Thursday, December 1, 2022

It’s Too Late for Liempo

By Jhoodles | March 27, 2021

Illustration by Lawra Eco

He came home late that night. The grill outside their dirty kitchen was still set, smoke rising and coals red and bright. It had just been lit, yet it was too late for dinner. Hearing the sink run, he went inside to see what she had been doing.

She stood there, slabs of meat lying flat on the woman’s cutting board. She had been washing the meat’s blood off at the sink and was now patting them dry.

“It’s late,” he said.

“I know it’s late,” she replied.

“What’s that for?” he asked, “Are you still cooking liempo?”

“You forgot,” said the woman. The collar of her shirt clung around her neck, and her apron had stains of ash and soy sauce.

“Forgot what?”

“Naa pay nag-order.”

“Unsa?”

“We had a last order come in,” she replied. She grabbed a couple plastic jars from the corner of the table, and pinching their contents, rubbed the salt and pepper into the cuts of meat.

“Naa napod tay order ganina?”

“Oo.”

“And ni-oo gihapon ka?”

“Oo.”

“Pero,” he started. He grabbed a plastic cup from the dish rack and poured himself some water to drink.

“Pero?” she replied.

“Gabii na kaayo.”

“And?”

She washed her hands and placed the cuts into a bowl filled with soy sauce.

“Gabii na kaayo and mag-luto gihapon ka’g liempo,” he said. 

“Oo. Gabii na kaayo.”

The man placed his cup in the sink, and seeing the bloodied water had pooled at its bottom, he let the water run until the redness had gone.

“Good night,” he said, and he went to bed, not bothering to look at his wife. 

“Good night,” she said. She would not look at him either, and went outside.

But the grill’s smoke was no more, and the coals had gone cold. 

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