Friday, 11 December 2009

Aunt Kimchi’s Best Friend

I was walking back home from the bus station with a full set of groceries. My backpack was bursting out of its newly-repaired seams, and I had two more heavyweight bags in each hand. Plus, I was wearing high-heeled boots. All I wanted to do was to get home.

On the same road that I had met Aunt Kimchi (ref. Aunt Kimchi’s Kimchi), I bumped into our 150-year old neighbour (Aunt Kimchi’s best friend), who was pushing her walker at a slow, turtle-like pace. I went on to say hello, and she smiled back and bowed.

I was nearing the end of my driveway, so close to home, when I sensed our neighbour slowing in her steps, and shuffling around towards my direction.

Agashee!” she yelled.

Neh?” I answered back.

“Where do you live?” she asked.

I pointed toward my house.

“Do you live there alone? You shouldn’t live there alone. Why are you living in such a big house? What are you doing here? Where do you work? Do you have a husband? Do you and your husband have a child? Where do you live? Do you live there alone?…”

Her questions were cycling over and over, and all I wanted to reply was “There…no…no I don’t…I don’t…I’m an English teacher…no…no…over there…no…” I sighed. I had too many groceries. I was too tired. I couldn’t take very much more of this.

“…I’m sorry, but I have to catch the bus,” I lied.

“Where?” she demanded.

“…to Hyeonseo.”

“You know, I’m your neighbour and I haven’t seen your house yet,” she stated.

Oh no. This was a forced invitation. She wanted to see my house.

“I really have to go…to catch the bus…to Hyeonseo.” I repeated.

“You have to drop off those bags, don’t you?” she questioned.

I’m such a horrible liar. I couldn’t think of anything to say back to her.

So, she shooed me along with her hand towards the house. Once at the front door, I looked back at her, almost sulking with a puppy-dog like face. In my mind I pleaded to be alone, but she persisted.

She entered right into our home, took off her foot-warmers, and walked around every inch of the house.

“Why is this house so empty?” she asked.

“I’m only in Korea for one year.” I answered.

“Are you living alone?”

“No, I’m living with someone else.”

“Do you have a baby?”

Jeez, this was getting ridiculous. I repeated, “I have to catch the bus” and she simply pulled up one of the table’s chairs and went on talking and talking…and talking…I couldn’t understand parts of her dialect, and she was getting frustrated at me for not understanding her. My words “I’m a Gyopo (a second generation Korean)” didn’t mean anything to her. I’ll admit, I was playing dumb half the time I was with her.

Finally, she seemed satisfied that I had shown her the place, but looked suspicious when I took my time to put down my bags (the groceries had been hanging off of my hands and back the entire time she’d been in the house). “Aren’t you going to Hyeonseo?” she asked once again.

“I…I have to take a shower.” I replied, hesitantly.

She left with a look on her face that bore down into my soul. She probably knew that I was lying.

I wouldn’t be surprised if she waited all day for me to head out to the bus stop.

- Jess


  1. Are you telling us the truth that your neighbour is 150 years old?.. lol

  2. No, she's WAY younger than that!
    I'd say she's closer to 130 ...

  3. You're a terrible liar Jess, but I can sympathize with you! It seems that the two of you have had to wear your "polite hats" more than the average person and that must be tough...Yup- maybe when we're 130 yrs old we'll be similar to her...