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Grandma’s Soup This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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From behind a creaky kitchen door, I watched tiny hands work steadily, despite slight tremors from time to time. I watched the nimble fingers knead dough for many minutes, never tiring or succumbing to the pain of this repetition. The quick and skillful hands took strange, bizarre vegetables and meats and created what seemed to be culinary messes. Exotic and odd in color, texture, and shape, the ingredients were combined with painstaking care and appeared, from my spot just beyond the door, as if they were smushed sloppily together by a three-year-old.

One day, standing in front of the ­ancient stove, with her back to me, she mumbled, “Ni yao si yi dian mah?” Her voice wavered slightly, awaiting my reply. As she turned, her body hunched with age, my eyes focused on the slimy gray vegetable soup in the bamboo cooking utensil she held out to me.

Bu yao. Xie xie,” I responded, sighing with relief that, along with asking where the nearest restroom was, I knew how to refuse an offer.

That vegetable soup showed up at dinner that night, giving off a spicy aroma. After the fragile porcelain rice bowls had been passed out, everyone settled down to eat. Grandpa, with his bald forehead and eyes that seemed so small behind outdated square glasses, stood up and looked around the table – at Mom, Dad, and Grandma. After saying a few words, which he knew I could not understand, he smiled to help me interpret his meaning.

Grandma, a timid woman of few words, started serving that dish that I had eyed suspiciously a few hours earlier. My mom and dad happily accepted it, and then she stopped at me.

“Mom, what do I do?” I squirmed uncomfortably in my chair, feeling the awkwardness of the moment settling in the pit of my stomach.

My mom had no reply. Grandma held out the serving spoon and smiled. Surprised by her small gesture of intimacy, I stared at her face, framed with jet black hair like mine (despite her age), and a slightly upturned nose with a strong bridge, much like the one my dad would poke fun at during my childhood. Her earnest eyes stared into my own as I slowly nodded my head.

Xie xie,” I uttered. She broke into a grin, which I needed no help interpreting, and I tried the dish she had lovingly and painstakingly prepared. Grandma’s soup tasted oddly familiar.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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zee11 said...
Dec. 16, 2011 at 10:07 am:
Love this piece!!! great writing...:)
 
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beautifulspiritThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Dec. 15, 2011 at 8:14 am:
I loved this piece~ it reminds me of when I was little and watching my own grandmother cook and bake in her kitchen. Good use of imagery and sensory detail~ I could just picture the story in my mind as I read it.
 
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terrell J. said...
Sept. 1, 2009 at 3:42 pm:
ii really like your writing it is amazing
 
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