Ten days ago, a virus came through our front door and persisted on staying for over a week. An unwanted guest, definitely. Sam got hit first. Then, Alex. And, finally, Speedy. Because Sam was exhibiting symptoms of dengue, we brought her to the hospital for a blood test. When she tested negative for dengue, we knew it was just a matter of time before she was up and about.
Then, it was Alex’s turn. She got hit the hardest. She was in bed for days, she couldn’t keep her food down and it came to a point when she was too scared to eat anything for fear of having to spew the food out and into the drain anyway. She was exhausted. I kept her hydrated but she still needed to eat. Because she was especially intolerant of oily and salty food, I made a pot of oil-free vegan congee just for her and I did my best to make it aromatic and colorful.
Place all the ingredients, except the scallion, in a pot. Stir in about three cups of water.
Set on the stove, covered, over low heat. Cook until the rice grains are soft and split.
Taste occasionally and add more salt and pepper, as needed. Stir occasionally as well to make sure that nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot.
If the congee appears too thick at any stage, add half a cup of water each time.
Stir in the scallions and let the congee sit, off the heat, for about ten minutes before serving.
For Speedy and myself, I kept the meals simple. It’s no joke caring for a sick child and I didn’t want to tire myself and be the next victim of the virus.
For lunch one day, we had bowls of brown rice, sliced Chinese sausages and fried eggs.
But the virus found Speedy anyway and, on the evening of the day we had the sausage-and-eggs lunch, he fell ill. I tried to give him some of congee I made for Alex but he wanted onion soup. Pander to the sick, I did.
Of course, I was exhausted too after over a week of sickness in the house. But pandering to the sick earned me some good karma, I guess, because I didn’t catch the virus. It’s like I punched the virus non-stop — left and right, and up and down — with my bare fists. Or, perhaps, I had an invisible wand and I built a force field around myself that moved with me wherever I went and whatever I did around the house. Everyone’s been virus-free for a few days and eating normally.