03 July 2009

Belachan and a Bombshell

Just Onions, William Merritt Chase, 1912
I love belachan. A little dab gives the simplest dishes a lift, like a slice of salacious gossip can lift a dull day at the office. Belachan tastes densely complex: Mostly, it tastes of sea, and earth, and the hottest sunshine, and decay. It tastes of life itself.
So there we were, just the three of us, eating dinner one day when it was beginning to be cool. The French doors were open to the night, and M and MC were sitting side by side, under the slightly swaying bare bulb, behaving like an old married couple, as usual. M was stroking one of their five cats, and MC was scrolling through his Blackberry, somewhat slack-jawed. In fact, they were an old married couple, their seven years together is equivalent to 20, in heterosexual years. They had done eating, as they were hungry and ate speedily habitually. I was still slathering a bit of omelette with belachan. M was telling me about their recent trip to a resort in Phuket to witness a gay wedding, and we were talking about the resort that I too had visited, but years ago. Then M dropped the bombshell:
"We've broken off, you know."
Quite casually, as if he was picking his teeth, or talking about his brother's terrible baking.
"Didn't the sisters tell you? I thought you knew."
MC was looking at me, smiling, at my Oh My God look. Not saying a thing.
"Shall we have desert?" M said, now stroking MC's forearm, "I feel like chendol."

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