Friday, April 2, 2010
M declared to the world, no more spring rolls, a placard holding those words dangling from his shop door, no explanation given. His four star eatery, his cuisine of culinary envy, the linchpin of many diners’ lives. The favorite—shrimp, covered in basil, mint, cilantro, and fish-lime sauce—gone. It wasn’t just a menu thing; spring rolls were the menu. It wasn’t about restaurants; he insisted he’d be content keeping open a menu-less collection of tables if people still came. I’m done, M told his wife. She begged him to reconsider, even suggested he sell the menu rights to someone else, but he wouldn’t. Why, on her knees, but he had no answer for her. It’s like burning money, you fool, what will we do now. Her last words before storming away. Hungry crowds swelled outside the shop, their questions variations on the wife’s. The inevitable happened—M, coming to the shop late to erase his presence, was taken at gunpoint by masked assailants. In a dark room, they demanded, again and again, why, and reconsider, and he said, I owe you no why, and no, each time, which did not satisfy them, as they kept demanding, their voices and postures turning to murder, as he remained calm, the picture of order.