As if it has been here…

Grilled mochi

1.
由起子感到一陣溫熱自股間傾瀉而出。以為是血,卻不覺得痛。隔了布簾,她無法看到自己的下體。直到護士著她站起來,她走到更衣間,用紙巾一擦,無色無臭,她突然意識到,那是羊水。

由起子把紙巾扔在垃圾筒內,幾滴落在地板上,她又再拉一張紙巾,擦了擦,原來保護著孩子的,都被擦得一乾二淨了。她的孩子,還沒有長出手腳,揮不了手,無法好好跟她道別。

2.
烤箱裡昏黃的燈光之下,年糕緩緩的膨脹起來,由起子看著它雪白的表面給熱氣抹上了棕色,隨即關了火,廚房之內瀰漫著焦香。

過年時吃的年糕,本該是棕色的,紅糖的味道,沾著蛋液在平底鍋上煎。但由起子覺得,那是跟家人吃的。混了油香與蛋香的甜味,是回憶裡的味道。近年的農曆年,父母親友總是相約出遠門,但由起子每次都缺席,她寧願跟陽太安靜地在家裡過。欠缺大魚大肉,但有冰箱裡的冷凍食物與無益健康的薯片零食。過年的幾天散漫,是她一年裡最放鬆的日子,她唯一會做的料理,就是沾了蛋液的煎紅糖年糕。不過今年她連紅糖年糕也不煎了,因為上個月,陽太已不在她身邊——或許說,她拒絕了讓陽太再走進她的生活。她隨便在超級市場買了包日式年糕,隨便的烤,隨便的過她孤單的新年。

由起子徒手想取剛烤好的年糕,卻被燙得她立時縮手撫著自己的耳珠。脹起來的年糕在白色的碟子上,像白雲又像白兔,又似是像白兔的雲朵,更像是她前幾天去婦產科醫院時,照見自己肚內胎囊的形狀。

3.
由起子躺在病床上,她第一次打點滴,喉管接著針接著她的手臂,她不斷調節手臂的角度,但不管哪個角度,她都感到手臂刺痛而不自在。還必須躺兩小時,待醫生應附了緊急到來的病患,才能替她做手術。帶來的短篇小說擱在枕邊,電視機的搖控器也在枕邊,但她甚麼也不想讀不想看,她只呆呆地瞪著頭上的白光燈,燈罩之中迷糊的黑點,不知道是塵埃還是飛蟲的屍體。

早上醒來至今,她都沒吃過食物沒喝過水,但她不覺餓也不覺渴,只感到下腹脹痛。孩子白來了世界白走了一趟,揚不了聲,這痛是他給她唯一的,也是最後的打招呼的方式。

4.
兩片年糕,一片沾上醬油,另一片泡了一下熱水,沾了砂糖黃豆粉與砂糖。烤了的年糕像雲,如今像是烏雲。

由起子手執著早些天的超聲波照片,呷著咖啡,猶豫著要否告知陽太。他會為此而感到高興嗎?還是困惑?她不知道,她連自己的感覺也搞不清楚。那個原本已被她推出了生活的人,會否再次到來?她自己又是否願意?


由起子在手機打著短訊,打了幾個字又刪掉,打了幾個字又刪掉。然後她才突然想起,自己早在離開陽太時,就將他所有聯絡方式都清除了。她放下了手機,咬了一口醬油年糕。或許該給陽太傳個電郵吧。想著,她又咬了一口甜的烤年糕。嘴唇上醬油的咸,嘴裡卻是甜的、香的、苦的,她說不清這口年糕是甚麼味道。

由起子注視著超聲波照片,照片內,胎囊是深夜的湖泊,胎兒是一勾倒映在湖上的新月。她沒預想到,月影脆弱,稍一風吹草動,便破碎消失。

5.
「再等五分鐘醫生就會來的了。」由起子輕輕點頭,算是回應了護士。

她躺在手術椅上,左手仍接著點滴,右手則綑著量血壓的機器,雙腳張開掛在架子上,她覺得自己就像一隻青蛙,將要給割開肚皮,取出沒成形的卵,好滿足人類的好奇心。她浴在強烈的白光燈之下,那是湖泊上的陽光嗎?她的身體此時會波光粼粼嗎?陽光好刺眼,她渴望雲朵飄過,遮擋著不合時候的絢爛。

「好了,醫生來了。」由起子又輕輕點頭。麻醉藥生效了,陽光幽暗了,她要睡去了。湖泊、月光、雲朵、無緣的孩子,彷彿來過,彷彿沒有。

1.
Feeling a stream of warmth slithered through from her bottom, Yukiko thought she was bleeding, although she did not sense any pain. She could not see her lower body which was blocked behind a curtain. As the nurse motioned her to stand up, she went to the changing room and wiped her bottom with toilet paper. The fluid was colorless and odorless, she realized it was amniotic fluid.

A few drops of the fluid fell on the ground as Yukiko tossed the toilet paper into the bin. She pulled another piece of toilet paper to clean it up. The fluid that was supposed to protect her child was all wiped clean. Her baby, who has not even grown the limbs, had no hands to wave her goodbye.

2.
Under the dim oven light, the mochi slowly inflated. Seeing its snow-white surface turned golden brown, Yukiko switched off the fire. The whole kitchen was filled with a toasted fragrance.

The new year rice cake should be brown in color with a taste of brown sugar, and pan-fried after dipping in egg wash. To Yukiko, this was a taste to be shared with the family; the fragrance of oil and egg together formed a sweetness that lingered in her memory. In recent years, her parents and other relatives had a habit to travel together during the new year. Yukiko never joined, as she preferred to stay home quietly with Hatuta. Without the festive feast, what came in handy was the frozen food in the freezer and all those unhealthy snacks. The past days were feeble, but those were also the most relaxing days of the year. The only dish she would make was the brown sugar rice cake pan-fried with eggs. However, this year, she even gave up on her only dish, as Hatuta was no longer with her since last month. Perhaps it was her who refused to let Hatuta into her life. She simply grabbed a random pack of Japanese mochi from the supermarket and let the grilled mochi be her company in the lonely new year.

With bare hands, Yukiko wanted to grab the freshly grilled mochi but it was so burning hot that she had to immediately rub her earlobe to cool down her fingers. Placed on a white plate, the inflated mochi looked like a piece of rabbit-shaped cloud, or maybe a cloud-shaped rabbit. It actually most resembled the embryo in her belly that she saw a few days ago at the gynecologist.

3.
Yukiko was lying in bed, having her first ever intravenous injection. The tube was connected to her arm through a needle. She moved to adjust the position of her arm, but no matter how she tried, the needle continued to make her feel uncomfortably painful. As the doctor had an urgent patient to tend to, she had to wait for another two hours for her operation. There’s a novella she brought along lying by her pillow, next to it was the tv remote, but none of them interested her. All she did was staring at the overhead bright white light, wondering if the blurry spot in the lamp shape was dust or the dead bodies of insects.

She hadn’t had any food or drink ever since waking up in the morning. However, she didn’t feel hungry or thirsty; all she felt was pain in her lower abdomen. Her child paid a worthless visit to the world — not being able to speak, this pain was its only, and its last message to bid her farewell.

4.
For the two pieces of mochi, she had one with soy sauce, and cooked the other one in hot water and ate with bean flour and sugar. The grilled mochi looked like a cloud, and now it had turned into a rain cloud.

Yukiko picked up the ultrasound she got a few days ago. She took a sip of her coffee, hesitating if she should tell Hatuta. Would he be happy? Or would he be confused? She had no idea, she couldn’t even figure out her own feeling. She wanted him out of her life, would he come back for her? Or, did she want him back?

Yukiko was trying to draft an SMS, but she kept deleting the text she typed. All of a sudden, she remembered she had already deleted all of Hatuta’s contact upon his departure. She put down her phone and had a bite of the soy sauce mochi. Perhaps she could send Hatuta an email. Giving the idea a little thought, she then had a bite of the grilled sweet mochi. The saltiness of soy sauce stayed on lips, but in her mouth, it was a mix of sweetness, fragrance, and bitterness; she couldn’t distinguish how the mochi actually tasted.

Yukiko stared at the ultrasound picture. In the picture, the gestational sac appeared as a lake in late night, the embryo was the shadow of the new moon reflected on the lake. She never imagined how fragile the shadow of the moon was, even the slightest wind could blow it apart.

5.
“The doctor will be with you in five minutes.” Yukiko nodded to the nurse’s words.

She was lying on an operation chair; her left hand was still getting the intravenous injection, her right hand was connected to the blood pressure monitor, while her wide-opened legs were hung on some racks. She found herself a frog waiting to be dissected to extract from her a yet to be matured egg, merely to satisfy the human curiosity. Bathing in the vivid bright white light, she wondered if that was the sun shining on the lake. Would her body glitter like the surface of the lake? The sunshine was so bright that she wished there would be a cloud to shade her from the untimely illumination.

“Alright, the doctor is here.” Yukiko gently nodded again. The anesthetic came into effect; the sunshine had got dimmer, she was falling asleep. The lake, the moon, the cloud, and her ill-fated child… they all seemed to be once there, but they all seemed to be never there.

*

烤年糕兩款

材料:
日式年糕兩塊、橄欖油少許

調味料:
A. 醬油少許、紫菜一片
B. 砂糖一茶匙、黃豆粉一茶匙、碎芝蔴兩茶匙

做法:
1. 烤箱預熱至200度;
2. 在錫紙上塗點橄欖油,放上年糕;
3. 烤兩分鐘左右,至年糕脹起,表面呈金黃色;
4. 其中一塊抺上醬油,再用紫菜包著;
5. 另一塊稍為泡在溫水裡,撈起;
6. 混合調味料 B,平均沾在 (5) 之上。完成。

Two styles of baked mochi

Ingredients:
2 pieces of mochi, some olive oil

Seasoning:
A: Some soy sauce, 1 sheet of seaweed
B: 1 tsp of sugar, 1 tsp of bean flour, 2 tsp of crushed sesame

Steps:
Preheat to 200º.
Brush olive oil on aluminum foil and place mochi on top.
Bake for around 2 minutes until the mochi inflates and turns golden brown.
Brush soy sauce onto one mochi and wrap it with seaweed.
Briefly soak the other piece in warm water and take out.
Mix the seasoning B and evenly apply the mixture onto the mochi from step 5. Ready to serve.

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