“Paint the picture again?”
When the owner asked Jinho shook his head seriously.
“Yes. Of course, considering the original painter’s dedication, or the sentiment of owner who put the painting on the store, this is a really rude question but…”
“Sure. Take it. Go ahead and try painting it again.”
“Eh? Is it okay?”
As Jinho asked to make sure, the owner scratched his face and carefreely answered.
“In the first place I didn’t bought it. Eh, a friend bought it as a present for me at some charity event but… if you draw it again it’ll look better, right?
“Ah, yes. I can’t guarantee it but I’ll try my best…”
“Then it’s good. Take it and try painting it again.”
Because he got the permission so easily, Jinho awkwardly smiled and carefully took the painting down from the wall. The bits of dusts on the painting rose up into the air, but the owner didn’t seem too worried. Although Jinho said he’ll come with the finished painting the next time he comes, the owner said not to worry and told him to take as much time as he need.
Going out to buy bread and somehow coming home with a painting, Jinho calmed his breath.
After cleaning off the dust, Jinho put the painting on an easel and placed his hand on his chin.
‘Why did I say that…’
To suddenly say he wants to redraw another’s painting; Jinho said something he wouldn’t even dream about if it was his usual self.
‘But that sensation… some kind of intense feeling kept bothering me.’
And this feeling was still nagging at his nerves.
Looking at the painting on the easel, Jinho put the newly bought bread into his mouth and scratched the back of his head. If one eats bread it just had to go with milk, but the milk in Jinho’s fridge was at least two weeks past the expiration date. Drinking tap water from a cup instead, Jinho scratched at his forehead as he ate the bread.
And then, his hand naturally slid down and cover his left eye.
At a foreign sensation that suddenly hit him, Jinho panicked. And as Jinho scrambled to take the hand off his forehead, the sensation quickly disappeared. Wondering what the hell happened, Jinho put down the cup and opened his hands to take a look. Then slowly, he raised a hand and covered his left eye.
Jinho exclaimed in awe as the sensation hit him again.
When looking at the picture with only the right eye, the painting started to shine here and there as if to show him where the expression was falling short and how to fix and improve the part. At this strange, never before felt experience, Jinho almost forgot to breath and followed the light to examine the painting.
After taking in the painting for a while with only his right eye, Jinho lowered his left hand and raised his right hand, this time looking at the painting with only his left eye.
A different sensation arose, and Jinho trembled in shock.
[Flowers blossoming in their full glory and a vast plain. This place that tickles my nose enchanted me, and so I sat here and began to draw. As I sat down comfortably onto the lush field and hold the brush…]
‘The painting is talking to me?’
Looking with the left eye, this time the painting whispered into Jinho’s ears the painter’s story when the painting was made. Listening to the sound that seemingly echoed through his heart, Jinho slowly took his hand off the eye. He looked at the painting with both eyes once again, and the whispering voice naturally disappeared.
Looking back and forth between his two hands and the painting with a face full of confusion, Jinho sat down and closed his eyes. And after closing his eyes for a while, Jinho slowly calmed his breathing down and, with a determined expression, reached out for his brush.
The bakery owner, who was slowly getting ready to close the store as the time reached eight, looked toward the door. Seeing the familiar face of Jinho opening the door, the owner grinned.
“Again? Did you came to buy bread for dinner? I told you before, but if you keep eating bread when you’re young…”
“It’s not that, ahjussi. I came to return the painting from the morning.”
“Return the painting? There’s no way you could’ve repainted it already… Well, put it where it was before.”
The owner thought that Jinho gave up and came to return the painting. Since he hadn’t had any expectations from the start, the owner indifferently turned his back to Jinho and prepared to close the store again. But Jinho’s next words contradicted the owner’s expectation.
“No, I finished the painting. I wanted to hear owner ahjussi’s opinion before putting up the picture, so I came to find you. I apologize for showing up so suddenly when you’re getting ready to close. I just couldn’t wait until tomorrow so…”
“Un? What’s that? You’ve finished?”
As he placed the tools into storage, the owner face suddenly became shocked and turned to Jinho. Looking at Jinho’s eyes full of confidence, it didn’t feel like he was lying. Scratching his chin in thought, the owner pointed at an empty table in front of him.
“Well then, let’s see it on there. To finish so quickly, do you perhaps do art?”
“For now, I am hoping to enter an art college. Just a moment.”
Opening his backpack, Jinho carefully took the painting out. Cautiously holding the picture with two hands, Jinho slowly put the painting on the table and took few steps back. The owner stood next to Jinho and looked over the picture,
And opened his eyes in surprise.
“Is this really the painting from before?”
“Yes. It’s the same one that was on the frame. Of course, it does look new after dusting off and wiping it with a towel…”
“I’m not surprised just because of that.”
The owner rubbed his eyes and continued to exclaim.
“Although I simply bake bread everyday for a living, even I have a bit of artistic sense. Isn’t this at a point where you can’t tell it’s the same painting that hung from my store? Unlike before, every little details to the colors on the flowers feels different and alive.”
As he said that, the owner grabbed the frame with both hands and slowly lifted it up. As if to look even a bit more carefully, the owner brought his eyes close to the picture and endlessly exclaimed. Watching from the side, Jinho felt rather proud of himself. Of course the painting wasn’t completely his own work, but knowing that there was someone who liked the work newly made by his own hands so much, he felt happy.
The owner, who for a while was completely absorbed admiring the painting, turned his head slightly to Jinho and asked.
“It feels like I should give you money or something. Since I got such a good painting.”
“It’s okay. In the first place it was ahjussi’s painting, so why would I get money?”
“No, but I still need to give you something as compensation. Didn’t you spent all day to redraw the picture as well? Ah, right. Did you eat dinner yet? Let me invite you for a meal. Conveniently, there’s an empty seat at the dinner table, so it’ll be good if you were to fill it.”
“Would that be okay?”
Of all things, Jinho’s mouth watered at the mention of food. After all, the twenty four year old Jinho was a famished art college applicant. The store owner happily nodded at Jinho’s question, and after exiting the store together and locking the door, led Jinho to his home.
While walking down the road, the two exchanged their names. The two, who simply called each other owner ahjussi and young man until now, learned each other’s name for the first time.
The owner of the bakery was called Laurong Li. As Jinho predicted, he was an immigrant from China.
Laurong’s house, where he’d stayed for over twenty years ever since he came to the US, was about ten minute’s walk from the store. Walking up to an entrance of one of many houses crammed together like the stones on a Go board, Laurong opened the door for Jinho.
“If you’re home, you are already home, no need to announce it. The food’s getting cold because you’re late.”
As Laurong shouted and went inside the building, a middle-aged woman’s words blared from what might be a kitchen. Instead of speaking in English, she spoke in Chinese which Jinho couldn’t understand. Changing from speaking english to chinese, Laurong led Jinho to the kitchen.
“I was late because I was bringing along a guest.”
“Guest? You mean that man behind you? Haven’t seen his face before.”
“Un, he’s a regular at the bakery. He’s Korean.”
At the mention of Korean, the ma’am glanced to see Jinho’s face and asked Laurong again. It felt that she neither liked nor disliked Jinho from his Korean origin.
“But why did you bring him all of a sudden?”
“Un, this friend gave me an amazing gift. In return I decided to let him join in for a dinner.”
“Hmm, oh well. If you say so. Do sit here.”
The middle-aged woman turned to Jinho and directed Jinho to a seat in English, and with a thanks, Jinho sat down.
Looking at the food laid out on the table, Jiho’s eyes became round.
To Jinho, who back at home sees rice, Kimchi, seaweed, and spam as luxurious, Laurong’s dinner table looked diverse as a king’s dinner.
From seasoned meat to various fried food, Jinho drooled as he looked at over ten variety of food.
“Is, is it okay if I start eating?”
“Huhu, isn’t that why I called you here? Feel free to eat. Even for us it’s too much to eat.”
With another thanks to Laurong and his wife, Jinho held up the chopsticks and first grabbed the fried vegetable in front of him. The crunchy fried vegetable delicately melted in Jinho’s mouth, and his eyes were moved to tears.
“It’s, it’s so delicious.”
“Huhu, besides other stuff, my wife’s amazing at cooking. I chose a really good wife.”
“Then go out and earn some more money.”
“Eh hey, if I earn this much, what else do you want? Being greedy isn’t good you know.”
Soon the two’s squabble noisily filled the kitchen, but Jinho’s whole attention was already on the food.
Continuing from the fries to chinese soups and noodles, Jinho swallowed the food without even chewing like a vacuum cleaner. As Jinho realized he had too much food in his mouth and covered it to quietly cough, the girl next to him passed a cup of water.
“You’ll upset your stomach.”
“Thank, thank you.”
Jinho, who concentrated too much on the food to even notice who was sitting next to him, took the water first and drank. As the icy water flowed down his throat, his stomach calmed down. After calming his inside, Jinho looked to the person who handed him the water and nodded his head.
“Huh, thank you.”
The youthful looking girl, who seemed to be in her late teens, simply nodded at Jinho’s thanks, and paid no attention to him. But Laurong saw them and laughed.
“Come to think of it, I haven’t introduce Jinho yet. The girl next to you is my niece. She’s staying with us for a while. She recently got accepted to one of those art colleges in Manhattan, NY. Eh, what was the name…?”
The girl finished Laurong’s sentence and helped him remember.
<Miracle Drawing! 3.> End
Translator : CSV
Proofreader : Kuhaku