“I am beautiful,” I said to myself as I stepped out. It was the first time in a year that I had walked out with a purpose. I was going to office. And I was slowly but surely shaping my life to feel normal again. Staying home for a year was the toughest challenge I had faced in all my life. After working for nine years, one year of complete unemployment can take a toll on anyone… And I was no different. When I felt the sun on my skin, I felt my confidence kick into my veins.
This was the first chapter of my new life — and I was waiting to explore it. Time passed by slowly as I waited at my desk. My mind was a storm of thoughts driving currents through my body. I was hoping for a good boss, helpful colleagues and a whole lot of challenging work. I was hungry for the work and dizzy with happiness.
I couldn’t believe that I would finally have my morning coffee runs, read a short story in my lunch break, pour my heart out on paper and get published — this time in a different country.
But the next thought that struck me was — who would I have lunch with?
I wasn’t the kind to sit by myself and eat at my desk. So I thought of something instead. I smiled at the boy sitting next to me. He was Chinese, freckled and wore thick-framed glasses. He smiled back, an innocent smile. Without waiting for either of us to introduce ourselves, I said, “Whoever gets the first brief today, lunch is on them.”
He looked at me, puzzled. “What’s your name?”
“You’ll find out at lunch.”
He smiled and said, “Black bean tofu for me. Thank you.”
That day, I broke ice with an unknown person in an alien land with a plate of delicious tofu, laced with celery and the thrill of spices.
And I realised, I was going to be okay.