Letters by Kenny Mah

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A boy who wanted to go to Peru

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February 7, 2013

Hey you,

There are lamp lights like white-yellow tallow candles illuminating the streets outside. A battered-looking truck passes by slowly, empty of its day’s wares. In the buildings opposite, a couple of floors above, foreign workers change into fresh clothes, their time for rest and play about to begin. Nat King Cole croons, “You’ll never know just how much I miss you” and I smile, knowing it’s true.

I’m sitting at the bar in this small café. My head is resting on the palm of my hand and my elbow on the beaten-up wood of the countertop. The songs are old, the furniture is wood, old wood, and this feeling is old also. That feeling of wishing you were somewhere else or you were someone else, and that feeling of blue because you aren’t.

The girl behind the bar brings me a small bottle made of dark glass. I open it and pour roasted coffee beans onto a dish. She invites me to smell the beans. The aroma is sweet and chocolatey. She tells me the beans are from Peru.

I knew a boy once who wanted to go to Peru, to climb the mountains and discover Machu Picchu. I told him Machu Picchu had been discovered already, years and years ago. He had smiled and told me we could go and discover it all over again.

I pass the dish back to the girl. She grinds the beans into a wooden cup, lets me smell the ground coffee before brewing the coffee in front of my eyes. The heated water rises up the siphon, the bubbles like little globes of joy.

Nat King Cole is singing “Let There Be Love” now and there is a smile on the face of the girl as she takes a deep breath of the coffee she’s brewing for me. I’m smiling too.

I’m thinking of the boy who wanted to go to Peru. I’m thinking of you.

Yours always and always,

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