Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Supper

The wind whispered softly on John's face as he walked along the empty lane. The road beside him was deserted, as the street lights casted their pale orange glow on the gravel. The shops beside him had their shutters down, except for one just a few feet away.

Chairs and tables were arranged neatly on the path in front of the shop, and John could see the figures of several people sitting around one of the tables. The wind which was caressing John's face earlier now brought with it the smell of hot steaming bowls of soup, and laughter of friends.

It was the supper place. Still standing faithfully in the midst of the night, waiting to feed any hungry souls who may be looking for a place to fill their stomach for the night.


John tried to remember exactly why he was back here again. It had taken him a thirty minute drive to reach this place, where it would have used to take five, and he wasn't exactly hungry. He felt that he was missing something, but food was not one of it.

He stood a few steps towards the shop as the wind continued to carry the smell of the food and the sound conversations to him, and together with it came something else entirely. It was intertwined and mixed seamlessly with the wind; every smell, sight and sound seemed to provoke different type of feelings in John.

Memories. He had came to relive the memories.

"One cup of iced Milo please, and one Maggie soup," John said to the gruff looking man that was waiting to take his order. He had a towel around his neck, and from his tired and indifferent look seemed to have been standing for a whole day. The man quickly jotted down his orders on a notepad, before tearing a piece of paper away and put it on John's desk.

John took the paper and stared at it. Half a year ago, the paper would have more items jotted down on it, her items. John could still remember it clearly. She liked Thai style fried maggie with no vegetables and a cup of iced milk tea to go with it. On other days she would try the spaghetti olio, or the butter chicken with naan. She never strayed much from these order. John would tease her about it, saying that life should be about trying new things and broadening one's experience. She did listen to his advice in the end, which was why she was trying out a new relationship with someone else right now.

Sitting at the table, John pictured how both of them used to stand in front of the shop, chatting with each other while waiting for their takeaway food to be ready. They would talk about their day, shared jokes and discuss about anything under the sun during that waiting time. They would laugh, they would get annoyed but most importantly, John had someone to talk to. Looking back, John never realized how something that seemed so trivial at last time would be something that he missed so much now.

He missed the late night talks with her as they waited for their food to be prepared, he missed her company, he missed her smile. He missed how they would carry their food back in one hand, while holding each other's hand with the other free hand, and he missed how they would watch shows together on his computer as they munched away on their food.

Eventually John's iced Milo and food came, and he began to play with it nostalgically. He scooped a spoonful of the soup into his mouth, and was disappointed at how even the soup does not taste the same anymore.

They broke up in the end, the details eluded him, something about their characteristics being too different. By then the suppers had become such a routine that he took it for granted. It became part of his everyday life, just like how brushing teeth or eating was, and he forgot the significance of it, until he went to back to the place one night and realized how lonely it was. It was the first night after their break up, and there he stood alone, without her by his side, updating him about her life. Suddenly there was no more laughs, no more teasing each other about their food choices, and suddenly he felt incredibly lonely.

He still took the food back to his room, but there was no longer another chair that needs to be prepared, no more argument about what show to watch next, and no more discussion about what what was going to happen in the latest episode. He was free, but he was also lonely.

Even after more than six months, the loneliness still has not abated, and it continued to hung around him, chewing bits of his soul away everyday, making him wish every now and then to go back to the past. To the day where he still stood on the pavement with her, one hand holding his tom yam mee, the other hand clasped within her fingers. It was the yearning to relive even bits of his past was the reason why he came to this supper place again.

We never know how precious an experience it until we lose it. And by the time we began to appreciate its importance, all that remains is a distant memory. A memory that serves as bittersweet reminder of how life used to be, and how life will never be the same again, no matter how much you wanted to go back. But the memory will stay, forever etched within our hearts, linking itself with the countless other memories that shape us into who we are today, the memory itself remaining the same while we continue to change and grow.

John gave a heavy sigh as he took a final sip from the iced Milo, before putting down a 50 dollar note and disappearing back into the night.


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