I confess: I’m a serial killer.
I like them all, big and small, showy or insignificant, luxuriant, full, scented. I see them, imprison them for a while in the house, torture them by immersing them in the water or thirst them for weeks and then one at a time I kill them.
Let’s start from the beginning.
In Shanghai, usually in the afternoon we organize playdates for the kids. From 4 pm to 6 pm the girls go to a friend’s home to play. It is a very pleasant thing to say the truth, the kids do their homework together without too much whining and then make up games before bringing them home exhausted, faded, packed and stuffed in a happy and contented bed. For us, immigrants of the new generation, this becomes an enjoyable cultural exchange.
For example, you can learn about the typical snack of the host’s country of origin: we Italians serve coffee and homemade cakes. In China we all became cooks and professional pastry makers: first of all because we need to kill some free time, second Asian desserts tend to be not good, they are perfect in appearance and tasteless or nauseatingly too sweet.
Korean moms are very generous, in a richly laid table you can find algae, giant crackers that tastes like sweet shrimp chips, the super spicy and garlic kimchi, pear and green melon, sticky sweet and candies.
In the Japanese houses you will find the Onigiri (meatballs or fish fillets, in triangle shapes wrapped in algae leaves), sweet with strange flavors and colors, fresh fruit juices.
Beware if you go to the Indonesians houses, at 4:30 pm they dine, so you will have Satay (meat skewers), Nasi Goren (fried rice with chicken and vegetables) and Gado-Gado (meat or tofu covered with spicy peanut sauce). Everything is delicious so if you ever have an Indonesian snack I would recommend you not to have lunch first. Since you are there, I suggest you stuff your belly and skip the next breakfast and lunch.
Chinese mothers usually don’t cook, so they offer abundant fruit dishes ably sliced by their Ayi (Chinese helper) and sweets stuffed with red bean marmalade. I understand, it looks horrifying to you but it’s exquisite in its strangeness. Then, of course, the inevitable tea: a very small cup of steaming water tossed with pieces of green floating leaves. I’m not a big fan of Chinese tea. Sometimes I find it too delicate, it taste just like hot water, sometimes it is too bitter. Of course it’s unthinkable to “ruin it” with two drops of lemon, a bit of sugar, even cane sugar, or … honey maybe?? …Nothing!
Every time I find myself hypnotized, staring at my floating leaves. I look like a child who doesn’t want to eat a spoonful of spinach. I move them with the spoon to the right side of my cup, then to the left. I need sugar! And I start to fantasize, reading the tea-leaves in the bottom of the cup without being on the bottom of it. I imagine the algae are clouds and I see forms… wow look, a green rabbit!! At the end I have to do it, I close my eyes throw down the tea like it is a cough syrup, an anti-dysentery medicine, a weight-loss cleanse, I shiver and smile.
But do not worry too much about snacks, I’m sure you want to know who I killed. As Master Hannibal Lecter says: ” Clarisse, we want what we see everyday.”
And just as I aim to move foliage with the spoon, to gnaw chicken wings in spicy sauce, to taste strange exotic fruits it happens… I lift my eyes from the plate and I see Her, wonderfully exposed in the brightest corner of the living room, in a beautiful show, in its provocative simple nudity: the plant.
Even knowing that I should be silent, I should resist the impulse, I should dominate the urge, I wonder with a thread of voice choked by the emotion: “what kind of plant is it?”
The answer I don’t even hear it … Anthurium, Spathiphyllum, Sansevieria Trifasciata, I don’t really care, I just know than I want Her!!
But I’m a serious serial killer, not an improvised one, I don’t really want to kill Her, I’d love our story to work, that she would be fine with me, love me as I love her, so I’m taking information, how much light, how much water, in what corner of the house for Feng Shui she has to live, “does she loves dogs and children?”, copper in the soil, phosphorus, granule Advil for the tough moments … I’m ready!!
I take a photo of Her, I would like a selfie but it seems too much, it might become evidence against me, they could catch me. I run to the flower market, an orchard of plants, scented flowers that try to distract me like Sirens with Ulysses. They whisper in my ears: “Pick me! Choose me! Love me!” like Meredith with her Derek.
But nothing can distract me from HER. I spy on my cell phone the photo, run between the orchids, slip between two Ficus Benjamin, overflow a limply Dieffenbachia lying on the ground and undisguised flared with the roots displayed in a shameless exhibition, not worth a look to the cut flowers (already stabbed by others before me) and then I see Her, between a Dracaena and a Philodendron, timid, small, with its large glittering leaves.
45 RMB of pure happiness and fulfillment.
She is sleeping now, curled up in her cell, she has not yet screamed, unaware that she will end up like the others, encased in a black garbage bag.
It’s a pity because she’s really beautiful, but for as long as the Earth has existed, a respected serial killer kills those youngsters and pretty, not the shit ones.