“A lamb shank for you, sir, and a spaghetti vongole for the lady. Anything else?” The waiter stood by the couple after serving their meals. Having worked at Moza’s for nearly two years, they look like any ordinary couple. Businesspeople, colleagues, even families come to dine here.
Edmund replied, “No, no. That’ll be all. Thank you.”
As soon as the waiter walked away, Katherine’s phone vibrated next to her.
She gave her iPhone a side-eye, not wanting to disrupt her lunch with her husband. Skilfully wrapping the spaghetti around her fork, Katherine flashed a smile at Edmund before bringing the fork to her mouth.
“Hey, Kat, ” Edmund cleared his throat. He noticed the flask in her bag, and the lack of drinks on the table aside from his cup of coffee. He tilted his head. “Are you still doing the detox thing?”
“What detox thing?” She replied, looking up.
“That diet you do with the tea. Matcha, was it?”
Katherine swallowed the mouthful she just took, held her head back and covered her mouth with a napkin to catch any runaways. “No, it isn’t a diet, sweetheart. It’s like a self-medication. For my skin, look.” She lifted her arm to show Edmund the almost-smooth texture of her skin.
Edmund squinted his eyes to get a better look at what his wife was showing him and noticed the colour comparison between her elbow and her forearm. Sure enough, the drier part of the elbow looked to be getting better. And the good news was that it wasn’t getting any redder than it had before.
“That’s good, honey. I’m glad that the tea has helped you. Though…” he began, looking around him. His voice dropped to a whisper, “I don’t think I like it so much. Tastes like sh-”
Katherine picked up her napkin to hit him on the shoulder. “Edmund!” She scolded, laughing.
“‘What? It’s true!”
“It’s not! You’ll grow on it.” She retorted.
“Will. And don’t say things like that at the table.”
The pair smirked at each other, and Edmund cleared his throat. “Um, honey, I hope you know how proud I am of your job opportunity in Japan.” He smiled for added measure.
“Thank you. That means so much to me.”
“Although,” He began. It’s now or never! His brain tugged at him. “Have you already signed something with the client?”
Katherine paused. “Why do you ask?”
“Well, I was just wondering if you really need to go on the trip for a client that isn’t officially yours yet-”
“They are.” Katherine cut him off, looking down at her plate and continued wrapping the spaghetti around her fork. “They have signed with us, and I will be going.” She said sternly.
Her husband sat back, surprised at her uptight response. All he wanted to tell her was how worried he was for her. Sure, she had been on a few other trips before this, but at the very least, those were solid clients. They have been with Green City for a couple of years before Katherine had to fly over to their respective countries for new business.
With this one, it was different. Furthermore, he couldn’t bear the thought of leaving Ken and Sarah with his mother-in-law – she dotes on them too much.
A train of thought began running around in his head as he searched for a solution for the children, and Katherine was, too, in her own world.
Stealing a glance at her phone earlier, she managed to get a glimpse of the sender’s ID.
Katashi must have sent the itinerary already. That was quick! She thought.
She wanted to inform Katashi of her interest to find out more about the process of matcha tea-making in Japan, and how it differs from those in other countries.
Suppose I can wait until after lunch to give him a call, she thought to herself, shoving a spoonful of spaghetti in her mouth.
Katashi tapped lightly on the mousepad of his laptop, and let out a soft sigh before swinging his chair around to face the unmade bed in his hotel room. Working remotely was not an interest of his – he’d much rather prefer his office back in Japan.
It was a place he could call his own.
Behind him, the loading window read “Sending…”.
It was a small file, but the hotel’s WiFi connection was too weak. It didn’t help that the room he got was at the furthest end of the hall.
He stared at the bed, feeling the tiniest bit of pressure being lifted off his shoulders. He knew he could have sent the itinerary for Green City’s trip to Japan to his assistant so he could free up his time here in Singapore for touristy stuff. But he felt that it was his responsibility to see through this trip. He wanted it to go as smoothly as possible.
The loading window finally closed, marking the successful sending of the file. He checked his “Sent” folder just to be sure, and true enough, the email had been delivered to Katherine.
With just 2 days left in the city, Katashi decided that he would leave the comfort of the room and venture the tourist attractions. Over the years, he had heard so much about Singapore, but he never really got the chance to see it. His father had busied him in his younger years, training him so he could manage the company after his father resigns.
As a result, Katashi hadn’t travelled much. But seeing as to how the family’s tea business had the opportunity to grow in Singapore, and eventually, in Southeast Asia, Katashi looked out the windows of his hotel room with a hopeful heart.
This could be something, he thought.
Grabbing his phone off the table, Katashi dislodged the charger and dialled his father, who answered on the first ring. “Hello,” said Akira.
“Hi, Otosan. Where are you?”
“‘I am nearing the hotel, Katashi. Will you join me for dinner? There is something I would like to show you.” came the reply,
Katashi furrowed his brows. What could it possibly be?
He looked at his watch before agreeing to dinner.
Eh. He thought. There’s still time to make changes to the itinerary, as long as he hears back from Katherine by tonight.
“Okay. Tell me where to meet.”
Akira strolled down the streets in Orchard, waiting for his son to arrive. He had invited him for dinner, and Akira had found the perfect restaurant. It wasn’t Japanese or Korean food – he knew Katashi would at least appreciate a different cuisine, especially in Singapore. No, it was a fusion restaurant, combining the flavours of both western and the Middle East.
He was sure that Katashi would appreciate the change in cuisine.
Also, there was a store beside the restaurant where Akira had seen the advertisements online for soaps. It attracted his attention because the soap, albeit expensive and small, contained unique ingredients. He wanted to share the idea with his son, as a means of bonding over the company’s better interests.
Tapping his shoe against the curb by the side of the road, Akira waited for Katashi’s taxi to arrive.
Ding. His phone beeped with a text message.
“I’m here.” It says. Akira looked around.
Katashi remembered the strong smell of nature and tea bushes. Playing hide-and-seek with his father by the bushes used to leave him feeling nauseated whenever he was anywhere near freshly-brewed tea. Now, however, he was able to withstand the sweet aroma.
He smiled, recalling how good of a hider he was, and the many times his father couldn’t find him. He smiled even wider as he approached his father in the streets of Orchard, who had been looking around for him.
“‘Otosan,” He greeted, causing Akira to jump in shock. Realising it was none other than his son, Akira shook his head. “You. You are going to be the death of me one day.”
“No, don’t say that.” Katashi argued playfully. He pointed to the direction in which he saw a Japanese restaurant, and looked to his father for approval. “Are we having dinner there?”
Akira shook his head.
“I want to show you something first. This might be a great idea for our business expansion,” said his father.
“What do you mean?”
Holding his son by the arm, Akira led him to the shops across the street. Above their heads, the shop sign was illuminated by neon lights and street lamps, and the smell of lush soaps overpowered their senses. Katashi was taken aback.
“Soaps??” He asked, surprised.
Akira was leaning over a basket filled with perfectly-wrapped bar soaps, with little bows tied around them. He looked to where Katashi was standing by the main entrance of the shop and called him in, handing him one of the bars.
“This is a rose-scented bar soap. And that is-”
“Lavender, Otosan. These things aren’t special, you know.” Katashi groaned. He’d seen this around before, and had sent them to friends before as Christmas or birthday gifts. They were the simplest kind of gifts anyone could ever give. But it did the trick.
“I know. But we have so many different kinds of teas back home – can you imagine if we begin selling matcha tea soaps?” His father’s eyes glistened with hope.