Her name was Bang Niang, and she had been running the pancake stall in the street market of Khao Lak for more than forty years now. But as I approached her, she appeared to be nervous as hell.
“Can I have a pancake please,” I asked her politely. “Which one?” she replied brokenly, as if afraid of my response. I said, “I’ll have the banana pancake with Nutella, it is my mother’s favorite pancake, and mine too.”
That seemed to put some of her fears to rest, and she started making the pancake. She put the dollop of yellow cream on the huge pan first, and then started rolling out the dough. But her hands were shaking so much that she just couldn’t roll it into the right shape.
“I’m sorry, this never happens, I don’t know what is going wrong today,” she apologized again. “It’s OK,” I replied, “Just think back to your first ever pancake, this cannot be more difficult than that, can it?”
That brought a sad smile to her face, and she replied, “After making hundreds of thousands of pancakes over forty years, the last one ever is bound to be more difficult than the first one ever.” But her hands were now steady as rocks as she expertly cut bananas and placed them over the pancake, cooked it, flipped it over with elan, and then, applied a thick, gooey layer of Nutella on it.
“It’ll be difficult to let go of this shop, it’s given me so much,” she had tears in her eyes as she handed over the pancake to me on a paper plate.
I held her hand instead, and hugged her tight then, and when I trusted myself enough to speak, I said, “It’s given US so much, and that is why it is now time for you to put your feet up and relax, while I take your wonderful legacy forward. So enough of the waterworks now, move over, and let me start cooking. Which pancake would you like to eat Mom?”
She smiled and said, “Banana pancake with Nutella. It’s my favorite, and my lovely daughter’s too!”