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Mother, Daughter and...

Writing for Contest "Being Grateful..."

Mother, daughter, and…

Nguyet Nhi

I have seen many times my eyes filled with tears, like a basic instinct by the time I was born in the midst of your blood; it was the tear of punishment and misery, soaking along the night an unfaithful lover fleeing away or through ups and downs of life. Yet I never cried because of missing or wanting you. Never!

Sometimes I felt nothing but hatred for you

After years, people still spill your harshness onto each other. I heard of it with a feeling sting and so much care. My childhood went through with your whips. It was an everyday and everywhere stuff to me. It was raining and when I could not clear the peanut dried on the roof, you grasped the club and threw it down on me; I managed to get it missed but it got my leg. It must have been on my ankle. I broke down and thought I might have been paralyzed for good. Grade fifth, I went out to learn the farming, as dumb as usual, and I could not remember what was up to make you furiously give me the full rake, made of a mature bamboo. I fell flat on my face to the field, full of mud and manure to my nose. People came to pull me out, crying- and I seemed to see the tears started to your eyes. My memories of whip and lash striped across my all senses. Those days appeared to me that, I was always trying to get away from home, to the furthest, just to avoid your whip, despite your daughter was the best at school, better than any others at the same age even though I never had proper schooling time and even every single neighbors acknowledged your two daughters very nice and hard-working, even when their father was elsewhere far way. Those times, I guessed the hatred of you did torment me. Forgive me for those of such thoughts, mom!

The childhood and the conversations with the graves

You gave birth to me when it was the cropping season. You often told. We grown up as stunted as the dried-out cassava which smelled urine moldy in the vase at the corner of the house, so much that whenever, wherever later I came across such stringy white and the badly burned smell, I felt faintly dizzy. Well, it is not only our family that was poor; it is not only you and I who were stroke with poverty.

Dad seemed to leave behind no traces, dropped by us once for a while with his cranky bicycle, and as scraggy as his figure when he was fixing the back chain after 60km bicycling.

When did I start going to work? I couldn’t know, only remembered when you and your son went out, I had to take care of every single household work since I was five. My hands must have known the sickle before the pen. My hair was burned sometime when I built the fire while studying half-awake. When I got 8, I was there all alone in the field amidst the night, smallest in when stooping to water the vegetables field. It was the winter cropping season when the way to the pond was slippery with slush; I had to dig my nails to balance. That may be why my legs now seemed not of myself but the one-eye gigantic. I sweated out when it was in the midst of winter gusts of wind, and surrounded me was the frogs crying out in the dark. I could only talk to myself when watering the vegetables. I talked with my pitiful Mic that was sold to the dog merchant, shedding the tears to it and blaming myself who tricked it back for dinner just to be sold out. I could no longer eat dog meat. I talked with my shadow to get rid of the fear for the swaying-like graves, to get out of with the stories of ghost, lost souls and swaying undefined figures. I named those the conversations with the graves.

Nguyen Minh Dong dich