Suhyuk got out of the dinner get-together by making an excuse.
It was 10pm. It was late, but not that late into the night.
He arrived at his villa by taking a taxi. An old and battered villa.
Looking at it quietly, Suhyuk walked up to it.
“Who is it?”
The door was flung open.
Suhyuk’s mother stood with eyes wide open.
Surprised by his sudden appearance, she stared blankly for a moment and then hugged him.
“Oh my god! You came back here without informing me at all!”
Suhyuk, held in her arms, closed his eyes.
He felt warm, comfortable, soft and cozy while being embraced by her.
All the flowery words that could be found in this world were not enough to describe a mother’s shield for protection.
“Did you eat?”
“Yes, mom, I did.”
“Did anybody come to our home?”
His father’s voice was heard from the living room.
“Honey, Suhyuk is here!”
Suhyuk stepped into the living room with a carrier bag.
His father was standing with the TV remote controller in his hand.
“When did you come back?”
“I arrived in the evening, but first stopped by the hospital.”
“I see. Nice work. Did you eat?”
Suhyuk just smiled at his father’s blunt way of speaking, which made him happy whenever he heard it.
“Yes, I ate before I came here.”
Despite that he asked his wife, “We’ve still got samgyopsal (pork belly rashers) in the refrigerator, right? Roast them for Suhyuk.”
“He said he had dinner already.”
The she turned to Suhyuk, saying, “Your daddy purchased samgyopsal today. It’s very delicious as they were made near here. Let me roast them. Do you want to try?”
Suhyuk nodded his head.
He could have samgyopsal only several times with his parents.
“Let me wash up first.”
Putting down his carrier bag on the floor, he headed for the restroom.
Then he heard his parents’ conversation outside.
“We don’t have soju anymore?”
“You drank it already in the evening!”
“Let me go out and buy some soju at the supermarket.”
“Are you going out to buy soju again? Buy some beer for Suhyuk, too.”
Suhyuk was all smiles while he was taking a shower.
When he went out, he saw the dining table covered with all kinds of delicious foods.
Kimchi soup and various kinds of side dishes, and samgyopsal, too.
“Suhyuk, come on in and eat.”
As soon as he was seated, his mother gave him some samgyopsal that she wrapped in lettuce.
“Tastes delicious, right? Your dad bought it.”
With a smile, Suhyuk opened his mouth,
“Dad, mom. Let’s move to another house.”
Suhyuk left home very early, and stopped by the real estate brokers’ offices.
Though it would be more desirable for him to let his parents choose the house they wanted, it was certain that they would not let him do so. They told him even yesterday that the current house was more than enough for them, and he knew the reason without asking them why they said that.
When he went into a real estate agent’s office, a woman in her early 40s greeted him.
“Come on in. Are you looking for a house?”
“Yes, please show me a good one.”
She instantly scrutinized him. A man in his 20s wearing ordinary clothes.
Yet his face was somewhat familiar to her, which instantly came to her mind before disappearing. There were lots of people with similar faces.
“Sure. One bedroom or two bedroom house? There are many cheap listings out for sale.”
“Oh, have a seat then.”
Offering coffee, she sat face to face with him.
“These days there are many listings for long-term rent, too.”
“I want to buy one.”
“I see. How big one are you looking for?”
She felt that he did not seem able to afford one.
“Well, I’m looking for a spacious apartment, hopefully with a terrace.”
Her eyes were opened wide.
Even those in the upper middle class could not afford such an apartment.
Was this man playing a trick, she thought to herself.
“How much do you have in mind?”
Suhyuk smiled, saying, “I’ll buy any listing I like, regardless of the price.”
Now Suhyuk was looking around a big apartment.
It had a spacious living room with four bedrooms, plus a terrace.
It was as if he was looking at a small garden, with grass on the terrace, which reminded him of the Sky Park on the rooftop of Daehan Hospital.
Suhyuk looked around the terrace slowly.
It was spacious enough for his mother to place flowers and plants.
Back to the living room, he looked at the spot where a TV set was supposed to be put.
A big-screen TV in that spot.
Obviously his father would like it, who liked to enjoy watching soccer and baseball games on TV.
“The restroom is also spacious and good. Look at the landscape from the terrace. You could have a barbecue party here with your kids in the evening. It adds a fantastic atmosphere, I think.”
Suhyuk smiled at her remarks, though he did not have any kids.
“Ok, let me sign the contract.”
The sales contract was completed very quickly, and that very evening he visited the apartment again with his parents.
“Oh my god!”
His mother was at a loss how to express her joy, moving from the living room and bedrooms to the terrace. His father slowly moved around the room with his hands clenched behind his back.
Coming to Suhyuk quickly, she opened her mouth,
“Son, you didn’t buy it yet, right? One must make a living within one’s own limits. I love this place, but it looks too expensive.”
Then his father came up to him, saying, “you had better cancel the contract. Let’s go.”
“I’ve already purchased this.”
His father’s eyes were wide open.
“What did you say?”
Looking at them, Suhyuk smiled.
‘Living within one’s own limits? If that’s true, they should have lived in a much bigger one than this. They’re great parents who raised me by working so hard up to now. I’m here thanks to them, and I was able to be a doctor. I made a lot of money during my stay in the United States. They made all the sacrifices for me without looking back on their miserable life. It’s about time they enjoy their life even in a small way.’
“Are you sure, son? Can’t you cancel this contract?”
At his mother’s asking with concern, Suhyuk just smiled, saying, “Yes, I purchased this.”
“Haaaah……” She let out a long sigh.
His father was looking at Suhyuk quietly without any words.
Then he said to his wife, “He said he purchased it already.”
At his words, she said, “Suhyuk, come to me, dear.”
And then she hugged him tightly, saying,
“How could I live in luxury like this without you?”
Feeling her warm body temperature, folded in her arms, he murmured to himself,
“This is just the beginning. I’ve a long way to go.”
Watching his wife and son quietly, his father moved to the terrace.
A clear view from the terrace seemed to make him feel very good.
“I think I have a good son…” he murmured, and then called his friend,
“Hey, it’s me. I’m going to throw a housewarming party. When are you available? Toilet paper? No, just buy some pork neck. It’s an apartment with a garden. How much did I pay? Well, my doctor son bought it for us, hahaha!”
The date of Suhyuk’s enlistment was set.
One and a half months away.
It was enough time for him to remove a spike that had been stuck in his chest for a long time.
Hana’s Rice & Soup restaurant.
Looking at the signboard, Suhyuk went into the restaurant.
As it was lunchtime, the restaurant was crowded with customers.
The memories of his get-togethers with Dongsu and Hana came to his mind one by one.
Rolling up his sleeves, he went into the kitchen.
Sensing someone’s presence, Hana’s father turned his head.
“If you take a seat…”
Suhyuk smiled at him, saying, “How have you been, sir?”
“Oh, who is this? Korea’s signature doctor!”
Suhyuk moved to the kitchen sink with an awkward smile, but Hana’s father stopped him.
Killing his boredom by watching TV, he was already aware of all the news stories about Suhyuk.
“Your hands are not for this kind of rough work.”
He pushed Suhyuk aside and said, “You didn’t have lunch yet, right? Let me bring you a delicious rice with soup, so go and have a seat.”
Suhyuk bent his knees to check the condition of his ankles.
“How do you feel now?”
“I’m okay. So, just get out of here, please.”
Not caring about what he said, Suhyuk touched his ankles with his hands here and there, asking,
“How about now?”
He made a bitter smile, replying, “It hurts if you touch it like that.”
Suhyuk stood up after hearing what he wanted to hear.
The nerve was still alive around his ankles, which meant the surgery could be done without any difficulty.
“I’m sorry to have kept you waiting for so long. Let’s go for surgery.”
Making a smile, Hana’s father said, “I just feel okay. So, never mind it.”
“Well, I can’t go to sleep,” said Suhyuk.
At his reply, Hana’s father hardened his face.
Had he been repenting for himself up to now? So, he wasn’t sleeping properly?
Though Suhyuk was smiling, he looked so pitiful.
“Okay, meal first. Go and have a seat there.”
At the customer’s asking for the cheque, he was about to move, when Suhyuk stopped him.
“Let me take care of that. Yes, I’m coming now.”
Suhyuk reported to work at Daehan Hospital.
He was there for the surgery of Hana’s father’s legs and the post-surgery care, which he estimated would take about one month.
15 days after that, he was supposed to be enlisted in the army.
The time was enough, so he did not make any haste.
Actually he took into account the remarks by Hana’s father that he could not close the restaurant all of a sudden.
So, he gave Hana’s father one week for preparation until the surgery.
Suhyuk adjusted his schedule for it.
And he began offering lectures on his stem cell research as he did in the United States.
Fellow doctors and professors came to listen to his lectures, regardless of their ages or ranks.
Suhyuk was no more the kind of person who took on all the assignments for himself at the hospital like before.
It was as if they looked at a seasoned lecturer.
Suhyuk was determined to teach them all his findings on stem cell research.
“Thanks for your nice lecture!”
When he was done, all the medical staff present there gave him a standing ovation.
Especially, Prof. Lee Mansuk and Prof. Kim Jinwook clapped their hands energetically.
Looking at Suhyuk, Lee shook his head, “What a wonderful guy!”
Kim, next to him, made a smile and said, “I knew early on he would hit it big like this.”
Then Suhyuk’s cell phone buzzed. It was a call from Prof. Han Myungjin.
“Are you busy now?”
“No, I’m just finished.”
“Good. I hear that a patient was just transferred here from another hospital. As I have to go to the operating room now, I wonder if you can take my place. He’s in the intensive care unit now.”
Suhyuk moved immediately.
At his prompt action, the medical staff murmured among themselves,
“Dr. Lee, he’s running again...”
It was not unfamiliar to them to see Suhyuk running around in the hospital.
Soon he arrived at the intensive care unit, asking the nurse,
“Where is the patient that was transferred from another hospital?”
“Oh, come this way. And this is a chart sent by the hospital.”
Suhyuk examined the chart swiftly.
<23-year-old woman patient Kim Suji>
<No reaction to any treatment>
Suhyuk pulled down a curtain when he saw the patient, after being guided by the nurse.
A woman who seemed to be in her early 20s.
With an oxygen respirator on her mouth, she looked so miserable.
A sort of little voice came out from her mouth, who was looking at him with half-closed eyes,
“Haaaaaah…. Hello, doctor…”