SatJaDham Presents....
"Mango Pie"
by Alisak Sanavongsay

One nice April afternoon, a couple of years ago, my girlfriend at the time called me on the phone just as I walked through the door. I had just come home from work. I was pretty tired. But hearing her voice really perked me up. "Tuy, come over to my place," she said. "I cooked something special for you. My family is away." Well, what else could I say? "Let me freshen up a little," I told her. "I'll be there in 30 minutes."

Fifteen minutes later, I was at her door. Just as I was about to ring the doorbell, I realized that I didn't bring anything for her. I was so anxious to see her that I just rushed right over. So, I got back into my car and headed for the flower store.

On the way there, I saw some of the most beautiful roses in front of a house two blocks from hers. The way they moved in the wind reminded me of when Toy and I spent the whole day hoola-hooping in my backyard. At that moment, I just knew I had to have those roses. Fortunately for me, the owner of the roses was outside watering them. Without a second thought, I pulled into her driveway and asked to buy some of her roses. She just smiled and asked, "Aren't you Toy's boyfriend?" I smiled back at her and replied, "Yes." If I weren't so dark, the lady would have seen that I was blushing. I told her that I was having dinner with Toy this evening and wanted to get some roses for her. Tears were running down her cheeks as she clipped twelve roses and handed them to me. "You are one lucky man," she said. I just smiled and nodded. I tried to give her some money for the roses, but she wouldn't accept it.

I thanked the lady and headed back to Toy's house. I was trying to figure out why that lady was crying, but couldn't think of anything. The only thing I could think of was an allergy or something like that.

Like in the movies, I held the roses behind my back and rang the doorbell. I always enjoy her reactions when I bring her something, but this time she didn't even see what I brought her. She opened the door and before I could give her the roses, she threw her arms around me and gave me the most breathtaking kiss I'd ever experienced. I was thinking to myself, "Hmmm... I should have rung that bell when I was here fifteen minutes ago."

Almost ten minutes had passed before I got the chance to show her the roses. I only had two left in my hands. The other ten must have fell from my hands while she was greeting me. She laughed and helped me pick up the roses. She took a really good look at the roses and said, "Oh thank you! These roses are so beautiful! They are very rare. The only place I've seen roses like these are in my aunt's garden. She lives down the street. Do you remember her? I introduced you to her last year at my sister's wedding." I told her that I got the roses from the lady down the street, but didn't realize that was her aunt. We just got a big laugh out of it and went inside.

"I think the food is getting cold," she said as we walked towards the dining room. I asked her what she cooked but she told me to guess. I guessed every single food. She made all my favorite foods, especially "tam mark hung," the almighty papaya salad. She knew that I loved basil, so she used as much as sanely possible. We ate and talked and talked and ate. One thing I liked about her was that she was very enjoyable to have dinner with because she ate as much as I do. Everything was perfect, but the best was yet to come.

She got up from the table and headed for the kitchen. "You ready for dessert?" she asked. And I answered, "Ao ma leui. Bring it on!" She brought out a pie fresh from the oven. It had a very familiar smell, but I couldn't figure out what it was. "It's a mango pie," she told me. "I was going to make apple pie, but I found some mangoes on top of the fridge and decided to use them instead." It was delicious, and I made sure she knew it.

As we ate the mango pie, I asked her where her family went. She was quiet for awhile. Then she started to cry. That was when she gave me her farewell: "They are at our new house, Tuy. My dad got a job in France, so we all have to move there. I don't know when I will see you again after tonight. I promise I will keep in touch."

I don't remember much else of what she said. Everything just became a blur. That was the last time I heard from or saw her. Now, all I have are memories of us and that mysterious mango pie stain on the shirt I wore that night. I still don't know how that stain got there. I guess I will never know until I find her...