The tale of the La Santa Maria @Elia

As a kid, he often came across an idiom that always put him in deep thought. “Variety is the spice of life.” It was such an absurd phrase. He loved to visit the same old places, eat the tried and tested recipes, sit by the same spot on the dining table and so on… He prided himself on being a safe person. It only meant that he could never go wrong.

So he went back to the restaurant he had been visiting every Sunday since the past 10 years. It had changed names over the years, but it was the only place in Hong Kong that allowed him to sit at the perfect spot, with a view of strangers walking past him. He felt a certain solace in his solitude as he sat there, sipping on his favourite cocktail. All he had to do was come sit there. And he would be served with his regular order.

As he sat there today, something strange happened. He was presented with a cocktail that he had never seen before in his life. It had a red chilli wedged onto the rim. He stared at the waiter in disbelief. “This must be a mistake,” he said.

“This is the La Santa Maria. Complements from that gentleman over there. He says, Happy Diwali.”

He shifted his gaze to the direction that the waiter was pointing at. He felt cheated. He was being forced to try something new. But why?

“Which gentleman?” He asked.

He couldn’t see anyone in plain sight. Until he realised a young man sitting there, giving him a familiar nod.

He took a sip of it and sighed, eyes shut. He couldn’t believe it. He was living his best life. That was his son — a busy man who worked for the biggest financial institution in New York. But since the last 10 years, every day that he spent away from his son, he felt his heart grow insipid of all emotions. He had refused to visit him. And grovelled in self pity every time he thought of him. But today, his son was back from New York after 10 long years. After all, he hadn’t forgotten him.

He felt the spice of life kick in as he clinked his glass against his son’s. But one thing was for sure — La Santa Maria was going to be his new habit… until they met again.

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