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  • Writer's pictureHina Siddiqui

When it rains... Part II

There was a typhoon warning.

It was expected to make landfall by the evening. There were warnings about high-velocity wind, torrential rain and thunder.

So Nichi had done the clever thing and called in sick.

Now as the day grew gloomier, she was wrapped up in a quilt, curled up on her sofa with a hot mug of tea, re-reading her favourite manga on her tab. The rain was getting loud and the occasional strike of lightning made the whole house flash. But Nichi was warm, dry and comfortable.

So she felt more irked than worried when the tab flashed a notification warning her of an intruder in her front yard. She clicked on it, opening the camera feed from her front door. The image outside was dark, the rain making visibility poor. But the man standing in the rain was clear enough. Especially when an ominous crack of lightning illuminated his pale face and worried green eyes.

She hadn’t seen much of him since the last time he was over. Division 1 was caught up in some big case and the Chief was pressuring them to close it quickly.

But even as Nichi watched, Ginoza approached her door but just blinked at it, before turning away.

Nichi threw off her blanket and tab and rushed to the door, opening it to find Ginoza half-way to her gate.

“Ginoza Kanshikan!” she yelled as she charged in to the freezing rain after him.

This time she managed to grab hold of his arm as he turned. Lightning flashed again, terrifying her and perhaps him. So she wasted no time and high-tailed it back indoors, dragging Ginoza once again behind her.

“Ginoza-san!” she turned on him, angry that she was now wet and cold instead of dry and toasty, “What are you doing?”

Sumimasen,” he said softly, too softly, not meeting her eyes, “It wasn’t my intention to disturb you.”

Nichi folded her arms around her to hold back the heat that was quickly departing her body.

“Why are you here?” she asked, still exasperated by this turn of events.

“I wanted to return… your… clothes…” His words slowed down as he held up the brown package. It was soaked through, coming undone. Just like him.

Nichi sighed.

“Did you walk all the way here?”

“It… didn’t seem that… far.”

But it’s the middle of a freaking storm! She wanted to yell. But that seemed like the wrong move here.

So she simply turned around, stalked to her room and stalked back with the necessaries. Dumping the clothes and toiletries in his arms, after having relieved him of the package, she gestured to the bathroom.

“Well, you know the drill.”

Ginoza turned to go to the bathroom. Nichi rushed to her room, struggling not to shiver as she searched for something warm to wear.

Nichi didn’t listen in on Ginoza this time. Ginoza came out quicker. She hoped he had at least taken the time to let the shower heat up his body. His cheeks were pink. Perhaps that was a good sign?

“So, do you have any opinions on sticky rice?” she asked, as he padded his way to her. After all, the man had gone on for nearly half an hour about soba noodles the last time. Even though he had never cooked them. Or anything. In his life. Ever.

“It depends,” he said with more seriousness than her mocking warranted, “What grain are you using? And how long have you let it soak? Also, the weather may affect- ”

“Okay, get out of my kitchen.”

Again, he seemed to miss the playfulness of her tone.

“Sumimasen Nichi-san,” he responded gravely, “I keep taking advantage of your kindness, don't I?”


“Maybe I should leave,” he said but remained exactly where he was.

“I have a better idea,” Nichi said, weaving her way across the kitchen counter to his side, where she gently took his arm and guided him to the sofa. “Maybe you should sit here and…” here she gently tugged on his arm till he sat down, “just relax? Do you know how to relax?” she changed tact when she saw him take a breath to respond to the question like it wasn’t rhetorical, “Never mind, just sit… watch something on the terebi? A documentary on katsudon perhaps?”

“Well, actually… there is a documentary on Rhodesian Ridgebacks that I have been wanting to see.”

“Rhodesian Ridgebacks?”

“They are large dogs. They were originally bred in Southern Africa, where they were trained by tribals and colonists to track and bay lions. Baying means that they would charge at them and dodge and weave but not attack. In fact, they were trained to never kill lions. Ever.”

Those words came out so quickly and with such uncharacteristic eagerness - definitely more than soba noodle eagerness - that Nichi laughed. Ginoza looked confused and perhaps like he wanted to apologize again.

“I’ve never seen lions, but they sound dangerous,” She retrieved the fallen quilt from the floor and placed it around his shoulders, “So why don’t you start watching and I’ll join you in a bit, Gino-san?” she said and handed the tab to him so he could watch whatever canine fantasy he desired.

“Kagari used to call me that. Gino-san. He used to call me that,” he said, his voice barely a whisper, again.

“The enforcer who went missing?”

Ginoza nodded. “He liked cooking too. Traditional cooking. Like you do.”

“Did you start reading up on food after Kagari went missing?”

He nodded again.

Nichi wanted to reach out and touch him. Squeeze his hands. Or his shoulders. Run her fingers through his hair. Draw circles on his palm. Anything to convey that she understood. But she simply smiled and returned to the kitchen.

She heard the documentary start as she pulled out the eggs.

By the time she was done grilling them, the rice was nearly ready. She went to check on Ginoza and was not surprised at all by the fact that he was fast asleep on the sofa, cocooned in the quilt.

She did touch him this time, laying her palm against his forehead. Sure enough, he seemed warm. But given the lack of tension on his face, she assumed it was just from the rain and nothing serious. She’d ask the med-bot to run a diagnostic once he woke up.

She returned to the kitchen and put the food on keep warm. Then returned and sat by Ginoza’s head. Rhodesian Ridgebacks were beautiful, but not tempting enough.

They could eat and restart the documentary after a nap.

The storms continue in my city and so does this story. Also, I have a special place in my heart for warmth and naps.

Note on the Japanese vocabulary:

Sumimasen: Sorry or Excuse me, a formal form of apology, used with work colleagues or strangers

Terebi: Television. I just wanted it to sound like it was more than that though

Katsudon: Pork cutlet rice bowl. Thanks to Yuri on Ice, that's the first thing I will eat when I go to Japan. I mean just look at it!

Katsudon @ Wako, JR Kyoto Isetan 11F. Photo by spektograf on Flikr

A note on information-dumping and Neurodiversity:

Info-dumping is the pop-culture term that has now become common parlance when describing a person talking about a particular subject for an extended period of time. I'm not sure if it's a particularly kind term.

Very often, neurodiverse people may miss social cues that the topic at hand does not necessarily hold their listener's attention. For them, it's about the opportunity to share information about something they have learned and are excited by. Ginoza talking about soba noodles or Rhodesian Ridgebacks is my attempt at describing this phenomenon.

As someone who often has to invest too much mental energy at reading social cues, I feel anxious when talking about vague subjects that hold my interest. I want to talk about them all the time and it hurts when someone disregards this. So, it felt good to write Nichi's negotiating Ginoza's fact-dropping. She is going to get better at it, I promise.

You might want to read this satirical take on the neurotypical communication: Understanding Neurotypicals by Clare Flourish - a transwoman interested in humanity. Once you read it, you might want to read it again. Then think about it. And then we can have a conversation.

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