Friday, January 13, 2012

suap, sayang?

Suap, sayang?

Said the melodious voice. I turned to gaze lovingly at her. As I fed her a spoonful of my rice she looked at me with playful, twinkling eyes. I watched her chewing, her cheeks plump, her lips red and rosy; I wanted to kiss them a thousand times.

“The food here is good”, she said after the rice was finished, “not bad for a new restaurant”

I smiled. The food was good. But the best thing was eating with a lady I had pledged to love for life. We were content; a newly-married couple in a new restaurant.

As the years flew by, we would visit that restaurant regularly. We ate there to celebrate my new job. We ate there to celebrate my wife’s first pregnancy; and not too long after that, my son’s first birthday. We ate there to celebrate a new house, and even when we moved we always made it a point to eat there once every few months.

We ate there even as chefs came and gone, even as the restaurant changed hands and names. Our three children grew up loving the restaurant. We ate there to celebrate exam results and college applications. As they grew up and left home, we never forgot to meet at the restaurant, and share a meal.

And every one of those meals, my wife would ask me:

Suap, sayang?

And everytime I would smile, and feed her some of my rice.

But today will be our last meal here; the restaurant soon to be torn down to make way for newer shops.

The restaurant is now in disrepair; walls yellowing, floor sticky with years of dirt. Some of my grandchildren were visibly disgusted, and my heart fell.

Regret gripped me as I realized that this place will not mean to them what it did to me. But how can I to expect it to be? They did not enjoy the decades of memories which I enjoyed here…

Suddenly, a voice broke my reverie:

Suap, sayang?

The voice of a lady whom has seen better years. The voice now a croak, barely a melody left in it. I turned to gaze lovingly at her. Her eyes have lost its playful twinkle, but still they smiled lovingly at me. With my trembling, Parkinsons-ridden arm I fed her a spoonful of porridge – for after her second stroke she could no longer eat solid foods. And she could barely move her arms.

Her cheeks were wrinkly, her lips withered; but just as I have kissed them a thousand times before, I would still kiss them a thousand more.

“The food here is not bad”, she said after the porridge is finished. And with a wry smile she added, “not bad for an old restaurant”

The meal was good. But the best thing was sharing it with a lady I have loved for 55 years. We were content, an old couple in an old restaurant.

Work of semi-fiction.

Inspired by a couple who gives me hope that love burns eternal: my grandparents.

Happy belated anniversary, Nenek and Atuk! J