Food, glorious, food! Stuff your face with food! Stuff it down your throat. You are a pig. You are a self-depreciating pig. Just swallow. Just gobble. Just wolf it all down. You have no shame. You have nothing! You are fat. You are ugly. You are a total failure.
Steady your hand. Reach out for that spoon. Grab hold of it. Hold it tight in your hand. Steady your hand. Dig a spoonful of rice from that bowl. Come on. You can do it. Frederick, put the spoon in your mouth. Now, chew. Chew it to the left. Chew it to the right. Let the rice tumble all round your mouth. Enjoy the process. Steady your hand. Dig another spoonful of rice. Finish the entire bowl of rice. Steady your hand. Get another bowl of rice. And another. And another. And another. Finish bowls after bowls of rice. You can do it. You can be the champion. You can finish all these bowls of rice. Frederick, you can do it. Frederick, stuff you face.
He just sat there eating bowls after bowls of rice. White, plain rice; nothing else. Rice sickened him. He hated it. He detested the fact that he eats so much. It took a lot of effort to eat. Whenever he eats, he feels pain in his stomach but he tolerates it because after a while, happiness overcomes him.
Just that day, his father said that he was stupid.
"Why can't you just be like any other normal person? Why can't you just ace your exams? Why do you have to be a retard? Do you really want me to label you as a retard? You stupid nincompoop! You imbecile! You are a total waste of your parents' money!" Father looked at Frederick. Frederick did not dare to look up. Punch him. Punch his face, Frederick. Steady your hand. Make your hand into a fist. Aim it at his fat nose. With all your strength, punch his nose. Break his nose. You can do it. Come on, I know you can. Frederick looked down even further. Due to his inability to score straight As, Frederick will be denied dinner for a week.
It always happened. Frederick being denied dinner. Father would always finish all the food on the table. Always. Whenever Frederick went to the table, nothing will be left. Only empty dishes waiting for him to wash. It was not an outright denial of food; it was a subtle action – him always finishing everything before his son gets to the table. Since young, Frederick was treated like that. Sometimes, he goes without dinner for a month.
One day, Frederick returned home to an empty one. He had not had dinner for two weeks already. He had only managed to get seventy in an English paper. It was not his fault. He had studied very hard for the test but things like English, you can't just score hundred, can you?
The house was totally silent. Totally empty. The silence was deafening. He was hallucinating. Or rather, he was so hungry he was about to hallucinate. He had never hallucinated before. He had never.
He was just hungry. Very hungry. Hungry like a plant in a desert. Hungry like a live fish in a frying pan. Hungry like a watermelon without water. He was a melon on toothpicks. To keep himself full, he had drunk a lot of water. Water makes one bloated. With a bloated stomach, you don't really feel the hunger, do you? Everything will be forgotten if you are bloated. It was uncomfortable. Walking around with a stomach filled with water. Every step you take, you feel the water swaying in your stomach. There is a mini sea storm happening right in you right here right now.
He was hungry. He had to have food. There was no guarantee that Father would give him food. He was like a dog – at the mercy of Father. If Father felt like it, he would have food. If Father did not feel like it, he would not have food.
You can cook, you know? The rice pot is just there. All you have to do is to put the rice in the rice pot and turn on the electricity. That is all. You can do it. I am sure it is not too difficult. You have seen Father do it so many times already. Wash the rice and turn on the electricity. When the time is right, just scoop the rice up and proceed with eating.
He opened the fridge. There was nothing inside there. Father was way too cunning. He removed everything from the fridge. There was only rice in the entire house. Frederick decided that he better strike while there was no one in the house. He did it fast. He took the rice and put it in the cooking pot. He washed the rice. He turned on the electricity and he sat in front of the cooking pot and waited. When the rice was ready, he stood up and scooped all the rice out of the cooking pot. He realized something. In his haste, he had cooked four bowls of rice. Four full bowls. What do you do with four bowls of rice? You eat them!
The stomach is like a bank. You put a lot of money in. In times of need, you withdraw a little by a little till everything is depleted. Then, you put in more money.
Frederick wolfed down the first bowl of rice. White plain rice. The sticky texture of the rice just as it enters the mouth. The saliva starts to engulf the rice, playing a game of rugby. Rice and saliva pile up on top of each other and become one whole. The rice is no longer sticky. The rice is now nice and soft. The rice can now be swallowed easily. Frederick swallowed mouth after mouth of rice. The first bowl of rice completed, Frederick started work on his second bowl.
Second bowl of rice completed. Frederick felt a little full. Well, he can't waste the rice, can he? Frederick grabbed the third bowl of rice and proceeded with eating. His stomach hurt. It was crazy of him. He should stop. He should not hurt himself.
Frederick, you simply cannot let the food go to waste. You have to finish it. Imagine not having dinner. Imagine getting starved. Frederick, this is the only chance for you to eat. Cherish the chance. Savor the only chance!
Fourth bowl of rice. It was a momentous event. Frederick picked up the fourth bowl and dug in. He opened his mouth and put the rice in. He chewed and chewed and chewed. He swallowed. His stomach hurt. It was painful. It felt like his stomach had been stretched like a rubber band. He continued to eat. Halfway through his fourth bowl, the pain disappeared. Euphoria took over. Bliss overcame him. Endorphin high.
Frederick continued to eat. By the time he finished his fourth bowl of rice he was in perpetual happiness. He was in seventh heaven. Rain fell on the desert plant. A vegetarian saved the live fish. Someone put the water back. He was a giant watermelon on toothpicks.
Frederick discovered that he could find happiness at home. In the clean sterile house, he found happiness. He found love and comfort. Newfound parent. He was loved.
That was the first time Frederick ever stuffed his face.
That was definitely not the last.
Frederick sought shelter in food. Food, glorious, food! People sought refuge in religion, people sought refuge in love, and people sought refuge in family. Frederick sought comfort in food. He hated those painful moments when his stomach was stretched till it almost snaps. He hated them. However, after a moment's time, paradise took over. There were no seventy-seven virgins. There were no peaceful slumbers. All this paradise had was rice. Uncountable rice. Sacks and sacks of rice.
Frederick hated rice.
What a sunny day! What a glorious day! That sun in the sky looked just like the sunny side egg he had that morning. Father felt extremely kind that morning. He woke up in the morning to the smell of fried oil. Extra virgin olive oil – nice!
Frederick walked to the kitchen in anticipation. Woken up by the smell of food. That must be every dying man's dream. Food, glorious, food!