I returned home quite late on Sunday. And since not having a phone has given me relatively more freedom with replying to messages and phone calls, I had often missed desperate cries of help from her.
Sunday night. I returned to the following conversation:
Her: Hi sorry.
Her: Free for lunch tomorrow?
Her: Please call me back
Her: I’m going to bed.
In the end, we managed to meet for lunch on Monday afternoon. She didn’t feel the same, she had ‘stopped caring’. And I felt helpless not knowing what to say, or what to do to help her keep holding on. It is selfish of me to say that I need her, so I don’t say anything. Instead, I do what I do best, offer my presence, offer to just sit there and share oxygen.
So I ditched my plan of staying behind in the library to study, and went over to hers to study together on Monday evening.
We didn’t end up doing much. And the most memorable thing that I remember from that evening was when she was cooking.
Rice with bok choi.
Simple. Yet homey. Something that feels like home. Something that sends you warmth and nostalgia for home. When she said that she was running out of rice, I was taken aback wondering why she couldn’t just buy rice from Tesco’s, or Sainbury’s or the many other choices of supermarkets London has to offer.
Whilst pouring the remainder of the bag of rice she had into the plastic container, she said that her preference of rice was when ‘rice smells like rice.’ Although that may be a bit weird to think that something as bland as rice alone could be comforting with it’s scent, it’s true. When she said this, I was immediately reminded of the many adverts we’d often see come on TV whilst growing up in Hong Kong.
(You don’t need to understand it, just listen out for the word ‘Heung Pun Pun’ – as a descriptor for what ‘rice smells like rice’ is supposed to mean. https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=%E9%87%91%E8%B1%A1%E7%89%8C)
Then she ran her fingers through the rice several times. Gripping. Lifting. Letting Go. Hearing the grains of rice gently fall back into the pile. For a while, we didn’t say anything. But I didn’t need to say anything, the silence was a mutual understanding that we’re there for each other. Through the small and big things. At least I hope she knows.
Today. We were both happier. And that’s good.