Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Vietnam's Jungle Law: A Sad Story

I apologize for not writing anything on my blog for a while.  This past Thursday, we celebrated our Vietnamese New Year.  I remember in Viet Nam, New Year's Day was a huge deal for all of us. We came together like a family no other time of year.  Tet is celebrated like a birthday for everybody, no matter where family is, each will try to come home at all costs.  The younger ones wish the best wishes to the elderly relatives and in return we will receive wishes from them and also a little red bag containing of money.  In Vietnam my mom and sisters decorated our home with all kinds of exotic flowers and hard to find fruits.  As a catholic, we went to church to thank God for the old year and pray for the new year.

Here in the United States, now we also attend church to give thanks and prayers at New Year's.  We cling to the customs as we had in Viet Nam, but I know it is not the same. Somehow there is always an aching feeling inside of me knowing that I am so far away from "home".

New Year's I should talk about happy things, but there is a story that I just heard from one of my friends returning from visiting his family in Vietnam last month.  This story has haunted me for days and I would like to share with you since we all live in such a safe and privileged country. We don't hear about what is really happening back home.  I often say Viet Nam has no law or their law to me is 'jungle law'.  This story will let you understand why I said such thing.

My friend was sitting at an eatery on the street of Saigon.  He bought some breakfast from a middle-aged woman who was selling food from her cart.  After selling him the package, she pushed her cart across the street. An SUV come charging down the street and hit her. Her body was on the street gushing blood.  My friend said he tried to run over to help. Some police officers held him back so he wouldn't be run over in the street.  People crowded around the streets but no one cared to help or  each was afraid to help.  Just then a young man from the SUV jumped out, stood over the dying lady cursing, blaming her for not watching where she was going. Then he got back into his car and sped off.  Throughout this entire episode, my friend said he used his camera trying to tape the tragedy, but again the police snatched it and also made him leave the area. He was wondering why, and they told him the driver was one of the high official's son. My friend left the country with frustration, disgusted, and he has been haunted with this sight forever.

For those who have gone to visit Vietnam as a tourist or who as child returned to visit the motherland, I have heard many of them say positive things about the country.  I wonder if it is the material things they see.  Where are the rights for my people?  I am sure all they see are the lavish, tall beautiful buildings, hotels...the facade of Vietnam.  I hope they will look deeper into the heart of my people. There they will see the sorrow, agonies, fright, anger that the communist government is trying to hide from the world.  Viet Nam has NO law. Any law now is "jungle law" to me.  I am sure with all my heart that my people were happier and even safer during war time than after the war ended, and there were supposed to be peace in Viet Nam.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Please respond to the beginning of the memoir in progress.


            At seven years old, my 1970’s Việt Nam was a breathtakingly beautiful land full of excitement and danger; a land of poisonous snakes, killer floods, and terrifying accidents. But it was also a place of adventure and delight, of exploration on the mountain and in the neighboring villages, climbing mango trees and picking acai berries, canoeing in the brook and crabbing, playing any and every game imaginable. Oh, yes, and by the way, it was a place where a war was going on. My mother, watched us arrive home plastered in mud or emerge from mists of tear gas, and folded us in her arms rejoicing in our miraculous, continued wellbeing. She knew we were surrounded by danger, so she trained us rather than chaining us.
My father struggled to save the world one child at a time by adopting Việt Cộng[1] spies and an orphaned boy, who years later turned traitor, a victim of communist brainwashing. Above all, we led as normal a life as possible amid battling artillery right outside the windows of our home.  My father, city manager and an important man, commanded our family before he died to tell people he was a good father
. Family always came first for him and then country. My father was humble about his public service.
I chose to write this memoir in tribute to what South Việt Nam once was, and also, to honor my parents, who planned and provided for my lucky escape from the horrors of the Việt Nam War that was fought on my front doorstep.

[1] The Việt Cộng (VC) are the Northern Communists who fought the Americans in the Việt Nam War.