Sometimes on the way to work, my boyfriend stops the scooter for me to buy my breakfast. A woman sitting on the side of the road sells me com nam – plain rice ball. I remain on the scooter while giving her money in exchange for my breakfast pack. My boyfriend finds the process fascinating. He calls it Vietnamese drive-through, an analogy that tickles me.
Com nam is high in carb but does not last long. Soon I am hungry for more. I normally have my com nam with a mix of roasted sesame and peanut. It has the simplicity of peasant food. A reminder of my childhood when having enough to eat was a struggle. I wonder if it is still a struggle for the woman on the side of the road. She could not have made a lot from the com nam she sold at the next-to-nothing price. Selfishly I want her to be there representing the sweet old days. But I know I won’t be there always to buy from her. I will move on. So will the ones who queue after me in the drive-through. In such time when every few seconds count, we have to keep moving regardless.