can I help you with?” he intoned dryly, his face betraying his impatience. I rattled my list, counting the items off my fingers: cotton wool, methylated spirit, bandages, and a tourniquet. He nodded and picked the items off the shelves.
When I got home, I went ahead to do meal prep, letting the chicken marinate, chopping the vegetables for the salad, I set the hospital supplies on the counter and went to bed, hoping that sleep will chase away the crazy idea of cooking with my blood.
I got up before my alarm went like a person possessed. I went into the kitchen and poured myself a glass of water, eyeing the pharmacy bag on the counter. Turning away from it, I measured out the rice I needed, gave it a wash and set it on the stove to parboil. I placed onions and fresh tomatoes in a bowl and reached for a knife. The words ab intra floated eerily in my head as my hand went over the card I left on the counter. I dropped the knife in the bowl and groaned, making my mind up in that moment, I picked up the bag and sank to the floor, spreading the contents of the bag on my thighs, I went in for the tourniquet first, snaking it around my arm, one end of it in my mouth like a heroin addict as I tightened it. I took a plastic plate and set it on the ground beside my tied arm, I took a deep breath and tapped my arm repeatedly, the vein popped up in response, I reached for the cotton wool and spirit next.
When I was done disinfecting my fingers and the area, I tapped it made a fist. I got the needle and put it in a holder, the tube was attached to the holder, and I unsheathed the needle and reached for the insertion point. I hissed a little as the needle broke skin, but as I watched my dark red blood flow down into the bowl, I was mesmerized, I untied the tourniquet from my arm and just sat there, watching my blood flow.
Moments later I found myself stirring the dark contents of the bowl into the boiling rice, my stomach heaved repeatedly at the thought of other people eating my blood unknowingly, but I comforted myself with the knowledge that the meal was prepared under the best hygienic conditions…and my blood was clean. With that, I placed the lid over the pot and let it cook.
The brides’ best friend came by to pick up the food a few hours later to pick up the order and virtually apologized as soon as she got down from the car. I assured her that everything was okay and offered her a sample plate of the rice while I got everything together. As she put the first spoonful in her mouth, I self-consciously itched the gauze covering on my arm, I heard her ooh and aah in the way people do when they enjoy food and a small smile graced my lips. I swung round to meet her gaze, she seemed to be lost in thought, and suddenly she stirred.
“What did you put in this rice?”
I coughed delicately, “you don’t like it.”
“Oh no, I do, there’s an extra flavour I can’t place. It’s delish.”
Mistress of the Mistresses Thoughts
Hersey97.WordPress.com – is a young female who seems like a rose garden caressed by an afternoon breeze. Short story writer, Born skeptic. Has a great smile
So I’m the first to tell the bride’s best friend that she’s an unconscious vampire.
Thank you Ink Goddess, as I’m now trying to assure myself that nothing is wrong with buka 5 jellof rice.
I hoped you enjoyed your meal
The sole aim of this piece was to ruin jollof for everybody. Why? 😭😭😭
The Iya basira’s of the world😁 not even this can ruin jollof for me though 😋