While Sushi Roll was rolling on the rail called “kaiten sushi”, she heard a customer, “Black Sesame Rice, please!” What!? That can’t beee….!
“Ladies and gentlemen,” grinning sheepishly Sushi Roll called. She rolled her hair up. With nori maybe. “Please tell me. Do you think rice should be white?”
Customer A replied, “Just like you! The best in All Southeast Asia!”
Sushi Roll wished she could roll her hair higher. You know why a Japanese lady’s kimono’s collar is slightly pulled down at the back? Now, Sushi Roll being at work, in a uniform, could only make (hopefully) the same effect by rolling her hair up.
Customer B wanted Customer A to know that he, too, knew about rice. “It should be white, and silky on the surface of each grain that rolls in your mouth.”
“Exactly! Exactly!” Sushi Roll almost rolled off from her rail. “Not like some black grain got stuck on the surface!”
Customer D laid his chopsticks down. “Black grain?”
Sushi Roll grew excited. “It’s not only that it doesn’t appear pretty on your plate. It doesn’t feel pleasant in your mouth.”
Customer E joint in. “I can’t imagine such rice like that.”
Like Sushi Roll had prepared the manuscript beforehand, “You can’t?” Sushi Roll rolled her eyes sideways innocently like a schoolgirl.
“Of course not!” exclaimed Customer B. He needed to make it clear that he was the one who knew best about rice. “Food! Ehm. Especially in the world of Japanese cuisine, first starts with appearance. Nobody would think of tasting, once the appearance itself is not appealing.”
Black Sesame Rice had just been placed on her customer’s table. “Hey, Blacky!” Sushi Roll rolled her high heels. Don’t ask me how. “Think for yourself, Blacky! Why nobody would think of tasting you!”
It looks like Sushi Roll was right about black grains stuck on the surface. The surface of Black Sesame Rice’s ears, seemingly so. Instead of answering, “Because I am black.” or “Because you are white.”, Black Sesame Rice replied, “I understand Black Sesame Rice doesn’t roll.”
“Listen! Listen!” Losing her temper, Sushi Roll lost her crafted elegance. “Black Sesame Rice is black, rough, and cannot speak sweetness! I’m not being proud. It’s just a matter of fact about sushi. You can see, I mean, taste, for yourself on my other sushi colleagues."
Customer Z who had just chewed the last grain of Black Sesame Rice from his bowl stood up. “Isn’t the rice itself that speak sweetness? Regardless of seasoning, it would depend on the variety of rice used to serve sushi and sesame rice. Furthermore, that black grain of crushed black sesame seeds actually speak the sweetness."
“Did the sushis hear that? I hope not! Will the customers notice? I have to make sure they will never!” Now Sushi Roll’s head was no longer rolling. It was spinning. “Think up! Quick! Good or evil, my will be done.”
Customer Z by now, on the way back to his apartment, was sitting in his private car feeling contented. "Ah, this weekend I'm not golfing. I'm going to fix my own sushi and I'll mix some black sesame seeds with it. What do you think?" He was asking himself.
Black Sesame Rice, sitting in Customer Z's tummy, couldn't feel less contented. She would never forget what her faraway-yet-near friend, DonBuri, once told her: 観る人は観るから Those who see will see."
Customer Z's driver prayed hard for smooth traffic, because his tummy was begging hard for Nasi Goreng Tektek, a couple blocks away from his master's apartment. Truly happy is he capable of finding QualiTy over mundanity. Aha.
The lights on Kaiten Sushi went off. And then before he rolled the screens down, Master Chef caught a glimpse of tiny silvery drop rolling. He pretended not to notice.
Jakarta April Story 2017