How funny that to be able to cure a recurring nostalgia it would mean to run into the White Master’s kitchen. His door is open 24 hours. Tonight I drove into one of his branches.
The White Master is in Malang, with that gigantic M perching on a pole, as if it were a banner to represent a territory, except that White Master’s M is made of hard hollow plastic that glows in the night for everyone to see where his territory is. The gigantic M glows so bright that you do not need to scan the sky to find where it is. Its glowing sign beams in your periphery, like a lighthouse to a vessel. Tonight, I found myself following the light. It’s so yellow it reminds me of that salty fries I used to munch late night at Illustre, after getting bored reading a book at JavaJive. It’s ridiculous that to remind myself of home, I would need the White Master to take me into a trip to memory lane. White Master’s meals aren’t free. So I bought myself fries, fried cream dory, and a cup of iced coffee jelly — just like the old days. Mmmmm, they taste the same wherever I go: Davao, Kuala Lumpur, Denpasar, Singapore, Clark, Manila, Jakarta, Bekasi, Bandung, Surabaya. He is everywhere in my memory. Mmmm, the fish is so crunchy, and I know it’s cream dory, the fish Suhaimi once told me he would never grow tired of eating because back in Kuala Lumpur they’re way expensive compared to what Natasya buys at Bankerohan. I’m amazed because I don’t see anything special with the fish. It tastes bland, like the things these college students talk about inside the Master’s kitchen: their latest heartache, the type of guys they like, and how they struggle writing their thesis’ fourth chapter. But I had to choose fish & fries and iced coffee jelly because they remind me of home. And to be able to do that, I paid the Bahasa-speaking crew 44,000 rupiah. What the fuck, I yelled in my mind, the Master knows the demand curve so much. The Master is well-known here. On Path, Rizky often checks in here, and people would click that heart shaped button to say they liked where here he currently is. It’s as if White Master’s kitchen is far exquisite than Bu Wati’s waroeng. I mean, who else thinks that her gado-gado could beat fish & fries. The blanched greens and carrots which she tosses on a waxy paper seems like Bu Wati is doing an abstract painting. When she’s done tossing the vegetables, she would pour peanut sauce, like a carpenter doing some finishing touches using a varnish. But White Master is the Master. He has more crew than Bu Wati, who could not even open up a branch in Manila, nor send her children to White Master’s kitchen for lunch. And tonight, Bu Wati is sleeping, while the Master is wide awake. What can I do. The White Master wins.