Filling the Appetite of Love
(This is my translation of the Chinese piece,
Shortly after university graduation, I had such a pursuer. To impress
me, he tried to end his life. I was young then, thought this was love
at its greatest, and half in sympathy, half in
thanksgiving, married him. My parents only found out a week later
about the union they had so sternly opposed. Despite, my loved ones
gave me a handsome dowry, which I in full trust asked him
But before our honeymoon ended, he had already gambled that money
away. Then, he went after my salary and pocket change, and made life
mirror some novel of bleak romance, except less in romance and more in
I was without a penny, and ran out of food. Having lost in marriage in
such haste was one tiding I could not break to my family. So, everyday,
I would bike home in the luxurious apparel that my folks had
fashioned for my wedding. Because I had little courage to tell of my worsening situation, I would only stop by for one meal,
until my parents discovered the famished look that could no longer be
justified by claims of casual illness. They helped me break free from
this marriage without any demands of compensation. Ashamed and
resentful, I strolled from city to city. In my dreams, tears of
hunger often reminded me to close the door to love.
Then, Mr. F came along. This man, in his first visit to my place,
locked me out of my kitchen. As if he were the host, he fried,
roasted, steamed, and broiled. Two hours later, he tabled a
mouth-watering feast, and instilled in me such exhilaration with that
Men who love to cook are a rarity to begin with. More surprisingly, after he moved in as my roommate
(I must declare that we lived in our separate rooms) Mr. F cooked every single day. We
teamed up, and experimented with new recipes every meal. Our daily
conversation was so predictably mundane: What’s cooking tomorrow? Are
there buns left in the fridge? Are fruit supplies ample?
I fostered two homeless cats, one a crippled toddler, and the other an
Mr. F made an excellent first impression on the cats, because of his
title dish—steamed grass carp, a fish that he first marinated in
strips of ginger, mushrooms, cooking liquor, and his secret mix of herbs.
Then, powering the stove from high to low, then from low to
high, he steamed the fish with his own brand of seasoning. Such
heavenly delicacy—I saw my two cats perch up, though fast asleep just
moments ago. With their fur standing head on end, the cats jumped up
and down, meowing piercingly at the clouds that rose from the silvery
steamer. When the fish made its way onto the dining table, with a second
cloth of seasoning it sizzled, a sizzle that easily out-dueled the
world's most pleasant music. A vapor of white ascended,
enlivening the lasting savor around the room. The cats scurried about
anxiously. That scene, that moment, was as much a celebration for the
cats, as it was for the two of us.
Munching and chomping begged for post-meal strolls. Food was consumed
more and more. Strolls lasted longer and longer. And talks brought us
closer and closer. Until one day, in a casual walk, Mr. F suggested of
us holding hands. I remember turning my body away from him, but... not
too much. So, just one try and he caught my hand. Thereafter when we
strolled, we held hands.
As you can see, I had become Mr. F’s girlfriend. In a time when we
overstocked our fridge and succumbed to the yearnings of our bellies, I
began learning English from him. Mr. F boasted a Level 6 in English, a
genius in computers, and an excellence in his post as software
engineer. Those blessed days passed by steadily. Everyday, we would
find another strength that the other person held. Every day would pass
in an unvoiced pact drafted by our common interests. In the end, we
both ballooned up, and then started to slim down together. Up on the
mountain we camped, and down in the ocean we sailed. Our travel
abounded with beautiful scenery and glorious meals.
A beautiful girl who lived in a grand mansion was once troubled by
nightmares of hunger -- that must have been a scene from a television show.
Together with Mr. F, I never had one such dream. When my friends now
see me, they all would yell at the top of their voice: “My, oh my! How
you’ve changed!” Yes, that fragile girl, who had to smile through her
sorrow, had grown to be healthy and confident; a pretty girl now, who
has learned to smile like a sweet sunflower. Every dish, every soup,
is small in itself. But, to cook them day in and day out is not an easy
undertaking. That man who held his post in the kitchen, who looked
past the sweat that washed down his face, seems surrounded by an aura
of light, a gentle light, as if he were an angel.
So, ‘tis time to marry. Or is it? My heart says: Sigh, I am older than
he. My tummy says: What's the big deal? Heart says: I’ve married but he
has not. Tummy says: If he marries you, wouldn’t he have been married? Heart says: right now I’m not as financially sound as he. Tummy
says: All the more reasons why you should marry him!
In the end, my tummy out-reasoned my heart. I remember that there was this lady who would always conclude: “The best way to
capture a man’s heart is through his stomach.” But she did not speak
of the veracity of the converse.
The ending of this story pens seamlessly into that of a fairytale: two
little pigs and two kittens plump as piglets, lived happily ever after
in a beautiful condo.