Thursday, February 09, 2023


The broth was excellent, the meat chunks cooked just right. She really enjoyed the bowl of noodle soup, and picked up small mouthfulls of rice stick deftly with her chopsticks. Then she lifted the bowl to her lips, properly with both hands, and with reverence supped the last of the broth. She set the bowl down, and placed her chopsticks across the bowl. Finished. Good.

She had eaten alone, as sometimes old people do. There may not be anyone in their lives to eat with. A loss, perhaps, or their friends have other commitments that day. It happens.

Most of the customers were not there by themselves.
Well, except for a busdriver in a corner.

There were several tables of three or four people, many two person tables. I'd arrived during their busiest time and waited a bit for a table, but as soon as one came free I was ushered to eat. Placed my order -- "si tsan, m-koi" (set lunch number C) -- and within moments milk tea and soup were delivered to my table. As well as the bottle of Sriracha.

Out of the corner of my eye I sensed the old lady slumping.
There was a fleck of cilantro on her chin.
Her eyes were closed.
Over the next several minutes, others noticed too. As did the waitress. Fortunately she was just dozing, as one might after a good meal. She woke up gently, finished her tea, and paid. Several tables must have breathed a sigh of relief. Politely and inaudibly. I did.

As did also the totally imaginary other person at my table, because I don't really like dining by myself. She doesn't say much, what with being non-existent. Just enjoys her meal. Sometimes it's imaginary chicken, sometimes the porkchop.

I think next week she'll have noodles.

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