The other day I made a rice omelette for my father.
Though I live with my parents, I hardly ever help out around the house. I say this knowing full well it’s not something to brag about. So you may be curious as to what prompted me, someone who doesn’t even know how to use a washing machine, to make a rice omelette for someone else.
My mother had to go out of town on business, so for about a week my father and I were on our own. Since my brother had just left to move into his own place, the house suddenly felt empty. I think this might have made my father feel lonely, as time and again he struck up conversations with me. Although a small part of me felt pestered, I couldn’t simply brush him off, so I responded just enough to keep the conversations going.
Having the entire family around the dinner table has been a rare occurrence for quite some time in our house. Everyone in my family works on a different schedule—especially my father, who is often elsewhere in the country or overseas on business trips. With this as the norm, once when we were all together for a meal I quipped about how crowded the table felt. But my father just smiled as he drank his beer and said, “It’s nice to have everyone in one place today.”
Whenever my mother is away, my father always takes on the task of housework. Of course, he helps out with chores all the time, fixing dinner or doing the laundry with a sort of zealous enjoyment. This time I was planning on leaving everything to him as usual, but he was inundated by work, and before I knew it the washing machine was full of dirty clothes. For my chore-loving father to neglect the laundry for so long could only mean that he was immensely busy. It looked like it would be up to me to take care of things.
But first I want to take a bath. I guess I’ll clean the tub and draw the hot water. I’ll also toss in some of my favorite bath powder so I can really relax. Can’t forget the laundry. OK, I’ll do that first and hang it out to dry. I couldn’t reach my mother on her cell phone to ask how to wash the clothes, so I went with whatever looked right. I tidied up a bit, took out the trash, and gave fresh water to the bird we’re keeping. By the time I finished it was dark out. My stomach was growling. Dinner sounds good. But first I’ll take care of this pile of dirty dishes. Glancing inside the fridge, I found an odd assortment. Ah, we might have enough for a rice omelette.
This is when my father came home. I handed him a beer from the refrigerator after his bath. “Hungry?” I felt I should at least ask. He said he was, so instead of my originally planned one rice omelette I switched to making two. With only the bare minimum for ingredients, they were really simple, no-frills omelettes.
While making my father’s I worried that I had made it a little spicy by putting in too much salt and pepper, but I served it anyway. “It might be spicy,” I said, setting the plate before him. But my father complimented the flavor as he wolfed it down. Having finished my father’s, I set to work on my own. The practice from the first meant I did a better job the second time around. It actually turned out rather well. “Not too bad,” I said to myself as I ate beside my father. He had already finished. “It was amazing! It had a punch to it, ” he exclaimed. So it was spicy—you just didn’t say anything, I thought, but I kept quiet.
After dinner I washed the dishes. That day was actually my first time ever to do so much housework. My father looked exhausted, and he fell sound asleep later in the living room. By that time I had exhausted every ounce of charity in me, and I couldn’t summon the strength to put a blanket over him, so I just left him like that. Besides, people don’t normally catch cold in the middle of summer.
The bath I prepared for myself, the bath powder I put in for myself, and the rice omelette I made for myself, somehow ended up being for my father’s enjoyment. The next morning I bet he’ll be happily surprised again when he sees the laundry hung up to dry on the veranda.
Housework sure is tiring. Doing it every day must be tough.
Family sure is important. I wonder how my brother is handling living alone.
At any rate, it was pretty embarrassing when just my father and I were around.