Monday, August 30, 2010

Bombing the Bong Son Bridge

The explosion was so loud that it woke up the whole entire city of Bong Son.  I opened my eyes to this loud noise so close by my house. At the same time I saw all of the windows and doors of our house spring wide open.  Things on the shelves in my house were crashing down on the floor.  I heard my mom's terrifying voice called out to us to go in to the more secure room to hide.  I was crouching low
on the floor while there were guns firing outside.  We knew right away that loud noise was a bomb meant to sabotage someone or somthing specific, but we did not know what got hit. 

After what seemed like an eternity, the gun fire wore down, and we all went back to bed. The next morning we found out the bridge that helped us to travel from the village to the city of Bong Son had been sabotaged last night.  It was the saddest sight I have ever seen.  I had always known that our lives were connected to war and we could be killed any time, but seeing the broken bridge, which had taken me and my friends to school, to church, to the market etc. in the city of Bong Son saddened me. It made me realize war was close to home, and we were helpless to do anything to stop it.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Vietnam 1970's Wedding: Thai attends her first wedding

My mom told me one night she would take me to a wedding reception with her in the morning.  Being very young, children often do not attend these important events. Only the adults are invited.  Imagine my excitement.

My mom and I left early for the wedding ceremony at church. She reminded me to get ready.  I was excited not because of the food, but because I had not attended any weddings yet.  I wanted to see what happened. 

We went to the groom's house first.  All the ladies dressed in Vietnamese Traditional Dress (Ao Dai). They were all sorts of different colors with flowers imprinted on their dresses.  Some men also dressed in Ao Dai,
and some wore regular slacks and shirts.  My little brother and I were escorted  to the table where all the kids were sitting while my parents went up to the main room of the house. 

There were big signs all over the house starting at the gate that said "Tan Hon," meaning newly weds.  From the gate through the courtyard into the front door were decorations of red fabric ribbons and flowers.  I noticed that even the landscape pots were tidy and pretty. 

I saw the bride in her red wedding dress woven with golden.  She paired it with a white satin pants and a red round hat.  She topped her dress with outer wear made of sheer fabric rimmed with gold.  I thought she was so pretty.  To me her husband was a different story.  He also wore white satin pants and a long silk shiny blue ao dai. On his head also was a round blue hat but he did not look pretty like the bride.  I thought he looked weird.

Then there was music, but by this time, after the ceremony at the home, introductions of the relatives,
and passing around the teas and gifts, I was tired and ready to go home.  I wanted to get out of my pretty
dress, which I was so excited to put on that morning for the occasion.  I saw some children running around the courtyard and playing. I started to join them, but my mom looked at me with a smile and shook her head.  I knew she wanted me to behave.

I do not know how long a time had passed, but I finally got to hold my mom's hand and go home.  What a relief! I remember thinking weddings weren't fun at all.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

My Mother in Vietnam, Now I'm a Mother to Her in America

Taking care of my mom  every weekend is an honor,  a privilege, and a duty  I am glad I am able to share with my siblings.  This Saturday when I was at my mom's,  to my surprise she was not her usual quiet self.  She patted gently on her bed and told me to come lie down next to her.  I came and put my head on her pillow,  my face to her.  To be this close to her, I was able to see how beautiful her skin is for her age.  I giggled to her, "Mom, you are so pretty. Do you think maybe because you have been eating just vegetables,  fruits and milk?"  She did not answer me, but just touched  my face and smiled.  I saw the glistening tenderness in her eyes.  I did not know what she was thinking, but I thought how ironically our positions had changed.  I was the one she was taking care of,  and now I  am taking care of her.

I remember being very young and sick one time.  I did not know what my temperature reading was, but my fever was high.  My mom asked a nurse in the next village to come see me.  He gave me some pills.  I guess it was kind of like Tylenol nowadays.  We did not have antibiotics to help me feel better the next day.  I was in bed with a high fever for days.  My mom did everything she could to help my body fight the virus.  She made me orange juice she picked from the tree.  She cooked me congee with lots of  peppers in  it.  She put a wet towel on my forehead every so often.  Because of the fever I had many weird scary dreams.  Every time I woke in the night, my mom was always there watching over me and hugged me, so I won't be alone.

Now, sometimes my mom wakes up  in the middle of the night and opens the front door. Because I am sleeping and tired, this makes me frustrated at times.  She was so patient with me. I only hope I can be  patient with her. I understand now that no love on this earth can compare to a mom's love,  and my love for my mom is nothing compared to her love for me.  Thanks Mom.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Flood in Vietnam

Flood is something my village had to endure every year.  If we were lucky, we would have one flood every year. Most years we ended up with two or sometimes three floods.  My village was between a mountain, brook and the Lai Giang River.  The river's end connected into the ocean.  When it rained for days, the water would overflow the river and the brook. On top of that we would have water coming from above the mountain and all of that flowed into our village.

Because of the flood, most of our homes in the village had raised foundations.  Sometimes the flood would just hit the foundation and withdraw, and sometimes it would come into our homes and rise high up, almost to the ceiling.  For my parents and the adults this was a

hard time, but for us children, when the water started to creep into our streets we were overjoyed. As children we were excited to feel the water at our feet on our own street and yards.
The crickets came out from their holes, so we caught and stored them in jars.  My dog and I used a hollow
door and floated around our yard until the water was too high for safety.  After the fun, we were all soaked
and wet. We went upstairs. My mom would feed us steamed rice with salty fish.  This was the best

My beloved people  had to suffer not just from the war, but also had to endure so many other catastrophes in life. And yet we were always there for each other. We shared the same values and love as my mom shared when she provided that small pot of steamed rice with the rest of the villager who were there at our house
on a rainy, stormy day.