A prequel to hospitality.
I jerked out of bed after saying my prayers. It’s past 10 in the morning and I’m expecting a guest in less than two hours. I changed my pj’s to an old skirt and made an unconscious glance in the mirror. For a split second, I thought of skipping the routine of facial scrub and foam but I had decided to wash anyway, as swiftly as I can. I could be in jjimjil bang now, where I would lie around lazily in chun gi to or Himalaya rock salt room, eating baked eggs and Korean ramen. But I’m a little worked up and blamed myself for it. I shouldn’t have slept too long! I had finished the scrub but didn’t continue with the foam as a form of punishment.
My mind is racing. I had to cook, clean and finish on time. I also plan to be neat and fresh when I meet my new friend, Diane. She will be the 7th guest in my humble flat themed garden. I remembered the plants and somehow managed to water them before I hurried out.
The next thing I knew I was buying some fresh chickens, moringa leaves, ginger and papaya from my local butcher’s and greengrocer’s. My butcher was happy, I can tell, because I didn’t buy the usual $2.50 ground meat but a kilo of chicken. Her eyes were glistening when she looked at me. And I had to say it again in her language, “mot kg ga”, to soothe her astonishment.
If I’m on a silly fastest to shop reality contest, I’d be on top of my game. With a big grocery bag on my left hand and an umbrella on my right—which served as my armor against feisty motorbikers in Vietnam—I walked my way back home briskly through the small winding alleys of Xo Viet Nghe Tinh.
The only delay that transpired this morning was the gate, which took an annoyingly 50 seconds or so before it sprang open. How can that gate act up when I had to give up facial foam and toothbrush? I must ask my landlady to change the battery of my key, I thought reassuringly.
By 11 am, my kitchen was as busy as the famous ‘pho’ stall on the street. I could smell the chicken broth with it’s fume gliding against the cupboard and into the exhaust fan. While am waiting for the tinola to cook, I polished the floor and did the dishes, ninja style. Then, I had a little sip of the broth after it boils. Perfect, I said, and felt my stomach growl. I hope she will like it.
At quarter to noon, I’m in the shower slathering on my favorite milk strawberry body wash and scrubbing my arms, legs and back in an unorganized fashion. I was in a hurry. I put on some fresh loose shirt with an anime print and matching orange-striped skirt, brushed my long wavy hair and fold it up into a messy bun. There’s no need to tidy it up. Not now. Thankfully, I had a moment to take in a long, deep breath. As if everything was orchestrated, my preparation ends with a text beep from her the second I breathe out.