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The emotions of an insomniac

JAPAN | Thursday, 15 May 2014 | Views [188] | Scholarship Entry

I don’t remember the last time I consciously went to bed or switched off the bedroom lights. Sleep was, at first, unplanned and undesirable but eventually, elusive. I learned to manage with two hours of sleep a day. Panicking, self loathing, cursing, staring at the morning sun in disbelief and checking email was the normal course of action every day after waking up. But on those nights, few and far between, when I did get to schedule my sleep and switch off the bedroom lights, I thought of that night. The night I first tried sushi.

She dunked her sushi in the wasabi and popped it in her mouth. The seaweed tasted a little metallic at first as her teeth pierced into it. Then a hundred grains of rice burst onto her tongue. She preferred this peculiarity to the bland okonomiyaki she had had earlier in the day. The sushi was soft and a little mushy, just a lot of variety in the time frame of one bite. The fish tasted like fish, dipped in a sweet sauce. But the overpowering element of the dish was wasabi. By the time her upper and lower jaws touched again, the wasabi had started to take effect. Suddenly, the rice, the fish, the sauce, the seaweed were just textures in her numb mouth. She felt the heat exploding, blowing steam inside of her body, forcing every pore open. She looked like she was trying to exhale furiously but as elegantly as she could. While he watched her eat, it gave him the impression that she was a very ladylike lady.

‘I’m not sure how I feel about this.’ she told him, taking a sip of warm sake.

‘It’s an acquired taste, I guess. And that is not how you acquire it’, he smiled, ‘anyway, what use is an experiment if it doesn’t hurt a little? I’ll show you how it’s eaten.’

He showed her.

‘We don’t use a lot of wasabi because that’s considered to be an insult to the chef.’ He told her while suppressing his volume.
‘It was very kind of you to show me that.’

She popped another piece of sushi in, this time the right way. It tasted infinitely better. She looked at him in disbelief with some sushi still in her mouth. Her eyes were open wide and for the first time that evening, she felt. That was the first suggestion of emotion he traced on her face since the beginning of their meeting.

‘Wow. This is not what I started my meal with.’

In that epiphanic moment, she realized her love for the dish. Her lips twitched to make a little smile.

Tags: 2014 Travel Writing Scholarship - Euro Roadtrip

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