Of Mice and Subways
translated by the author
from Truyện kể Chuột và Xe Điện (damau.org 12)
At the subway stop of train #9, at the corner of 7th Avenue and 28th Street, in New York City; there lived two mice who were the closest of friends. They did not have names and only called each other by “the mouse who hated subways” and “the mouse who liked subways”. “The mouse who liked subways” was half year older than “the mouse that hated subways” and they had been friends for a year.
One day, “the mouse who hated subways” wanted to tell “the mouse who liked subways” a plan that she had been plotting to stop the trains from running. She had never told this plan to anyone. “The mouse who hated subways” believed that her friend will listen and understand. Throughout their friendship, her friend has always respected her opinion; even though at times they had to agree to disagree. “The mouse who hated subways” said that she was sick and tired of having to worry about hiding from the trains while she looked for food and ate. If the trains didn’t come anymore, she would be able to eat in peace and happiness. If the trains didn’t come anymore, the food would not be so difficult to find because they wouldn’t be scattered everywhere by the trains. If the trains didn’t come anymore, maybe one day other mice will come live at this train stop and they would have more friends.
“The mouse that liked subways” listened to her friend intently and genuinely. She was very fond of her friend. They had been through a lot of trials and tribulations together. One time, “the mouse that liked subways” got her tail stuck under the rail while a train was coming. “The mouse that hated subways” risked her life to rescue “the mouse that liked subways”. That was why “the mouse that liked subways” was so confused at this moment, trying to decide whether to tell her friend what she knew. She thought for a long while, and decided to express her knowledge after all. All things considered, she was more than one-quartered of a lifetime older than her friend. Maybe age is only important sometimes, but knowledge is always necessary.
And just like that, simply, “the mouse who liked subways” cleared her throat and slowly said, “If the trains no longer came, humans would also no longer come. If humans no longer came, than the mice would never have food. If they no longer had any food, they would starve to death, less alone have any friends.”
Anhdao Le Do/.
A Vietnamese Feminist
translated by the author
from Cô Dược Sĩ Việt Nam (damau.org 13)
Madeline Nguyen never imagined herself growing up to be a feminist. Her childhood idol was her father. He was a lawyer in Vietnam before the war ended in 1975. After they moved to the States, he went back to school to get a degree in biochemistry and became a lab associate. Madeline loved her mother but never idolized her. She always wanted to grow up to be like Ba, an important and confident member of society; not like Ma, a loving but insignificant housewife.
When Madeline was eighteen, she was raped by her then-boyfriend, a so-called “upstanding” pre-med athlete who got straight A’s at Berkeley. He took her to the vineyards in wine valley and attempted to get her drunk. Madeline had one glass of pinot noir; she was not even buzzed but was not strong enough to fight off the tri-athlete who ran a 26K marathon under 4 hours.
Madeline dropped out of school and became a femi-nazi. She worked at the local women’s shelter, cut her hair, and never wore make-up. She also started dating only women, not just any woman. She developed a disdain for “lipstick” lesbians and only dated real “tough sisters”. She taught workshops on self-confidence to the battered and abused women, in which there was an anti-plastic surgery section. She would council authenticity to the survivors, claiming it was the first notion to understand in the lesson of self-worth.
When Madeline Nguyen first met Alejandra San Juan, she fell in love. Alejandra was more alive than any other woman Madeline had known. It wasn’t love at first sight. Alejandra was a tranvestite and wore many layers of make-up. For every inch of her that was fake outside, just as much was real inside. Madeline fell in love with Alejandra after she saw Alejandra in a monologue. The whole monologue cannot be documented here, but it ended with Alejandra professing with every part of her cosmetic-powdered, collagen-infused, laser-surgery, silicon-enhanced, creme-painted body that “you are authentic when you become what you dream you can be.”
Madeline went back to law school. She spends her days prosecuting sex offenders and her nights taking her mother to Alejandra’s performances.
For Pedro Almodovar – A man who understands women.
Do Le Anhdao/.