Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Reikoku Part 5

Never mind, Kouma didn't kill me. Not yet, at least. She said she would when Ryo wasn't around, but not right now. I hope she forgets it. No, that’s being too optimistic; Yon-chan doesn’t seem to be the kind of person who forgives or forgets anything. I’m most likely doomed.

The three of us are sitting at the kitchen bar. Once the misunderstanding was explained (with much effort, I must add), Kouma revealed the contents of the paper bag she had been carrying around. Fortunately for me, it wasn't a machete or a halberd. I guess it would be a hard task to hide a machete or a halberd inside a common paper bag. Not impossible for someone with a good imagination, but quite hard for a common person. Not that I think that there's anything common with Kouma Yon.

Still.

The thing she took out of the paper bag was something fish-shaped and apparently baked. Despite its odd look, I could smell something easily recognizable to me: red bean paste. My olfactory memory is much better than my visual memory, and even if it has been a long time since I last visited Japan, the same doesn't apply to the rest of Asia. I'm not sure if it is because of the smell, but this fish-cake thing seems really familiar to me.

I pick one of them.

"What is the name of this thing?” My Japanese speaking skills are not that bad, but some words still fail me every now and then. “I can't remember."

"So you really have spent a while outside Japan, huh?" Kouma says without much interest.

Ryo looks at me, serene as the sky.

"This is a Taiyaki. It's a cake and it's delicious. Go on, try it."

I take a big bite.

"Oh, I was right about the filling!" It seems my nose didn't fool me. "This surely is chi xiao dou."

"Chi what?" The serenity in Ryo's face fades to curiosity.

"Chi xiao dou. It's the Chinese name for the annual plant azuki bean, also known as Vigna angularis or Phaseolus angularis. Widely grown throughout East Asia and the Himalayas. Is a member of the Fabaceae family and has Faboideae as subfamily." She suddenly became aware of the fact that she was the center of attention. "What are you staring at? It's not like you have the right to get all the good lines. Besides, my grandmother is Chinese."

Surreal.

That is the only word I can use to describe this kind of situation. Sometimes everyone is so odd and the scenario feels so dreamlike it's hard to believe that this is not fiction. And it could be; this could all be a dream, even someone else's dream. I could probably take some time to consider the theory known as Anti-Realism, but right now I happen to have something else in my mind.

And it must have shown on my face, because Ryo started to stare at me.

"What is wrong, Shin-tsu? You seem a little disturbed."

"It's just that, well... Kouma-san has known you for a long time. That classifies her as a 'childhood friend', right?"

"Yes, it does," said Ryo, curiously.

"And she loves Taiyaki."

"Yes, I do," said Kouma, awkwardly.

"And she is helping me unpack."

Kouma raised a fist.

"And what is that supposed to mean?"

I can only conclude this with a question.

"Did you really pay for that Taiyaki or did you just run with it?"

Ryo suddenly started laughing so hard I thought she was having a heart attack. No, maybe a soap opera dramatic heart attack. Real life heart attacks are not like that at all. Anyway, I wasn't the only one surprised by her reaction: Kouma also seemed completely dazed, which is indeed something rare. Ryo kept laughing for a while and it looked like she would never stop, but eventually she got tired and her laughter started to die down.

"Ha-ha, oh wow! I laughed so hard I actually cried..." She started to wipe away the tears. "My, I wasn't expecting a game reference from you..."

I was going to interrupt her and say I wasn't sure of what she meant, but I guess it would end up being at least another half an hour wasted, and right now we can't afford it.

So after eating and drinking tea, we resumed working.

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