There was a ring in his teacup
**Swapping the ‘him’ for ‘her’ because it feels more natural to me!
It’s the warmest things in life that bring you the greatest joy – the sun shining on your face, a hot plate of your favourite food and the steamy embrace of a large mug of tea. Mingxia had all of these, as she sat on the front steps of her porch. The summer sun gently rolled over her fried rice and dumplings as the steam of her matcha slowly rose to join it. The pungent garlic and bitter tea made a fitting combination for today’s sunny yet equally cloudy sky, she thought to herself.
Mingxia was content, happy even. She felt like a true Asian.
Well, not quite.
The dumplings weren’t from some longstanding ancient traditional hand-written recipe of her great great grandmother, freshly steamed and prepared lovingly by her Obachama. But rather, the longstanding Indo-Chino-Japanese takeaway across her road. It wasn’t that Obachama couldn’t make dumplings or didn’t know how to, but she never got the chance to before Mingxia was born. It’s a bit difficult to find dumpling wrapers in the after-life after all.
An Indian manager, a Chinese chef and a Japanese delivery boy kept the place going since 1971, after South and East Asians from previous colonies like India and Hong Kong migrated to the UK (or so her father said, post the usual daily lecture of ‘In My Time Asians Could Barely Survive So You’ve Got It Lucky’). Every year each position was replaced by someone of the same ethnicity; it was sort of like an Asian link chain, a chink, if you will. The takeaway had lovingly been named Asia House and it sort of felt like a house.
Every Friday the place would be full of every type of Asian you could imagine for their special Samosa-Stuffed-Dumpling-Ramen night, or SSDR for short. Mingxia was 6 when she first went for her first SSDR, she remembers because the flyer said it would start at 6pm and that was the same number as her age. But it ended up starting at 8pm.
It was there that she became friends with Yuuto, after they fought over the last mug of free matcha tea. Mingxia cried as much as possible until Yuuto finally gave in, shoved the tea in her face reluctantly and grumpily stormed off. The two had been through many more arguments in their 20 years of friendship, but Mingxia’s tactics had stuck. She sulked. He sighed. He caved. Her smile miraculously returned.
Recently he’d been taking more shifts than he could handle at Asia House. Mingxia took a spoonful of rice and a mouthful tea wondering, why? He’d always been lazy. They hadn’t seen each other much during these summer days and the distance was infururiating.
Mingxia looked up at the sky, the universe, God, whatever, and sulked. Nothing changed. Yuuto didn’t cross the road from the takeaway to her house and come comfort her. Angrily, she gulped down her tea and began to cough. What the heck? It felt like there was a small lump in her throat. She coughed and coughed and coughed and finally –
A mucus covered tiny golden ring with a tiny golden diamond appeared in her palm. She turned it over to find an engraving in perfect cursive:
Mingxia, marry me?