The ladies came, loud and boisterous -- rather unbecoming for ladies from the upper
society. I gripped my towel hard and forced a smile as they all trooped into the
For a moment, their eyes laid to rest on my scrawny self before I was
forgotten. Then, they huddled around the miniature bottles that contained
scented oil and broke into rapid conversations amongst
I lowered my eyes. My head was spinning from their incessant chatter. My
empty stomach added to the agony. I had no dinner last night and I had to forgo
breakfast this morning as well.
"I want this!" announced one of them. I looked up and saw her holding a
purplish vial of the most expensive massage oil. I nearly swooned. The cost of
one tiny vial alone could feed my family of four
for a week! I stood rooted to the ground, clearly astounded by her choice.
Immediately, the cashier counter was swarmed by oversized females, clamouring
for the best oils and massage packages. Of course, heated bargaining ensued. I
had to suppress a smile when I saw Ngayem acceding to their requests. Ah! If only
they knew that Ngayem, being a shrewd businesswoman, had already increased the
profit ten-fold before any bargaining had the chance to even start! The ladies
would never know! They were just pleased to have the price reduced to their
hearts' desire. Happy customers meant more money!
Ngayem directed the ladies to the different masseuses. I had the pleasure of
kneading the whale.
I led her to the room where there was soft music playing. I watched with
great interest as she tried to get up on the mattress. It was only on the third
try that she successfully landed herself on the thin mattress that got
effectively squashed under her massive weight.
I opened the vial gingerly. Every drop was precious and this time even more
so, as there was so much to be covered. I had to make sure that I used every
drop carefully. It would not do, if out of carelessness, I found myself running
out of oil and had to then purchase another vial from my own pocket.
The oil was simply heavenly. A lovely concoction of lemon grass, lime, and
other wholesome ingredients, it was a delight to whiff and to hold. I was soon
enjoying myself. It was as if I was having the massage instead.
Up and down! Left and right! My hands worked wonders. I released every knot
in her muscles and thirty minutes into the exercise, she was lulled to sleep. I
kept on. However, even the heavenly scent and
the soothing music could not tame the beast in my stomach.
My stomach began to rumble in protest as I tried to hush it. Then it gave an
audible growl. The lady stirred. I paused; rather embarrassed that she could
have heard my empty pit.
Then, I continued. A few seconds later, there was another loud growl! My eyes
widened as the lady woke up, clearly irritated. Oh dear! I had annoyed her! The
lady turned around and clutched her own stomach.
"Oh dear! I did not know that I was hungry," she smiled. I was stunned. The
lady hastily dressed and rushed out to have some lunch.