4 comments

Historical Fiction Fiction Contemporary

Every one has gathered around the meeting room. Excitement and anticipation filled the air as Mr. Davis, the marketing director, is going to announce who is going to be the next senior manager at the marketing department. All eyes were on Aisha Mahmoud, as the rumor in the mill was, Aisha would get the promotion. Aisha was one of the hardworking employees in the marketing department who knows each and everything about the projects and manages to smoothen the department out with her adequate work and diligence.

"You are going to get the promotion," Chloe, Aisha's colleague and friend whispered to Aisha in a hushed tone.

Aisha simply smiled.

"So, are you to treat us if you get this promotion," Sabrina, another colleague asked from Aisha.

"We'll see," Aisha simply shrugged.

Mr. Davis entered into the meeting room and the room was hushed into silence as it his presence. A big burly looking man with a thin moustache and balding head, he looks around the room.

"Hello everyone," he greeted in his booming voice. "I am sure, you are all expecting to find out who is going to be our new senior manager, as you know the former senior manager, Renee Smith has resigned and so this position has been vacant since then, I have decided that instead of hiring someone new, I thought I would give this position to someone, who worked hard for this department, who stayed up all night making sure that the projects are met with dead line and who is known in this department as a diligent and hard working employee..."

Many of the eyes were on Aisha but she remained focused on Mr. Davis, her heart thumping loudly, butterflies running around her body, giving her a tinge of excitement.

"And so I am excited to announce...that I am promoting Makayla Reiter for this post!"

Makayla grinned, her blonde hair tied into a bun, wearing a crispy white blouse and black pencil skirt. Everyone in the room seemed to be surprised at this unexpected promotion. There was a weak clap and slowly, everyone started clapping weakly and numbly as Makayla came forward to shake hands with Mr. Davis to accept her promotion as the new senior marketing manager.

***

That happened almost a month ago and Aisha is now taking a leave of absence. What's the point of working for a company whose boss didn't care about your hardworking abilities?

She sits in front of the television, flicking off the channels. Both Chloe and Sabrina has sent numerous text messages and phone calls, asking if Aisha was all right.

"That bastard, you should go and complain to HR," Chloe was saying.

"I am sure Makayla will be better than me," Aisha assured her friend.

"Please, the whole department is talking about how unfair that you didn't get the promotion--you deserved that promotion,"

Aisha should resign and move on to a different better company. Maybe she should do that. She should move to a company who would really appreciate her work.

She flicked on to a channel that is airing a cooking show. The chef was going to make some cookies. Immediately, childhood memories came back into Aisha's mind. The days when she would visit her grandmother, Nana in Cincinnati for the holidays and how she would help her grandmother to bake cakes, breads and cookies.

Watching the show, Aisha missed her grandmother. Her grandmother passed away two years ago and the stories of her childhood in Poland, her life during the war and Holocaust and how she moved to America after the war from Europe to start new life...those stories always intrigued Aisha as a child.

And immediately, she remembers when she made Rugelach with her grandmother and she found herself back in her grandmother's kitchen, reminiscing the fond memories.

"Back then, even non Jews would come and buy Rugelach from our bakery," her grandmother would boast as they would mix the ingredients together. "The recipe has been passed from generation to generation and my father taught me and my brother this recipe,"

Rugelach...Jewish Pastry as she would name it. It was very delicious, pastry filled with cream cheese and Nanna would put either chocolate inside the pastry or homemade strawberry jam or fruit paste inside the pastry. Aisha remembered how she would eat so many of rugelach because it was delicious. Recently, she bought a rugelach from a bakery to remember her Nana but the taste was nothing as delicious as her grandmother's rugelach.

Turning off the TV, Aisha sauntered into her kitchen. Maybe she should recreate her grandmother's signature pastry. She tries to remember the ingredients her grandmother used to make the rugelach. Cream cheese of course. It's a must Aisha... her grandmother would say. Aisha quickly scan through her fridge and to her dismay, the cream cheese was not there. Quickly, she takes a notepad, trying to jot down the ingredients needed to make rugelach.

Cream cheese, unsalted butter, granulated sugar, kosher salt (she would have to find this from a Jewish grocery store but Aisha remembered her grandmother would sometimes use normal salt), vanilla extract, all purpose flour, brown sugar, ground cinnamon, raisins, walnuts, walnuts, chocolate, apricot reserves and egg and milk.

Excitement filling her in, Aisha dashes out of her apartment to the grocery store to buy the items for her grandmother's rugelach.

***

Aisha...I don't believe in electric mixer...hand mixer is the best, you have to mix cream cheese and butter in a bowl.

But Nana it's hard!

You will have to try it...

Aisha mixes the cream cheese and butter together in a bowl. She wants to use the electric mixer but she remembered how her grandmother was adamant about using electric mixer as they did not have "electric mixers" at that time.

Add sugar, salt and vanilla, slowly...her grandmother's voice came in. Aisha adds them slowly, as if her grandmother's spirit is in the kitchen.

Now add flour and mix very well...

And what seemed like an eternity and satisfied that she had mixed the ingredients very well, Aisha flours the board very well, like her Nana used to do.

You have to knead the dough with your fingers, knead the dough until it is soft and then roll the dough...her grandmother would instruct.

And Aisha followed her grandmother's voice and after satisficed, she roll the dough into a ball, cover it with a plastic and refrigerate for one hour.

***

The kitchen looked messy, with flour scattered around the countertops and some ingredients spilled on the countertops but Aisha didn't care. She can feel her grandmother's presence as she completes making the rugelach. Normally it would take only one hour for her Nana to make batches of rugelach but it took almost the entire afternoon for Aisha to make a batch of rugelach and finally, she was able to taste a piece of rugelach.

She looks at the pastry, filled with apricot preserve and chocolate filling, the top of the pastry covered with granulated sugar. It looked exactly the same way her grandmother used to make and it tasted the exact same way like her grandmother's rugelach. A single tear rolled down her cheek. Aisha was glad that at least, she was able to remember her grandmother's signature recipe--the Rugelach, which was passed from generation to generation and Aisha was proud to carry on that tradition.

***

Six months later...

"Wow! Aisha, you are very talented!" Sabrina cried with her mouth filled with pastry.

Aisha grinned. A month ago, she opened her own bakery shop--Nana's Bakery as she named after her grandmother. Aisha had come across her grandmother's cookbook on her recent visit to Cincinnati and had decided to use her grandmother's cookbook to open up a bakery. It was a huge change in her career--from a working woman to a baker.

"What is this?" Chloe asked showing Aisha a pastry.

"That's rugelach--Jewish pastry," Aisha explained. "Made strictly from Nana's recipe."

"Wait...your grandmother was...a Jew?" Sabrina asked unbelievably.

"Yeah, actually, my grandmother came from a family of bakers back in Poland," Aisha explained. "And now, I am carrying out the tradition, here in America,"

"Wow...this is really good, is it OK if I have some more?" Chloe asked taking a huge bite from the rugelach.

Aisha smiled and she knew somewhere, her grandmother was smiling at her, beaming with pride. Because her grandmother once told her a story about the certain rugelach.

***

1943, Poland

Minka doesn't like those Nazis and Germans but she had no other choice. The only way she could know the whereabouts of her brother-in-law was bribing a certain Nazi officer who seemed to be lurking around the ghetto, making life miserable to the Jews. But this officer seemed to be having a soft spot towards Minka and Minka was determined to take advantage of that.

Sure enough, he was there with that Nazi uniform. Under normal circumstances, she would have found him quiet handsome but Minka was not letting any romantic feelings go towards this man. He saw her and gave a smirk, approaching towards her.

"So, you brought what I asked you to bring?" he asked in German.

Minka knows German thanks to the fact that she studied German in school.

"Yes," she replied trying to sound normal though her voice was shaking. She takes the rugelach pastry, wrapped in newspaper. She has made the pastry with utmost difficulty, with all the ingredients up in rations and some of the ingredients like eggs were hardly found. But the German was determined to have the rugelach, made by Minka and was able to give her some of the ingredients she asked for.

"The Jewish Pastry," he smirked taking a bite from the rugelach. Minka stared at him as he savored the pastry and within two bites he finished the pastry, wiping the crumbs from his mouth with his hand.

"You Jews are clever at everything," The German was impressed. "And you are determined to find your brother-in-law right?"

And he tells her.

December 09, 2020 14:46

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

4 comments

Llind Kam
04:51 Dec 17, 2020

I love reading historical fiction. They are engaging and demands one's involvement. And your story is a lovely addition to the category. I liked that you gave us a glimpse of the past towards the end. It really helped me appreciate the importance of rugelach to this family.

Reply

Samadhee Ismail
14:21 Dec 18, 2020

Thank you!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Mandi R. Haqq
23:12 Dec 14, 2020

I could almost taste rugelach when I read this. I felt myself rooting for Aisha despite having just met her! I wondered about, weaving some of the history into where she was baking, or linking a little of looking at her current struggle and considering her grandmother's to build some tension there. I gave this a like :-)

Reply

Samadhee Ismail
14:21 Dec 18, 2020

Thank You!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply