I have known Thành more than five years. He came to America along with his father’s qualifications in the H.O. program. He is kind of good-looking but has been suffering from acute deafness. According to his mother, he was born in a bomb shelter. They spent two months in the shelter, while airplanes were dropping bombs day and night outside. He damaged his ear-drums and became no longer normal. Due to his deafness and the lack of education, he could only work as an assistant for gardeners. I want to help Thành out, so every now and then I would call him over to work on my lawn and do some heavy chores. I have to speak louder than usual when we communicate, and yet sometimes he still can’t hear well so we have to write notes to each other. I notice he is slow but wise. Once, while replacing water for my gold fish tank, he gave me a comment: “These fish are so happy because their eyes are too lumpy they can’t see too far; they just look at each other.”
One day, after finishing a yard work, he told me he was going back to Viet Nam to get married. I wondered how he could support his wife. I asked his mother later, and found out in his last trip to Viet Nam two years ago, he met a girl that he found quite appealing. The girl’s family knew he had no money, so they offered to pay for all of the wedding expenses and fees for the paper works. He just got his American citizenship, so they rushed him urgently.
To welcome his wife’s arrival, his mother threw a party to introduce the new couple with relatives and friends in the United States, and we were invited. While watching the bride walked around the tables at the party, I noticed she is a pretty girl. Her face is very bright. A little bit of concern suddenly came over me, reminded me of those unhappy stories I had heard — “Viet Kieu comes home for wife.” When they came to our table, I represented everyone and sent good wishes to the couple. The groom just smiled, as we all knew he could not hear too well, and the timid bride did not say a word. Their mother spoke on their behalf, “We thank all of you for coming here today to celebrate with our family. Please, give the couple your love and understanding. One of them is deaf, the other is mute.”
A hand shakes me up:
– Wake up, dear. It is too long for a nap. You have to attend Thanh’s wedding. It’s late already.
SOUND OF MUSIC
translated by author from Tiếng Nhạc (damau.org 14)
The doors closed, like a blindfold on her eyes. She dressed up in the dark, picked a silk blouse in the drawer, changed herself. She put on the make up and drew her eyebrows.
He has been waiting for her, rushed to her.
– Your make-up is pretty enough, what else kept you too long?
– I will be done right away, please hand me my red shoes to match with the blouse, the one I bought last week.
He brought the shoes for her, then reminded her.
– Did you put on your lipstick? This blouse seems like the neckline was cut too low?
– It is fine, I am still young.
They got out of the house. They talked while walking, to the grocery not too far from home. When they reached the intersection, they bent their heads, listening. The sound of music rose from the lamp post, signalling that the green light is on. He reached out his hand for hers. They crossed the street – hand in hand.
The music followed them until their last steps.
I contribute my literary works to a website. To encourage the writers to
do their best jobs, the Editorial Staff rewards each writer that has the best article of the month a black cat stamp. After you collect five black cat stamps, you can trade them for a bottle of wine.
Being a wine lover, I have tried my best to have good writings to get my reward. In a indefinite period of time, I collected few first choice bottles of wine and stored them in the basement.
One day, a fellow writer stopped by for a visit. My group of friends gathered in my house to welcome the guest from afar. I went down to the basement and got my rewarded wine to share with everyone.
All the wine bottles were empty and not even a drop of wine was left, I took all the bottle up to the living room. I wanted to find out what was going on with all these unfilled bottles.
Before I started the question, some voices raised to answer my clueless face.
“Nothing like literature websites, cat stamps, rewarded wine and even writers had ever existed.
Right at that moment, a black cat with long tail bended his back flash himself and passed over me. He hit to the glass door and disappeared into nothingness.
The crashing of the broken glasses gave crunchy noises, the pieces of glass splashed in the air. I turned my head around.
The living room was quiet, empty just like no one ever came.
My teddy bear is very old, I do not remember how long I have had him. As a habit, I’d been going to bed with him nightly. I hugged him in my arms when I laid on my side. I tucked him under one of my thigh when I laid on my back. He’s just a little bear but he provides such stability. Maybe this is only a habit of trust, but without him I would feel like I was on the moving boat, and it would be hard to sleep. I hugged him as I hugged my sleep, my dreams or my poems. Both of us are pretty old!
One day, that man came in town, we just had enough time for a cup of tea together, then he was gone.
My teddy bear became weird, he stretched up his arms and turned into a man, both his eyes looked at me while I was sleeping, both his ears could perceive the sound of poetry. I recited the new poems for him, the hazy poems.
He is no longer old and I am suddenly new.