After hearing Thea’s side of the story, Anna slowly left Thea’s room; her mind distorted with the story that Thea had just shared with her.
“Ahh, I didn’t know that you and Thea had that kind of relationship.”
Anna blushed as she closed the door to Thea’s room.
“You’ve got it all wrong, Iman. We were just talking.”
“Well, I wonder if Samar knew you were ‘talking’ with Thea?” Iman asked, mimicking quotation marks in the air with her fingers.
“Of course she knows!” Anna said indignantly. “She saw us earlier.”
“And how did she take it?”
Now that she thought about it, Samar did look strange earlier on when she came across the both of them in the kitchen. Yet since she did not say anything, Anna assumed that she was alright with it.
“She didn’t say anything.”
“It took you a while to answer me,” Iman teased.
“She really didn’t say anything to us, and well, why should she? We were just talking.”
Iman tsked audibly.
“Seeing the way she was protective over you, I assumed the both of you were in a relationship of some sort, especially as you were given the room right next to her. Her floor is after all on the privileged side of the place.” When Anna turned scarlet, she continued, “I guess I got it wrong then.”
Before Iman could walk away, Anna halted her.
“Iman, do you mind if I dropped by to talk to you as well?”
She raised her brows at Anna.
“I’m assuming that you meant that in a literal sense and not as a euphemism. Sure, why not, though I doubt we have much in common to talk about.”
“I’m curious …” Anna trailed.
“Of … this profession? Why? Are you interested in taking part as well?”
“I’m curious as to why you would do this.”
“You’ve been barely here for a month and you’re already being nosy?”
“No, I’m not. I apologise if you feel like I’m butting in your personal life. I was just curious, that’s all.”
“Curiosity killed the cat.”
“I won’t ask again; I’m sorry.”
As she turned to run down the stairs, Iman called after her.
“Come and find me when you’re done with your maid duties.”
“You seem to have too much of time on your hands. Should I add to your workload?”
“Oh, I’m so sorry. I’ll go and prep for lunch now.”
Samar watched as Anna made her way into the kitchen, wrenching the fridge door open as she scanned its contents. She then took out a big bag loaded with vegetables and set them on the counter. Upon washing them, she then lined them up, separating the amount that she wanted to use for the day.
Samar approached the kitchen counter and pulled up a stool, sitting opposite Anna as she went on the task of peeling the skin off the onions and potatoes. She wondered about the topic of conversation between Thea and Anna earlier on but knew that asking about it would shed too much attention onto Thea.
“What are you thinking about so seriously?” Samar asked.
“Well … it’s just that I had a talk with Thea,” Anna said, not noticing the change of look on Samar’s face. “I was wondering you see why she had chosen this profession.”
“And now that you know her reasons?”
“I still don’t get it.”
“What is it that you don’t understand?”
“I mean she said this profession is her way of taking back her power from her father. But isn’t it you’re actually giving the power to someone else instead?”
“It doesn’t work the way you think it does, Anna. You’re just seeing it in a physical perspective; you are oblivious to the mental effects it has.”
Putting a pot on the stove, Anna began to fill it with water before heaping in potatoes and carrots into it. Glancing at Samar for guidance, she diced the chicken that Samar had prepped earlier on and mixed them into the pot as well.
“What do you mean by the mental effects?” Anna asked.
“I mean that it is obvious that this profession affects your psyche as well. The power is indeed in our hands, unlike how you believe it to be otherwise.”
“To be honest, this whole thing makes no sense. From what I’ve witnessed the whole time I’ve been here up until now, it doesn’t seem to make sense. Would knowing yours make sense?” As if in an afterthought, she added, “What’s your story, Samar? Can I know?”
Samar stared at her, and yet she seemed lost elsewhere.
“It’s none of your business.”
“Patrick, I’m surprised to see you back so soon.”
“The lure of your place is just too strong to resist.”
Madam Ahjunta snickered at him. Patrick Gomez had been their patron ever since she started running her business. His high ranking position in the police force has helped them survive countless of police raid in the past, to an extent that they hardly got raided now; what was the point since he was going to save them anyways?
The price that she had to pay for the protection? She had to ‘serve’ him anytime he came calling – or at least, not her personally.
That was a reasonable price to pay to her mind.
“So what brought you here?” she asked.
“I heard you have a new girl that you have added to your roster. I came to … visit her,” he replied softly.
“I see. Yes, I have a new girl; however, she’s merely a maid here. I don’t intend to sell her off, especially since Samar was the one who brought her over.”
“Samar?” he asked, surprised. “Well, that’s interesting. That girl hardly cares about anyone else in this world. Why would she take in someone under her care?”
“It seems like this girl has lost her memory.” As if suddenly struck by the idea, she scooted closer towards Patrick. “Do you think you can help find out about her? I mean, I don’t mind having her here but you never know, she might be on the run or wanted somewhere.”
Patrick scratched the stubbles on his chin. Madam Ahjunta had a point of course; not that he was going to admit it to her face. He smiled slyly as her.
“And if I run this … errand of yours, what would my payment be?”
She knew he would not do anything for free; he was a shark after all.
“I’m sure we can come up with something, if your findings are substantial of course.”