Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Over a Bowl of Thai Beef Noodle Soup

Block 183, Toa Payoh Central, Singapore. An old man, with silver mustache and beard trimmed to an inch long, spilled out his beads of wisdom at the hawker centre. It was him and his audience of only three, and then there was me seated at the far corner of an eight-person, elongated table, across, one seat apart from a young man, overhearing their discourse. They were done with dinner. Their mess all cleaned up save the man's cup of coffee, half-full. Black coffee it must have been, spelling a whole lot of luck to a much-needed goodnight sleep for the aged.

I had just started with mine, a Thai beef noodle soup from a newly-opened stall. This one's better than its Vietnamese brother at Block 177, I confess.

It was half past eight. Really, I was starving and could concentrate less on anything, except for food, of course. But I had my ears pricked up, anyhow.

And now the host was on a roll.

Old man: I started smoking at a very young age. It was in my secondary years. I am cleaner now, hopefully. Finally, I bid goodbye to smoking.

Young man: Did somebody tell you to stop smoking?

Old man: No one did. It was my body who did it. It almost gave up on me. And, oh, dear God, the Holy Spirit struck me in the head!

Young man's mother picked her excited hands, clapping several times. But hands barely touched each other. Such discreet hands.

Old man: No cigarettes for 10 years now.

Young man: Wow! After 50 long years! What an achievement!

Wife, sitting beside the old man, kept on smiling with beaming eyes.

Then I started with my mental calculations, wishing I had the sharpest of concentrations.


Post a Comment