translation by nguyễn đức nguyên
from the original flash story ‘mê nắng’ – damau #25
He started being passionate about sunny days after his release from the education camp. Almost everyday, if it was not raining, after eating a few bowls of left-over rice, he would start wandering around the village, bathing under the warm sunshine. He seemed to enjoy these walks the most when sauntering on top of the dirt banks separating the rice fields; where the shadow of the biggest, tallest tree could not even reach. When exhausted after a long walk, he would quietly find a place where the sun shined the brightest, to sit down and rest. And he never walked under the shade. On the days when there was no cloud cover and sunlight was in abundance, he would be at his most joyous and cheerful self; his face beamed with excitement. Otherwise, if it was cloudy or raining, he would look lost and sad; his eye-brows furrowed almost touching one another.
One time, he spent time gathering all kinds of empty glass containers from around the neighbourhood. On nice sunny days, he would carefully select one from his collection; and standing in the open, he clasped the uncapped glass container with the palms of both hands, raised it up and down, forming an arc in a swooping motion as if he was scooping sunlight; his lips moved silently like he was incanting some secret magical chants. Then, he capped the container, walked to the nearest house, asked for a piece of paper, glued it to the outside and carefully marked the time, date and places that he had been that day. Once in a while, during some drinking sessions, after he had a bit to drink, he would jokingly tell his drinking buddies – mate, if you are truly my mate, when I die you must bury my containers of sunshine with me, you must remember that.
At first, if asked, he did not say much. Later, after a few bottles of rice wines, he hesitantly and haltingly explained. Mate, them sunlight, they are good. Them, so bright, so glorious, mate. Me, I waste them not. Or, mate, me, I know not those who hide in the dark. Me, I can’t tell whether they are dirty or clean. But, mate, if you bring them out into the sunlight, then I can. Even you can. Or, mate, you know, during my time in the camp in the mountains, doing labour work during the day, me, I still had to write self-criticism essays at night. Damn them, mate, me, I swear with you that I did not do anything wrong that need writing down. And mate, I wrote and re-wrote and re-wrote; they still were not satisfied.
Mate, them, they tend to hide in the dark. Darkness is their shield, covering their actions. One day, me, I will pull all of them outside into the sunlight.
He died after a few years and the villagers banded together to give him a decent funeral. They buried him in the village cemetery together with his collection of containers of captured sunshine. Since then, a legend grows that on certain nights, people can see streaks of lights dancing on top of his grave, as if they had managed to escape from those precious containers.