six » the lunch

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“Insomnia is an all-night travel agency with posters advertising faraway places.” – Charles Simic

Walking out of my sociology lecture an hour and a half later, the last thing I wanted to do was visit my parents. As cruel as it sounds, they were some of the most insufferable and overprotective people to ever roam the face of the earth. With constant reminders that I wasn’t doing what they wanted in terms of my choice of career, and the repetitive crooning over Georgia’s many successes, there was almost nothing I would rather not do than see them.

Dragging my reluctant feet towards the curb, my arms full of the books I hadn’t bothered putting back in my bag, I hailed a taxi. Feeling too lazy to walk despite the amount of energy I had obtained from such an undisturbed sleep, I simply collapsed into the grey material of the back seat.

“Viet City on Greenwall Ave. Thanks.” I found myself surprisingly chirpy considering what I was heading to do. Within seconds the driver had wordlessly put the car into drive and we were on our way to the restaurant.

Viet City was a well-known Vietnamese restaurant buried in the center of the city beside two other equally as expensive bistros. It was a common meeting place for esteemed business owners, stockholders and any other important people that roamed the city with briefcases and austere attitudes. It also happened to be the typical place my parents would want to have lunch at.

People born into poverty who slowly climbed the social and monetary ladder of hierarchy, they loved spending their time splurging on small portioned overpriced meals. Which happened to be one of the many reasons I’d refused accepting their money in order to go through university, much to my father’s chagrin. Now I was poor, exhausted and working my arse off but I had promised myself I wouldn’t stoop so low as too use my parent’s money.

After having everything I wanted dumped on my lap my whole life, I’d chosen on my own regard to learn to live life the hard way. Besides, to accept their money would be to admit defeat, and that wasn’t going to happen anytime soon.

Using the time in the cab to my advantage, I put all my books back into my backpack. Knowing my mother would mention something ridiculous to do with her expecting better manners and how ‘rude’ it was to bring a school bag to a ‘family’ lunch, I typically decided to bring it along for the kicks.

Checking my reflection in the rearview mirror and winking at the cab driver when he gave me a judgmental stare, I ran a hand through my hair and slapped my cheeks a couple of times for good measure. With my brown strands sticking up at odd ends I looked disheveled, which was the exact reason my mother used to scold me each time I tried to leave the house with my hair styled as such. Not being able to hold it back, I smirked at the prospect of letting her see me like this. A cheap shirt paired with jeans that hadn’t been washed once in the past week but worn at least four out of the seven days, I was far from the prodigal son she had raised.

As the taxi pulled to a stop, I slung my bag over my shoulder, tossed the driver a tenner and jumped out onto the curb. Before me sat a quaint restaurant packed full of obnoxious wealthy people I’d spent the past year and half trying to escape. It was obvious designed to look as authentic as possible, with bamboo furniture and plants, calligraphy decorating the tables and chairs set in front of the eatery and traditional Vietnamese music trickling out of speakers both within and without the restaurant, it was hard to imagine this as anything but Asian.

Sighing and pulling my bag further up my shoulder, I trekked inside. The place was just as traditional inside as it was out. Paintings that looked to be hundreds of years old were artfully placed on the walls, with each individual booth separated by an intricate bamboo screen, it felt as though I’d walked directly into Vietnam. The only thing out of place was the restrained actions of the customers, chattering quietly in reserved manners, it seemed to be the complete opposite of what I’d imagine an Asian restaurant would really be like.

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