Succulent flesh, glistening in the warm glow of light.
Sesame seeds resting atop a glaze of syrupy-sweet sauce.
Six perfectly-grilled pieces arranged in a row, slightly angled
– like well-disciplined soldiers awaiting their next order.
He sat there alone, peering into his iPhone. Those same perfect pieces untouched.
Suddenly, something base and virile raged in me. I heard the voice of demons yell– “ GET IN ME!” I glowered at the man-boy, ” You bespectacled nerd. You fiend! Don’t you know that when perfection calls, you answer? Don’t wait another second. You devour with fervour. Take in every last drip, every mouthful!”
I wanted him to share it. With me. If I can’t have all of it, at least lure him with my womanly charms to get some. Accost him to offer it to me as some sort of trade for my attention. He looked like easy prey. I could do it too. I can be charming. I can be whatever unagi called me to be. I furtively glanced back and forth from my empty table to his roll of unagi. How far was I willing to go for unagi? To talk to a stranger? An unattractive stranger? I contemplated the cost. I looked at his face.
I glanced at my table. I had not noticed seven pink, perfect pieces of fatty salmon on a plate. They wobbled as I gingerly picked it up with my chopsticks. I waited as it melted in my mouth. It was good. So good. But still, unagi silently screamed from across the table.
Then, it all happened so quickly. The man-boy sat up straight, thumped his phone down on the table with Hitler’s determination, and proceeded to jab his chopsticks into a piece. It was like the swiftness of ninjas. I could not bear to watch. He violently dunked that same piece into shoyu sauce (YOU’RE RUINING IT! – I heard demons yell), jammed it into his mouth, wolfed it down in seconds, and without even waiting to swallow, speared at the next piece, and the next, and the next. He was Pol Pot incarnate.
I looked on in horror, mouth agape.
The torture seemed like eons (forty seconds).
A call for the cheque. A chug of tea.
Then, they were gone.
We never had a chance.
I looked at the empty table where unagi once sat as I slurped at my Cha Soba. I genuinely tried to experience its texture. The emptiness bothered me though. It was cold. Maybe it was because I ordered cold noodles. I thought about how he mixed unagi and pickled ginger all in one mouthful. I shuddered. I chewed on lunch slowly, dissatisfied.
Then, I decided.
I reached for the menu.
I looked at the order, looked at the price, mentally calculated what I had in my savings account, and uttered an inaudible c’est la vie! C’EST LA VIE I SAID!
“ No, you’ve had enough. It was a perfect lunch. You could not have asked for anything more.”
I called the waiter.
“ You’ve worked so hard at HiiTs. Don’t ruin it with more rice and calories! People with abs don’t over-order!”
I heard myself say “One stamina Roll please.”
I could still cancel.
The plate came within minutes.
I picked up a piece.
The journey from chopstick to mouth seemed like The Odyssee.
But just like the prose of epics, I came home.
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I was one.
I was whole.
I was complete.
I was unagi.