Tue, 27 Dec 2011 15:02:40 +0000

It's morning; I'm making rice. I tip-toe past my sleeping brother and try, as quietly as possible, to pour the kernels into the rice cooker. When the rice kernels hit the metal pot, it disturbs my brother's sleep, but not enough to wake him.

Once he settles, I delicately pour in the right amount of water — plus a little more, which makes the rice softer — and press the "cook" button. Within 10 minutes, a soft aroma hugs the apartment, all while flirting with my brother's threshold of waking.

My whole life, someone else has made the rice, whether it was my parents or my grandparents. I was the one sleeping — the one hearing the rice hitting the pot and trying to stay asleep. To wake up to that familiar smell was comforting. But now it's just me, tip-toeing through the solitude of early morning to prepare daily sustenance. The sounds and smells of cooking rice are no longer comforting; the thick aroma, instead, urges me out into the cold after stuffing me with its starches.