China New China New China New Oldness

1

Somewhere in Centro — just near the city’s glorious public supermarket — is a cafe so old. It cannot hide its true age, despite the occasional reinforcement of paint on the sturdy surface of tables and chairs. The tiles give away the clue.

Even the wide wall mirror reveals the subtle lines. Years of constant cleaning has scratched the face, forming unintentional wrinkles on the skin of those in front.

Notice how the servers hold the glass.

2

The typography remains handwritten despite the rise of print and tarpaulin. Human hands, the style is so imperfect, yet they feel more welcome than the ones smeared with pixels and bad type combination. See, the scribbles on the menu made me order a plate of crunchy lumpia, add some fried rice, and please don’t forget the yellow dip.

Ahj and I would usually contest over the last piece.

[I remember cousin Gilbert and I going to this place after watching The Island of Dr Moreau. We talked about the amazing man-creature designs, gobbling the thick noodles of salty beef mami between discussions

As I grew older I soon found out that the movie (starring Kilmer, Thewlis, and Brando) was a complete failure. Everybody hated it, even the actors]

3

I look over the window, beyond the grills, and see another old building. I can’t remember the name. I feel I’m starting to get so old that names slip past my memory bank. The windows are open, but the dust conceals the everyday stories of people within.

The bowl of steaming lomi has arrived. I remove my eyeglasses. The can of soda sweats madly, leaving a puddle all over the side. A few old men across us are sharing stories, a bottle of Pale Pilsen is resting on someone’s hand. I looked at my wristwatch — three o’six in the afternoon.

I do not know which one is yellow, the glass, or the water.

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