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page 28

Nu Quang, USA


Gifts

My adoptive mother, who emigrated to Vietnam from China, was unable to read a nursery line to me, but she did tell me folk tales and gave me books about emperors, queens, poets, and national heroes. One folk tale was about an old woman with fangs who ate children who refused to do as they were told – yes, I was a headstrong girl, growing up in a dangerous time of war and civil turmoil. As the Vietnam War escalated, she guided me to a new world – a school that taught English. It cost much more to attend such a school, and she paid for my books and tuition with her hard-earned money selling lotto tickets in monsoon rains and under the subtropical sun.

when I first
called her "mommy" –
her smile

It was English that helped me to succeed in South Vietnam and, later to succeed in my new country. Sadly, she died the second year after I settled in America and I learned about her death a month later because I couldn't get mail directly from Communist Vietnam in the 80s.

the Pacific waves
drowned her last call for me . . .
daffodils in bloom


line

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