The Grind

The weight of Mozart chocolate

Feb. 6, 2022, 2:08 p.m.

When my roommate asked me for another one of my Mozart chocolate balls, I rejected her for the first time. We are the best of friends to the point where we live together “like an old married couple,” sharing everything that is shareable and teasing each other perennially. My LaCroix is her LaCroix, and I have used her music stand more than she has — no resentful thoughts on either side. But when she wanted to have my chocolate once again to fill her demanding stomach, I tossed out a resolute “No” and buried myself in work. My conscience reproached me harshly, but “oh well,” the devil in me said, “everyone gets overwhelmed by ‘stress’ every once in a while.”

The truth is that my “anxiety” was only a cover for the treasure I was trying to protect. It pinches my heart to think that these “Mozartkugeln” chocolates and what they represent are disappearing from this world one by one. On the second day that I returned to Burbank after winter break, my floormate and ITALIC alumna Sarah handed them to me, a bag of gold foil-wrapped candy balls with the side profile of Mozart printed on each. She brought them to me as gifts from her home country of Austria, where the acclaimed classical composer rose to fame. As a classical flutist and hoarder of exquisite objects, my heart was so full that I burst out screaming when I first saw them.

“I remember we were talking about Mozart-themed souvenirs that time,” Sarah said, referring to the conversation we had at Coupa Cafe during Thanksgiving break as a part of the ITALIC mentorship tradition, “so when I saw them I thought I would get them for you.” In return, I bought her a pair of yellow socks with cow prints.

I enshrined these chocolate balls in my everyday life. I made sure to only have one when I wanted the ritual of appreciating their perfection to put me in a better mood, peeling off the delicate gold foil by carefully unfolding every crease and biting off a morsel at a time until I got to the pistachio-creamy core. I was horrified when I found out that my roommate had devoured two of them to satiate her hunger, crumbling the wrappers and throwing them at me lightheartedly. The distorted face of Mozart, the silver curls on his wig all twisting together, stared at me angrily.

Whenever I set my work aside, I constantly flash back to how she almost swallowed them whole and how I denied her. Bringing up this incident in a casual tone to my father on the phone, he laughed in ridicule: “Just look them up on Amazon and get some more! It’s not like these chocolates are nonrenewable resources.”

His words rang a bell. I tend to treat special food items like they are heirlooms. After a visit to my birthplace, Moscow, when I was in fourth grade, I kept a bag of Maltesers (the British version of Whopper candies) that my dad gave me for months after I returned home to Beijing. I let them sit in the farthest corner of my desk drawer, alongside a patch of fur that his dog Ilma shed, which I wrapped in layers of napkins. One day I returned home to find that the Maltesers were gone. My mom had given them to my sister when she could not find other snacks for her to take to school on exam day. I teared up silently as my sister sneered, “Eww, why are you keeping them? They’re not even edible anymore.” She completely missed the point. The Maltesers were hardly delicious, but they were some of my only mementos of the month that I spent with my father, who was absent for large portions of my life due to his business abroad. And the little pack of dog fur, even after it became a bed for moths to lay their eggs in, still transported me back to my time with him and his big Central Asian Shepherd.

I eventually gave in to my family and threw both of these mementos away, but I did not realize how much weight they still carried in my being until now, as I am sobbing uncontrollably while wiping the dust off these memories for the writing of this article.

There is a traditional Chinese story about an ambassador from a satellite state paying tribute to the emperor of the Tang dynasty with a beautiful goose. Despite the cautions that he took, the goose managed to escape from his control along the way. After days of self-blame and regret, he decided to continue with his tribute, wrapping a feather that the goose left behind in a piece of silk and writing on it a poem: “Although the gift is light, the intentions behind it teem with weight; we send this feather to you from a thousand miles away.”

I am far from being the emperor of the Tang dynasty, but I cling onto these objects to preserve the human relationships crystallized in them. But as I am reflecting on it now, I sense that my dad might be right. If I cherish these chocolate balls so much for the good wishes they contain from Sarah, why should I not pass them on to my roommate, sharing the warmth with those around me?

Yuanlin (Linda) Liu ‘25 is a writer for the Opinions section of the Stanford Daily. Contact her at opinions 'at' stanforddaily.com.

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