“One by one”

“One winter night, you came home and your children had suddenly grown up.  Everyone was sleeping huddled together because it was so cold outside.  Your wife took the rice bowl she had left in the warmest part of the room and put a small table draped with a cloth in front of you.  There was a snowstorm that night.  Your wife roasted seaweed on the brazier.  The nutty smell of perilla oil woke your children one by one, and they crowded around you.  You wrapped some rice with seaweed and put it in each child’s mouth.  You put some in your eldest son’s and your second son’s and your eldest daughter’s mouths.  Even before you got to your younger daughter or the baby, Hyong-chol was already waiting for more.  It took you longer to prepare the rice than it took your children to eat it.  You grew frightened of your children’s appetites.  You wondered what to do with all of them.  That was when you decided that you needed to forget about the outside world, that you couldn’t leave this house again.”

–Kyung-sook Shin, Please Look After Mom

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