Making Friends and Allies

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It has been almost 4 weeks since I moved here. Time is flowing and life is moving. I am slowly settling in, finding the rhythm of life and becoming immune to sights and sounds of this place.

I haven't seen Sally at all during this time. She has totally disappeared. I am not exactly keen on coming face to face with her.

Luke spends time with me in the evenings and weekends. Joe comes to pick Luke from school and we walk home together. Joe leaves me at the back entrance of the room. Luke ends up staying with me. I don't really have heart to tell him to go home.

Joe still follows me around when I am walking to and from school or in the neighbourhood. But he leaves me alone if I am talking to people or visiting someone.

I suspect that Joe is reporting to Sam about my activities. But Joe's lack of English knowledge is my advantage. He can tell Sam the people I am meeting or the places I am visiting but he can't report what I am talking.

Luke's caring duties have automatically fallen on my shoulders without my consent or knowledge. Don't get me wrong I love that child and like looking after him but it would have been good if I was informed or consulted for his care.

I see Sam every day. I can't completely avoid him while living in the neighbourhood. We meet each other in passing. He waves his hands or nods at me and I nod back.

Sometimes we talk. Mostly about Luke. He asks me about Luke's progress at school or if he is behaving when he is with me. We also have 'Discussions' about Sam's parenting style. Sam has finally agreed to install a side car to his bike for Luke after one such discussion.

I request Sam to get a carer for Luke. He offers me money for looking after Luke instead, I decline the offer. The man must think that he can buy anything with money. He insists that I should accept some money to cover my expenses and I accept. Sam just hands me a credit card and asks me to buy anything I want.

I start to cook for just Luke and me.

One day Gary comes over to fix a leaking pipe in the kitchen. I offer him dinner for politeness sake and he accepts. Gary becomes more and more talkative after I feed him.

I get the brilliant idea to use food to win my War.

Gary becomes frequent guest at my dinner table. I ask Joe to join us if he is around. Mysteriously enough Joe is around at dinner time quite often. Alex also joins us, sometimes accompanied by Monique.

Monique's coming proves to be a turning point for me. Slowly Monique's other friends start coming in their free time.

Soon my tiny kitchen is full to overflowing. Gary moves the partition between my bedroom and the kitchen to make more room. A foldable table, and many mismatched chairs, along with a two seater sofa appear in the room overnight. I refuse the well-meaning offers of a donated bed, and get a double bed myself from a charity store.

Most of the people in the block have tasted my food at least once. Thankfully Sam has not shown any desire to join the dinner table.

Feeding a child is easy enough but feeding so many people is lot harder. I can't cook elaborate dinners. Just quick and simple meals. Mostly one pot dishes accompanied by a side dish.

I am not left to do everything on my own. All the people in the block help me out. The help ranges from offering to carry groceries, and doing cleaning to doing the actual cooking, even doing my laundry.

I am now doubly glad of accepting money from Sam. Thankfully he has not asked me about my growing grocery expense. I am getting malicious glee out of using his money to win a war against him and a strange satisfaction from giving back the money to the people, that he is scamming in a roundabout way.

Some people working and living in the block need all the help they can get, but they have their pride. They won't accept anything from outsiders. They won't accept money from me, even if I had money to give. They are reluctant to accept the food as well.

I manage to convince them that 'I am a young girl living alone just like them and I need their help. I am very lonely. I love to cook and end up cooking more than I need. I won't eat anything if I am left alone. The food I cooked is going to waste if nobody eats it'.

I have visited almost all the businesses in the area except the creepy naturopath, although only during daytimes.

I have even visited the brothel across the road and had tea with Madam Rose. I had to use the back entrance when going there and was strongly discouraged from exploring the premises.

I am welcomed everywhere mainly because I am still a novelty and curiosity. People still think that Sam is interested in me.

I try to take food with me on my visits. I don't take anything fancy. I search the internet for recipes for simple easy to make food from different regions. I try to take food that will remind various people of their home.

I even ask people if there is anything they would like to have. I am bombarded with requests. The requests are accompanied by recipes or offers to cook the dish. All I have to do is provide the use of my kitchen.

I am compiling all the information I have collected so far. By this time I have met almost everyone in the block and created personal file for everyone. Some files are still small but I am adding more and more information in them as I go along.

Life for me is busy and getting busier. I am literally drowning in things to do. School in the morning. Cooking and other chores in the evening. Along with preparation for the next day and all the information compilation.

Most days, people can see me standing near my kitchen counter busily working on the laptop and keeping an eye on the Chilli or a Stew dish I am making or watching someone cook a special dish. There is almost always someone in the room helping me or playing with Luke.

Even the wanna be strippers or the exotic Asian girls working across the road spend time with Luke. I don't see anything wrong with letting them take care of Luke anymore. First of all I am there. I always make sure that person is clean in terms of health, hygiene or drug use and behaves properly.

Playing with Luke can be therapeutic for them. All of them had to grow up too old too fast. They are missing huge chunk of their own childhood. Most of them will never have any kind of family or lead a normal life.

It's good for them to get in touch with their inner child.

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