Dear all,

Sorry for going silent for so many months. As you must have known I was in the middle of moving countries. We liquidated everything and moved from Dubai to Bangkok. It was exhausting and liberating at the same time. As a result, all my habits and discipline went out of the window for a while. As I took control of this new life, I shut myself off from everyone and everything to help focus on setting up a home from scratch with my cats in this new land where everything is familiar yet different. It is work in progress but at least now I am heading somewhere.

I must admit that I stopped reading, writing & responding to posts on Om Swami and stopped chanting blaming it on lack of time. Which as you all know is a glorious excuse for laziness. I am trying to get back on the wagon one step at a time. Just this morning I went back to my first love – writing. Instead of focusing on big pieces I have decided to write short stories for now and eventually work up my way back to the book I was writing.

Thank you all for commenting on my older posts and checking in on me. This move would not have been palatable had it not been for Swamiji’s blessings and three lovely souls who held my hand by just being there without any expectations.   Devi, Meera Di and Akshay, your love and support has meant the world to me. Even though I did not communicate much with them after the move, I could feel their support and love for me throughout. Swamiji sent these three my way to make sure I was ok! What can say but Thank You!

The first short story is below. Hope you all enjoy.

THE FORTUNE COOKIE

I was born much after.…

Ba’ba and Omma met for the first time at Lucky Jade Garden Dim Sum Restaurant where sweet soda was served in thick glasses that left round marks on the chipped tables. The ancient ceiling fan made a peculiar sound every time it turned, and the hot air remained suspended at the tip of the chopsticks long after the dim sum was picked. The old Burmese teak wood floor danced under the multitude of shoes as people whirled around the scents of fermented soya sauce and cheap Baijiu.

Back then there were no Hawker stalls or noodle factories. Lucky Jade Garden Dim Sum Restaurant was the only place in town where lonely souls could meet over piping hot delicacies to discover a mouthful of life. Omma wore her graduation dress that was hand stitched by Nainai for a month so she could stand out in the group photo. It is different story that the photo was black and white and Omma was practically covered by Po Po Chan who was keen to stand in the first row despite being the tallest in class just because the teacher was her aunt. Ba’ba wore his father’s jacket that was two sizes larger and would only fit him after he joined the military few years later. That magical evening saw two shy strangers sit around a table with their friends glancing at each other over Yum Cha.

Their chopsticks crossed paths when they both dashed towards the last shrimp sui mai. Ba’ba smiled shyly, nodded his head while retrieving his eager chopstick as Omma victoriously devoured the last dumpling with a cheeky smile. I believe an old Yao Lee’s Rose, Rose I love you was playing in the background at that exact moment. 

Their fates were sealed when the fortune cookies finally arrived. The crisp hollow bubble of brown sugar and flour had a deep message trapped within and was a novelty in those days. Omma had heard of the fortune cookie but never seen one. The Japanese had bought them along and now Lucky Jade Garden Dim Sum Restaurant was calling the fortune cookie their own invention much to annoyance of Kurosawa San who had stayed back long after the army was gone because he was married to Ayi Pei Pei. Everyone knew that fortune cookies were not to be taken seriously yet everyone took the message seriously. Superstitious Uncle Yao had changed his house number much to the horror of his wife, after the cookie revealed his lucky number was 4.

Ba’ba and Omma got the last two cookies that remained after their friends had selected theirs. Ba’ba did not believe in fate or astrology. He believed in hard work and discipline. Omma believed in fairy tales and the power of ginseng. They both were not meant to be at this dinner. Ba’ba was dragged by his neighbour to give him a ride on his tractor when his bicycle broke down. Omma was woken up from her slumber by her cousin Juju who was visiting from Shanghai and wanted to see what a restaurant looked like where men and women danced on the wooden floor after eating dim sums. Juju had waited until everyone was sleeping and forced Omma to wear her fancy dress and dragged her through the backdoor.

Ba’ba and Omma’s stars aligned over taro fish, Peking duck and the last remaining dim sum. The fortune cookie was opened by both, and I believe when they finished reading the short message they looked up and smiled. The kind of smile that tells you what is to come or something great is about to happen. That one message made my non-believer Ba’ba believe that the year of the dragon was lucky for him that day onwards, and it eventually taught my Omma how to drive a tractor like a man.

They both had the same message in the cookie,

“If you share your dim sum, then you are in love!”

Pay Anything You Like

Shivani Adalja

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