i know what you mean!


Posted on: April 30, 2018

This day 43 years ago, mom was holding An who was just nearly 3 weeks old, along with my older siblings waiting to evacuate from Sài Gòn.  All of my aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents from mom’s side were there, too, waiting for the gate to open so people could board the departing ship.  The elders later recounted to us the fateful tale  of that day.  Mom, dad, and siblings were all languishing there with thousands of others, and then by late afternoon, mom turned to dad and said haltingly, “Perhaps….. we go home and come back tomorrow?”  Dad waited just for that line, the young couple took their kids to the car and drove home.  Shortly afterward, the gate opened, every single immediate member of mom’s family left for the US.

Mom went home to face years of postpartum depression, anxiety, and a soon to be arrested husband.  When I became a mother, holding young infants, I did wonder what it was like to be in her shoes. Exhausted and physically unwell, a demanding newborn who needed to be changed and fed around the clock, 2 year old and 5 year old and 6 year old in tow.  And a husband in jail who needed to be fed and supported too.  All this from a woman who barely knew how to do any of this, because my grandma used to help taking care of all the kids.

Mom got rid of many books, burned pictures, and bought a red flag with a yellow star, hung it out like many others.  I used to hang that flag out as a kid, on days like this.  But in spite of the fact that mom didn’t say much about the past, didn’t teach us to hate the communist party; in spite of endless propaganda fed to me from the government as a child, I never felt any affinity for that red flag, red being my least favorite of all colors.  I felt no awe or admiration for Ho Chi Minh, or anyone praised by an authoritative forceful body, for that matter.  When I left Vietnam, I missed the green of the land, the pot holes filled with the sky after the rain, missed my second cousins who raised me for the first 3 years of life, missed my godmother, missed the food….. But not the government, not the history, not the sense of pride or nationalism, not the identity of a people.

The overseas Vietnamese community said we stand united under the old government’s flag, the yellow with 3 stripes one, likewise, I have no affinity for it.  It was nowhere to be found in my life when my identity was clearly vietnamese.  When it did appear, it came with endless protests with people in old military attires and strong sentiments against all things related to the communists. It was the other extreme end of the spectrum, it left me alienated.  So when the teacher of my child went through the ancestry section in 2nd grade curriculum, I was totally hands off.  I said nothing about the vietnamese flag, leaving it up to her. She chose the current ruling government’s flag to say that’s where she comes from.  I looked at it and said nothing.  Like me, she was just doing it for the assignment.  She feels equality detached from it. As she went through the researches, she got next to 0 help from me.  She didn’t even care about it enough to ask for help.  I just let it be, because truth be told, I don’t know.  I am a vietnamese without a flag, without pride, without strong sense of nationalism, but I do love some of the people, some of the arts, some of the stories, some of the landscapes, some of the language, some of many things.  I like speaking vietnamese to vietnamese people, i like sharing food, sharing cultural understanding.  But if you ask me shouldn’t i be ashamed to feel no gratitude towards those who have died for either flag, or those who have died to defend the country from whatever — i feel burdened.  It was their leaders in their times who got them to the point of death.  My own uncle left home at a young age of 17 or so, to join the original Viet Minh back in the 40’s.  He was never again seen, believed to have been killed one way or another.  In the large scheme of things, i feel sad for him, i hope he felt his death was worth it, or at least he had no time to feel regrets.  I detest wars, I detest people who are blood thirsty and call young impressionable young people to stand under their cause.  The leaders manage to live, and the young people die.  Don’t burden me with their deaths.

2 Responses to "burden"

gái viết thật hay

Me too. “I am a vietnamese without a flag.”

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happenings right now


April 2018
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