Love/Hate – Chapter 30

Xiao You looked at Xi Men scooping up the porridge and gently blew on it, before feeding it to her.

And then he repeated the acts.

They did not exchange a word.

“Can I request for something?” Xiao You breaks the silence.

“Sure,” Xi Men said. “What is it?” he scooped the porridge.

“I want oyster mee suah (a type of noodles) tomorrow,” Xiao You said.

“Okay. Where can I get it?” Xi Men asked, blowing the porridge.

“Night market,” Xiao You said. “Or stalls by the roadside,” she opened her mouth as Xi Men stuff the spoon in.

“Do you know where the famous one is?” Xi Men asked.

“I want delicious ones instead of famous one,” Xiao You said.

“Then, where?” Xi Men asked.

“If you are a local and you didn’t know, how am I supposed to know?” Xiao You asked.

Xi Men looked at her, and then he lowered down his head as he scoops another spoonful of porridge. “If you asked me about good servings of marvelous fresh oyster and abalone, I can answer you that. But I am still learning about street food in Taiwan,”

“You need to explore,” Xiao You said. “You can’t always have abalone 3 meals a day. Besides, there is so much delicious local food here; you’ll be spoilt for choices. A full meals does not even cost a bomb like you paid for one uncooked abalone,”

“I ate instant noodles in the office sometimes,” Xi Men said.

“What?”

“Because I have to rush my work,” Xi Men said, stuffing another spoonful of porridge into her mouth.

“You really should relax and enjoy what Taipei can offer you,”

“Do you?”

“What?”

“Do you enjoy what Taipei can offer you?”

“Yes. I have always been, since I was a kid. I grew up here, remember?” Xiao You asked. “And that when I went to Canada and UK, I explore there too,”

“Oh,” Xi Men said. “Since you said you grew up here… where is the delicious oyster mee suah that I can get for you?”

Xiao You glared at him. “After questioning and saying so much, you are hitting me back with that reality just because I explored Taipei more than you?”

“Well, I don’t think I am wrong to ask you that, am I?” Xi Men asked.

“I left Taipei long enough to see changes in this country. All my favorite foods are gone and I don’t know where to get them. So it is your responsibility to find out for me,” Xiao You said.

“But…”

“I would go out and get them if I know where,”

“Oh…”

“Go back and research where to get it for me,” Xiao You said.

“You are a very demanding person,” Xi Men said.

“In certain things,” Xiao You said.

“Undeniably,” Xi Men said.

“Especially things that you would do for me,” Xiao You said.

Xi Men looked at her. “What?”

“Yeah,”

“What, you treat me like a slave?”

“Don’t get me wrong. You said you take care of me. I am a patient. I have the privilege to ask for good food,” Xiao You said. “And since you offer to do it, might as well I ask for the best,”

“Great,” Xi Men said, rolling his eyes.

**********

“What?! What makes you think I know that?” Ah Si yelled in the phone.

San Chai looked at Ah Si, and then she looked away.

“No, I don’t know,” Ah Si said, after taking a deep breath. And then he hangs up.

“Who is that?” San Chai asked.

“Xi Men,”

“Why?”

“He asked me where he can get street food… what oyster noodles,” Ah Si frowned.

“Street food? He doesn’t eat street food,” San Chai said.

“Surprisingly he asked,” Ah Si said. “I wonder why he needed that,”

San Chai looked at him, “Is it Xiao You who wanted it?”

Ah Si looked at her, “He didn’t mention, but very likely,”

“What is that food she is looking for again?”

“Oyster mee… something,”

“Oyster mee suah?” San Chai asked.

Ah Si looked at her, “How did you know?”

“That’s one heck of a nice food,” San Chai said.

“Really?” Ah Si asked. “What’s so good about those kind of food anyway? It’s called street food means it is not that…”

“Clean? Don’t be surprised it is cleaner than you thought,”

“Street food means cheap,”

“So? Cheap food does not mean it is not good,” San Chai said. “I guess you’ve forgotten that part of your life that you literally lost your memory and live as a poor man?”

“Hmm…” Ah Si said. “Maybe I should try street food too…”

“You should have let me know that he is looking for street food, I know where to get that,” San Chai said, grabbing her cell phone and dialed Xi Men’s number.

**********

“Oyster what?” Mei Zhuo asked.

Xiao Qiao looked at Mei Zhuo on the phone.

“What the heck is that?” he asked. He frowned, and then he hangs up the call. He scratched his head as he looked at the phone.

“What’s that all about?” Xiao Qiao asked.

“Xi Men called to ask if I know where he can get oyster miso,”

“Oyster miso? What is that?” Xiao Qiao.

“I don’t know. That is why I asked him back what is that,”

“Miso? Miso is a Japanese soup,”

“Miso and oyster does not seem to blend… blergh,” he said.

“Did he say something else?” Xiao Qiao asked.

“Mee… soh?” Mei Zhuo asked.

Xiao Qiao glared at him. “Mee suah is it?!”

“Eh, how you know?”

“Mee suah is a type of noodles. Oyster mee suah is street food,” Xiao Qiao said.

“Street food? Why he needs it?” Mei Zhuo asked.

“Very unlikely it is him,” Xiao Qiao said.

“You mean… Xiao You?”

“He won’t look for something he doesn’t know,” Xiao Qiao laughed.

Mei Zhuo laughed along.

“You can tell him to get from Shihlin night market. He can get all street food from there,”

“Oh, great idea,” Mei Zhuo took his phone out and dialed Xi Men’s phone.

**********

“Oyster mee suah? Never heard of it,” Lei said on the phone. A while later, “Ok, good luck,” he hung up the call. He scratched his head.

“What are you doing?” Jing asked from nowhere.

Lei turned to look at Jing, “Just thinking of something,”

“About?”

“Xi Men called to ask about oyster mee suah, have you heard of it?”

“Oh yes. One of the popular street food in Taipei, what about it?”

“You know it? Do you know where to get it?”

“It’s street food. Means you can get it from the streets,” Jing said.

“Oh?”

“Text him and say from popular night markets,” Jing said.

“Okay,” Lei said.

**********

“What is wrong with Xi Men’s phone, how come I cannot get to him?” San Chai asked.

“If you cannot get to him, just text him,” Ah Si said.

**********

“This is weird. The line is engaged,” Mei Zhuo said. “ARGHHHH, I’ll just text him,”

**********

The next day,

Someone opened the door. Xiao You lowered down the book she is reading and looked at who emerged from the door. Her eyes met Xi Men’s eyes.

“Hi, how are you feeling today?”

“Normal,” she said, looking at the takeaways in his hand.

“I brought you food,” Xi Men said.

“I can see, porridge again, I assume?”

Xi Men smirked. He put the polystyrene down on the table and then he extends one bowl to her.

She looked at him.

“Open the cover and see for yourself,” he smiled.

She remained looking at him weirdly for a while, and then took the bowl from him. She then slowly opened the cover and looked at the content of the bowl as the fragrant smell rose and filled the room. “OYSTER MEE SUAH!”

He smiled at her reaction.

“You managed to get it!” she said happily.

“Yes, I do,” he smiled.

“Thank you!” she said as she leaned forward to give him a hug.

“Oh, oh, the mee suah is going to spill,” he said, when one of her hands is holding it.

“Oops!” she said. “Luckily it didn’t,”

He smiled. Then it came to his mind about her leaning forward to hug him.

She smiled happily as she gets a spoon to scoop it up, and then it hits her about her reaction to him just now.

“It’s hot. Be careful,” he said.

“Sure, thanks,” she said awkwardly, as she refused to meet his gaze at her; with her looking down on the bowl of oyster noodles.

He smiled lightly, and then he reaches for another bowl at the table, that he bought for himself. Nowadays when he buys her food, he would buy another for himself so that he will know if the food he bought is awful or nice in the mouth of Xiao You. So he will know and understand when she complains.

It is complete silence as they focused on their own bowl of noodles.

“Eat with spoon? Not chopstick?” he asked her, when she is just plainly using the spoon to eat.

“This is the traditional way of eating this,” she said.

“Oh,” he said and then scoops up and then into his mouth. “Emm… taste a bit weird,” he frowned.

She looked at him and smiled lightly, “If you are not used to this taste, then it is weird for you,”

“Maybe,” he smiled. “You like this?”

“I love this, and I ate this a lot before I left Taipei,”

“Oh, if that is the case I’ll buy more often,” he said.

“Okay,” she said. “Thanks,”

“No problem,” he said, as he takes another spoonful up and eats it. The more he eats, the more he adapts to the taste. “Hmm… it tastes good now,” he said.

She smiled. “Where do you get this?”

“Like you said, I should look for it. I asked around,” he smiled. “It will be embarrassing if I am a local here and I didn’t know where to get the famous street foods, right?”

“So who and where did you ask?” she asked.

“F4,”

She laughed, “Then they are better than you are in locating street food,”

“Apparently nope,” he said. “Their significant others are the one telling them where to get it,”

“Oh, you are all just the same,” she said.

He laughed, “It doesn’t matter, right, as long as I get it,” he took out his BlackBerry and scroll down his messages. “Here,” he showed her.

‘Oyster mee suah can be obtained in Shihlin market – San Chai’

‘It is not oyster miso! It is mee suah! Xiao Qiao said Shihlin night market – Mei Zhuo’

‘Street food means anywhere on the street! Jing said you can get it easily at night market – Lei’

Xiao You smiled. “Great. So you must have obtained this from the night market,”

“It’s day now. So it is day market,” he smiled.

“Thanks anyway,” she said. “So… you should get back to work,” she noticed his formal wear with a silver tie.

“I have no meetings today so I am fine,” he said.

“Oh,” she said.

It is silence again.

“Err… did the doctor mentioned when you can go home?” Xi Men asked.

“Should be tomorrow,” she said.

“Okay, I’ll talk to the doctor later,”

“Why? I don’t want to extend my stay at the hospital anymore,”

“No, I wanted to ask what would be the best food for you and what you needed at this time being,” Xi Men said.

“Oh,” she said. “So considerate of you,”

He smiled as he concentrates on the bowl of noodles. He didn’t want to reply to that statement for fear of sarcastic remarks from her. It is not easy to have one peaceful conversation with her, so he better cherishes and appreciates it while it happens.


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