Slice of Life: ‘Cooking has helped heal me’

Cooking is my life. Other people want to cook for money or just to pass time or just for the sake of cooking. When you cook for someone, you have to cook with love.

It was on a Sunday evening last year. [My girlfriend] told me that she’s not feeling okay. So I told her: “Just relax.”

A little bit later she went to the bathroom [and] stayed there for a while. So I decided to go in there and she wasn’t okay. She couldn’t lift herself up so I decided to lift her. From there she just collapsed.

I decided to call for help. I called the emergency line; they said they were coming. Then she just fell down and passed on, just like that.

I waited for the emergency people from 6 o’clock in the evening and those people came in about 11.30. When they came, they checked her and said she had passed on. Those people let me down.

It’s life. There’s nothing that I can say or do because other people aren’t doing their jobs the way they are supposed to.

I decided to quit [cooking] for a while because I wasn’t myself at that time — I’m just starting to heal now — because she was part of my life. She was my everything. Each and everything we used to do in life she was there for me and I was there for her, so when she passed on I was lost.

Cooking has helped me a lot. [It] replaced my partner; it is part of my family. Cooking is in my blood. Something that someone isn’t going to take away from me. It will stick to me until I die. — Casey Ngobeni, chef at Q on First guesthouse, Johannesburg, as told to Arielle Schwartz

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