Dinner after midnight

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I sat on a chair across the band; gulped cold beer from a bottle while waiting for our food. My companion left for the loo. The band began to play. I can see her from the corner of my eye, walking slowly with a basket in her hand. “Would you like to buy some peanuts?” she asked me. I gave a lazy smile and said, “no, thanks”. She sat on the chair opposite us, carefully placed her basket half full of peanuts on the table as she watched the band. She looked like she was 60 or 70 years old but I can never conclude as I only based my assessment from her and my mother’s appearance. She looked much older than my mom who is now in her late 50s.

Our food arrived; we ordered two courses but they were too much for just two people moreso that I eat less. I asked the waitress to give us one extra plate, spoon and fork. I placed food on her plate and gave it to her with a glass of water before we began eating as I didn’t want her to think that we are giving her our leftover. She accepted and thanked me shyly.

I was enjoying my food when I unconsciously threw glance at her and noticed that she seemed hungry. It was 8PM, a bit late for dinner. She must have eaten early before leaving home to sell her peanuts, I thought. “Let’s buy some of her peanuts later”, my companion said after noticing that I was looking at her.

After she ate, she approached us with a smile full of gratitude. She handed us two packs of peanuts. “Allow me to thank you for your graciousness with these peanuts. You know, I normally eat after midnight usually around 1AM when all my peanuts are sold. I would run to the food stalls near the park and ask for a soup which they give for free after midnight. I would then go home to eat my supper of soup and rice.”

We didn’t know what to say. We were hit with a pang but couldn’t show it. Instead, we told her we will buy 10 packs and pay for all of them. She insisted on giving us two packs for free but we refused. We knew that two packs could already buy her a decent meal so we urged her to accept the money. She did, thanked us wholeheartedly and proceeded selling to other customers.

After dinner we dropped by at the apartment, took six pancakes leftover from breakfast and brought it to four students with the peanuts. People say peanuts are food for the brain so the old woman’s peanuts were perfect for the students who were preparing for their exams until after midnight.


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