Slowly but sure, the food hall becomes empty; but looking at how locals here running their business; with empty words and marketing as filtered and polished as instagram, I knew it won’t be long.
It was built to cater for the SOHO complex in its surrounding, and in the middle of culinary industry boom just as fast as this town’s mayor; with master degree of urban planning from Berkeley start to re-zone the hillside.
There was also the part of learning, the part of growing up, like Adler said it. A child learn first by mimicking others, and so is this town, fifteen years behind the other town just two hours drive away that tails the capital city not too far beyond and is inching closer there than here.
One news outlet made an article about how a food seller rise from a humble stall on top of the sewer into a brick and mortar diner, everyone will be opening their next sewer top stall, or selling the same menu, or even add a small twist to the name of that successful business and make it theirs.
At one point in the history of this town, maybe two years ago, a country side style restaurant is on trend, so everybody made their food stall in that hall country side style restaurant. The same color theme, the same layout, the same plate, the same menu, similar presentation, all twenty of them.
The same taste too, by the way. Watered down seasoning, with only traces of spices, and a clear wantonness to make as much profit as possible while spending as less as possible.
They call it economic principle, but if a half learned people publish their book, half ass principles are what you get. And people want to look smart on interviews so they cite anything.
Soon the all time favorite food: fried rice, for example, has no different taste than colored white rice with the price of gourmet Yang Chow in five star hotel the size of dim sum saucer. A few carrot cutlets, some two shreds of chicken and bits of scrambled eggs so scrambled I can’t pick it out to set aside for the cats.
Soon people start to look the other way. Soon people choose to walk a few steps to the other restaurant outside. Soon they don’t mind taking a little ride somewhere else. There is always errand boy at hand, and after local Uber-like app customized their business to have their riders buy food across town and deliver it to the front door, winter is coming.
In and out of the season, whether the hall is full, or half empty, or like today when people only come for the free wifi and soap opera on TV, my golden boy will live his day in a small alley between blocks when people let their sewage run into and add garbage they too lazy to care, and at night walking that row of banks from one to the other, sitting, looking straight up, hoping for miracle.
Sometimes, and more often now, I can see him sleeping, rounding himself like the chair he is occupying, sometimes he choose the privacy of one of the bankrupt stalls and sleep underneath its counter.
And when life seems so tough, he would make a round to the corner of the block between the banks and one college, bursting into runs and frantic calling when he sees what he is looking for: me.
Sometimes, when I didn’t realize he was coming, I would disappear in a corner and he would only smell the hint of my shadow but he screamed all over anyway, and I will go back out of wherever I was going to call him, and he will literally drop everything, everything, and come running for his pair of whiskas pouch.
Every now and then, he will bring a friend. Brown tabby, probably his litter mate. An old man white with small yellow patches, black and white male, the king of the block, who made exception and let my golden boy pass his territory, because when he was sick and terrible, my golden boy brought me to see him.
These past few weeks, it’s this brown tabby girl. He would let her sit not so far away, under a charcoal grilled sausage stall, the only one still open. When I am coming he will run to me with his frantic meowing, but he will let the girl get her food first.
Yesterday afternoon, I saw the girl alone. Practicing what she learned, and sit by a couple of teen in love, looking straight up and hoping for her life.
But human teen in love sees nothing but their fatal attraction in front of them and the rest of the world doesn’t matter.
So I came by and clap to get her attention. She looked at me and meow softly. Then she came by.
I sat for a little while after a long, mentally breaking Sunday, and open my bottle of tea as she gobbled down the content of her pouches.
Her face is almost bald now, and it’s full of scabs and drops of blood. She must have been in a scratching frenzy; with all those mange. Had I not spent all my saving for Tabby it must have been her turn, but maybe a week or so will give me time, maybe a month, at most.
I noticed that her undertail was a little bit swollen and her tummy is getting round.
She is just six months old. It’s time for her to blossom into a woman, but its too early for her to be mother. She herself is a kitten.
But cat teen in love wants nothing but to follow their destiny and the rest of the world won’t matter; because there will only be suffering then. The hungry babies, the tough call of the world, watching they die, dragging herself even before she recovered from her pregnancy and motherhood because she needs to make a life, for her, and many more that will soon follow her doom.
When she was done eating I moved all my belongings to another bag and let her slip inside.
She sniffed, turned around, and sit on the bottom of the soft cotton bag sent to me from California.
Maybe there will be just enough time to switch her life line from the impending doom.