Letter From NewYork

letter from new-york

A letter from New York published by an overseas Vietnamese magazine has moved me deeply. The persons who wrote it, Duong and Giang, were sending spring greetings to their parents and, on the same occasion, evoking memories of their family and their homeland.

“Dear Dad and Mom,
It has been three springs since our last visit. We intended to come this time but could not to do so. We wanted to be home at Tet to quench an intense thirst — the thirst for a stroll in a fine drizzle, for a view of pink peach blossoms, for the sounds of firecrackers whose scarlet carcasses litter village roads.

“We remember our first days in the United States. Many of us went through a great deal of humiliation. We had to accept menial jobs to eke (tut a living in a country whose culture is very different from ours. Sometimes we had to ‘combine’ several jobs, working in semi lethargy. At such times the only consolation we had were memories of you and those of the home country.

Beautiful Hanoi
Beautiful Hanoi

“Mont. whenever we think of you words fail us: we don’t know what to say to praise the immense love of the Vietnamese Mother. You rocked us to sleep in a bamboo cradle: you raised us with your inexhaustible milk. The first words we babbled were for you. ‘Ma Ma.’ We don’t understand how people can forget their parents and their country.

“Dad and Mom.
“In these days of spring the memory of Hanoi become almost unbearable. To us Hanoi is more seductive than ever. Immaculate clouds, deep and blue sky. Streets bathed in soft sunlight. Summer, the chirping of cicadas, sudden showers, aged tamarind trees, scarlet flamboyant’s, green willows. Golden leaves of autumn, dry winds of winter. Co Ngu Causeway dozing under rustling trees. Hanoi blooming at Tet rosy-cheeked girts selling peach blossoms and chrysanthemums… We remember the picking of fortune-bearing buds on the New Year’s Eve. We were walking by your side, drawn by the waves of pilgrims surging towards the temples. We feel closer to Hanoi than to Saigon — Hanoi with its long history, dignified and serene… The Temple of the Trung Sisters, the Lake of the Restored Sword, the One-Pillar Pagoda, the Temple of Literature, the Temple of the Saint Mother on the West Lake… We’ll never forget a very common dish with a very special flavor, the Hanoian soup or ‘pho’ — that beef soup in many varieties, clear or fatty, well-done or half-done, with lean meat or meat and sinew. The papers have written so much about ‘pho’ — “As long, as Vietnam exists, there’ll be Vietnamese, As long as there are Vietnamese, there’ll be pho… Pho is a pre-eminent Vietnamese dish… The pho I tried in Paris and Geneva, that’s ersatz… A bowl of pho is a philosophy in itself…”
This shows how strongly those “boat people” are tied to their homeland by invisible but unbreakable bonds of tradition.

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