My mum would wake me up with a smile at 4 a.m. every Sunday back in New Zealand. The sound of clanking pots and pans and our rice cooker blowing steam in the kitchen would echo all around me as I frantically gathered my Barbies, coloring pencils, and other necessities that a 6 year old must have with her at all times. In the meantime, my parents would prepare the rice and fish for the sushi they sold every week at the Sunday Market.
The Sunday market usually started around 6 A.M. To me, it was a playground filled with interesting people, pets, and most importantly free samples. I was quite the people watcher. I would think it was the funniest thing when large people had small dogs and small people had large dogs. I would run around the market with my Barbie taking free samples whenever I could and filling my notebook titled “Interesting People of the Market” with drawings of the people I’d meet.
I remember a crowded sausage stand with the best sausages ever. I would visit the stand 4-5 times each day, squeezing through people’s legs just to grab a sample. Each time, I disguised myself by putting my hair differently or changing my voice in hopes that the stand owners wouldn’t realize it was the same person running to get free samples and yell at me. In retrospect, I think they knew it was the same girl.
By the end of the day, we usually never sold all of our sushi. Each time, my parents and I would pack up and sit in our car, finishing off the last pieces of sushi together as I recounted the fun adventures I had that day. At the time, I thought people intentionally wouldn’t buy the remaining sushi because they wanted to save some for us.
Waking up at 4 a.m. every week just to sell sushi and earn a few dollars probably wasn’t easy for my parents, especially in a country with a significant language barrier. However, those Sundays were some of my most treasured moments because I was given the chance to spend time with my parents and explore one of my favorite places.