Rise - SHANKS IS IN DEEP EMOTIONAL PAIN!
Tis the end of an era, and the end of love itself. For there can be said that no love more truer nor more pure existed than that love between Shanks and his Chinese roommate. And today, that love died. Ripped apart by time’s inevitable passing and the vagrancies of fate.
It started out normal. Like all things do. Shanks moved into University housing. A shared flat with some classmates he met in the previous semester. Some of them were annoying, some of them were okay. But one of them was different. Shanks hit it off with him. In the coming weeks, they got closer and closer. Started spending more and more time with him. They bonded over how some of the other roommates had no boundaries and kept making messes. They vented to each other about how there was one girl who kept using all the kitchen utensils and never cleaned them. One by one, the roommates that Shanks initially moved in with left and moved out. Except the one Chinese roommate with which Shanks had bonded with. Shanks was a lonely sodium ion, and the Chinese roommate was the Chlorine ion that bonded him and balanced him. And in a world filled with a revolving door of University assigned roommates who moved in and out, the Chinese roommate was the only constant.
The true beginning of this relationship with his Chinese roommate started when a different Chinese roommate moved out and left both Shanks and his future paramour a stock of chocolate. Shanks, being who he is, took all the chocolate and put it in his room. He defended that decision to us by stating that no one else wanted it, etc, etc. But we think it was just an excuse. The Chinese roommate destined to be entwined with Shanks would frequently stop by his room for chocolate. Often when the three of us were on VC working on Rise chapter or other Rise projects. Shanks would disappear for 20 minute stretches where him and his Chinese roommate shared chocolate and brief moments of respite together. And over that chocolate and those 20 minute increments, a relationship blossomed.
Eventually, Shanks and his Chinese roommate decided they were ready to take the next step together. They would pool their money to buy groceries together and cook meals together. Every single day, without fail and regardless of what we were working on, Shanks would disappear an hour before dinner so he could cook with his Chinese roommate. Sometimes, Shanks would go over to the Chinese roommate’s room to remind him that it was time to cook. Other times, the Chinese roommate would come by and knock and tell Shanks he needed to stop messing around on VC because it was time to cook dinner. The two of them would plan and prepare extensive home-cooked meals, eat it together, and then clean up after. These two-to-three hour stretches of time at dinner were all that kept Shanks’ sanity intact during a world ravaged by COVID 19. And Shanks never skipped a single dinner.
I remember there was this one day where the Chinese roommate got sick. Shanks messaged me at like 3AM to ask if there was anything he could do to help the man who was the song of his heart get better. There really wasn’t, it was an ordinary cold. Anyways, dinner time started to roll around and Shanks got more and more antsy. He hasn’t seen the Chinese roommate all day. As dinner time rolled around, Shanks started texting. No response. He texted again, and got no response yet again. Then he started calling. No one answered on the other line. Shanks couldn’t take it anymore, and left to bang on the Chinese roommate’s door. No one opened. Shanks came back to translate some more and wait. But he only made it through a few lines before he couldn’t take it anymore. He went and banged on the door again. No one stirred inside.
Dejected, Shanks made dinner by himself. The first dinner he’d made alone in months. The first dinner he’d eat in silence since the Chinese roommate came into his life. The first dinner the darkness from the COVID pandemic was felt. Shanks ate in silence and sadness, but he couldn’t savor the food. The only thing he could taste was worry. What if something serious had happened to his Chinese roommate? He couldn’t take it anymore, and eventually decided that something had to be done!
Shanks contacted the people in charge of University housing to let them know something was seriously wrong. They showed up and use the spare key to open the Chinese roommate’s door. Shanks waited anxiously just outside the doorway, wondering… Thoughts ran through his mind. Dark thoughts. Perhaps he was too late. If only he was quicker and got the authorities involved faster! What if his Chinese roommate, the song of his heart, was no longer in his life? He’d heard the roommate coughing. What if this was COVID? What if this pandemic, that damned virus, was determined to take away yet another thing that gave Shanks a semblance of joy? Despair filled Shanks and radiated out of him in a palpable aura!
Shanks stood there, nervously chewing his nails as these dark thoughts assailed his mind. Then the housing authorities walked out of the room looking serious. A second elapsed. The longest second of Shanks’ life. And then behind them walked out the Chinese roommate. It turned out that he only had a cold, and took medication to sleep it off. That’s why he wasn’t able to answer Shanks’ texts, calls, or wake up from the banging on the door. But he was alright!
In the days that followed, life went back to normal. They started making dinners together again. They laughed and danced around each other as they passed ladles back and forth, fried chicken, and made rice. Shanks felt his Chinese roommate’s strong hands envelop his own as they made batter and stirred in breadcrumbs to make the batter for a katsudon. The joy had returned, and Shanks’ heart felt light again. Nothing felt better than eating a dinner together with his Chinese roommate on the couch, and then taking a shower after. Well… almost nothing, I’m assuming. There are some things a man doesn’t share with his bros, so Sietse and I know nothing about certain activities that Shanks engaged in with the Chinese roommate.
But alas, the nature of life is to know suffering. And all good things must come to a close. The curtain always falls, the show always ends, and moments are but fleeting grains of sand on the wheel of time. This semester, both the longest and the shortest that Shanks had ever known, came to an end. With it also came an ending to his time with his Chinese roommate. The housing contract was over, and both Shanks and his Chinese roommate had decided to seek new accommodations. They would not be together. The two of them had known for weeks that this moment was coming, and they tried to make the best of their time together. They tried to forget that they would not cook dinner anymore together in a few short weeks.
But that time that the two of them tried to forget, it came about as the river of time flowed. Today, Shanks’ Chinese roommate moved out and left him in an empty apartment. Nothing remained except the haunting memories of more joyous times. And Shanks would find himself cooking a tasteless dinner that he would eat alone, dry but moistened by his tears.
As bros, Sietse and I felt we should do something to honor the loss of Shanks’ Chinese roommate and the purest love that we’d ever seen. So we decided to cancel the chapter release today, and tell the story of Shanks and his Chinese roommate. Because finding love in a pandemic and then losing that love to the march of time rather than the ravages of disease… can any of us hope for better?
So let’s all raise a glass of melancholy to Shanks and his Chinese roommate!
– Devshard & Sietse