It had rained the previous night. Booming thunder and the incessant pattering of rain kept her company. Naturally, a battle of consciousness ensued. Too terrified to fall into a deep slumber, yet she wasn’t quite awake. No amount of tossing and turning could alleviate the stubborn discomfort that had plagued her, so she eventually decided to get up and go to the kitchen. Groggy and cranky, she hobbled down the stairs, with some difficulty, but that was expected. After a few minutes of desperately trying to find the light switch, the original purpose of coming to the kitchen had been completely forgotten.
The craving came on so sudden and intense that the thought of resisting never even crossed her mind. She could smell the wafting aroma of butter melting on the pan and the characteristic hissing that followed after. It fascinated her how perfectly circular her mother’s pancakes always came out. She could feel the warm rays of light caressing her back as she sunk her teeth into the first one. Her eye slammed shut in delight and slowly opened to find her mother looking at her expectantly. A radiant smile and a nod would suffice, and the rest of the batch was made.
Maria needed a batch of those pancakes with a huge mug of ginger tea, and she needed them badly. Alas, she stood next to the marble counters, staring blankly at her pantry. Filled with all the possible ingredients and kitchenware you could imagine, but funnily enough, none that could make the simple pancakes her mother made years ago. Even though she could remember the ingredients, it was the memory of the technique that failed her. She flicked her wrist and glanced at the time, knowing all too well that it was too early to drop by the coffee shop. She sighed. It wasn’t a sigh of resignation, but rather a realization that she wasn’t going back to her bed; this was going to require some effort.
She laced up her faded aqua converses and zipped up her running jacket. She happened to catch her reflection in the mirror and a small gasp escaped her lips. How long had she worn these two articles of clothing? For a few seconds, she marveled, “The more things change, the more they remain the same,” This time, the realization not only hit her but made crystal clear that the life she chose didn’t leave her chasing dreams. No, the feeling had transformed into an obnoxious reminder that she still lacked. No matter what she did, where she went, who she met, what she bought, something was missing. The pancakes were just the tip of the iceberg.
She descended the steps of her apartment and into the street. In just a few hours it would come alive with pedestrians, motorists, hawkers, and school-going children; people from all walks of life. How lucky she was to experience this brief moment of peace. However, the tranquillity in the air was the last thing on her mind. All Maria wanted to do was run. Where? She wasn’t quite sure. Her family did not live a walking distance away. So she kept running, picking up speed. Flashes of the contagious content smiles donned by her family members clouded her vision. Everything else was a blur. She finally stopped when the scent of pastry and coffee smacked her in the face.
When she stopped outside the café, her eyes landed on the display, bedecked with delicious baked goods of different kinds. It felt like pain, it felt unnatural. The intensity of what she felt completely quelled her cravings. And anyway, she had never wanted pancakes in the first place but the origin of her inadequate feeling had presented itself. As tears welled up in her eyes, she knew she needed to make some calls.
Art Illustration: Andrea Midence