The Morning Calm

It was getting light out when I woke up snug in my mosquito net canopy. There was no gong sound calling me to breakfast like there had been back in ’97. I didn’t hear anyone up and about. I crawled to the paper door and tried to slide it open as quietly as possible. I poked my head out. I couldn’t see or hear anyone up. The sky was overcast and it appeared and smelled like rain was imminent. I put on my shoes and sat on the edge of the deck. I let my legs dangle down for a moment. It would have been a perfect opportunity to meditate if I were so inclined (I am not).

I figured if I walked over to the bathroom then people would know I was awake and somebody might come out and talk to me. I walked across the dirt courtyard to the outhouse. I snuck a peak into Grandma’s kitchen but not a creature was stirring. I tried to make a little noise as I entered the outhouse, and again as I exited. Still nobody appeared to be up just yet so I went back to my room to have a look around.

The guestroom had a small rabbit-eared TV. I turned it on. Only a couple channels came in clearly enough to see and both were broadcasting regional news. I monkeyed with the antenna and tried some other channels without much luck. I looked around. There was a bookcase piled high with books. A stack of clean clothes stood in one corner. An abalone shell armoire/wardrobe covered nearly one entire wall but I felt odd about opening it. I put my head back down on the pillow and stared blankly at the TV. At least I wasn’t hunkered in the cubesicle at the j o b.

Soon enough Grandma came to the door and yelled for me to come eat rice.

I paused outside the kitchen to wash my hands and hit a mini Saesu--a Korean institution I am 100% on board with. Grandma sat alone on the floor at the little table. I kicked off my shoes, went in and had a seat on the floor. I moved around a bit trying to find a warm spot and finally settled. On the table was served already the standard fare with the same white rice with purple beans from the same batch that was in the rice cooker the night before. I guess that works.

I asked after the Master and she gave me a look like I was supposed to know. She told me they had received a call in the night informing them that a teacher (선생) of the Master's Wife's had been in a car accident and had died. So they packed up on the spot and went up to pay respects. Knowing that the Master's wife is a famous former pop star, I thought this person perhaps was a mentor or singing coach or somebody like that. Plus the fact they left in the middle of the night indicated on its own that the deceased was a significant person in their lives.

Grandma let the news sink for a moment and then let me know they would return in a couple of days and that the Master had said I should remain. Indeed, remain I would.

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