I had the most surreal yet heartwarming experience today.
I’ve been in bed all day with a pounding headache and sore throat, the bug I picked up during the week having settled in nicely and taken my voice away. Reluctantly, I had to drag myself out of bed when the doorbell rang a couple of hours ago, as I knew it was the landlord’s wife bringing the plumber to fix a problem with my water heater.
Shivering and sweating at the same time, I croaked a hello at the door and then sank back on to my bed while they did whatever it was they were doing. The landlord’s wife is a kindly but no-nonsense ajumma, who insists in talking loudly at me every time she sees me, in her very gruff and occasionally frightening voice, despite knowing that I really don’t understand most of what she says. I always come away feeling like I’ve been told off, but not entirely certain why. Anyway, today she chattered away to me while the plumber did his work, and I sat wrapped in a blanket and whispering confused replies until finally, to my relief, they left.
Two hours later, the bell rang again. I only answered the door because I assumed they’d forgotten something, and was mentally cursing them for interrupting my sleep as I threw open the door. I was greeted by the sight of the landlord’s wife and an elderly lady who could have been her mother. One was carrying a plate of kimchi and vegetable side dishes, the other a tray with a big pot of steaming hot soup.
Tteokguk, they said. For your throat.
They pushed past me into my apartment and began bustling around, the old lady settling me into bed again and actually tucking me in (!), and ladling out the delicious, comforting soup as the landlord’s wife went into the kitchen and proceeded to wash the abandoned dishes in the sink. Then, satisfied that I was eating the soup, they left, smiling at my ridiculously feeble, repeated croak of “kamsahamnida” (thank you).
When you’re sick, you really just want to lie in bed and have someone to bring you soup. It’s something you usually have to sacrifice as an adult living on your own… but not with a kindly and determined ajumma or two living upstairs!
I feel better already. :)