The Chinese man kept devouring the food in front of his eyes. The table had an amazing array of exquisitely prepared dishes, ranging from deep fried prawns in a salted egg batter to fluffy pork buns. Looking at the customers around him, he wondered if he ordered too much food. Despite having disgusted glances thrown at him every time he made a slurping noise, he kept going. There was no stopping him from finishing all the food he had on his table.

Today was different. Two bowls of rice with assorted vegetables and meat and he still had an appetite for more. He felt this occurrence was odd. He should be stuffed by now but he didn’t plan to stop for an emergency toilet break and maintained the munching. The paunchy man should be paying for the bill now but no, not right now. He had to finish his food.

“Think about the children in Africa!” his friend’s voice lingered in his mind. Such an overused stereotype, he thought it was.

“Am I entering a late blooming phase of my growth? I hope this means I’m growing taller!” he mused while chewing on tender chicken feet dipped in sweet sauce. He has always wanted to grow taller. Being an Asian, he despised his fate of having the height gene passed down to his generation from his short ancestors. Although the man passed puberty ten years ago, he’s still hopeful about growing a few centimeters taller.

Alas, it is the grand finale one hour after the appetizers. He focuses on the last dish with his eyes riveted on the pumpkin bowl like a bull staring eye-to-eye at the confident matador. Braised pork in pumpkin. Only a few ladles and he’s done.

A few ladles and strained swallows later, the Chinese man achieves a new feat. He wipes the sweat off his forehead with the gravy-stained napkin and beheld the sight of empty bowls and plates…

but one thing still bothered him: he doesn’t feel full. He’s supposed to but he’s not. As the man raises his hand to have the bill brought to him, a waitress materializes beside him.

“Sir, no usual today?” she asked.

“What usual?”

“Sir, you forgot to order your large bowl of herbal soup today!”


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