There’s this journal that I gave my dad a few years ago. I asked him to record his story for me since I knew it was an important one and I had a hard time piecing together the vignettes he had shared. He finished the journal in 2008 and I retrieved it from him so I could transcribe it. He needs it back so he could write the second volume. It’s the only copy and it serves as references and triggers for his memories. I have to shamefully admit to you that I started to transcribe but had forgotten about the project all together for years now. It proved to be harder than I anticipated because though, Vietnamese uses script lettering, I cannot read my dad’s handwriting. I can read his English well because I know the language but not knowing how to read Vietnamese makes it next to impossible to decipher his squiggles.
I am making the complete transcription of this first volume (with highlighted marks and post-its bookmarking the words I can’t decipher) a resolution in 2013. I’m sharing a small snippet of what little I already had archived.
For a little background on my dad’s life story, you can read this post about his necklace.
My dad was worried about Viet Minh (Vietnamese Communist). At night after the French army retreated to their base, the Viet Minh guerrillas would come to whoever could speak French or had served the former government. They would tie the victim and lead him away mostly to a river to â€œmo tomâ€ (shrimping). The victim was tied to a rock covered with a cloth bag and thrown into the river. Every night, after pulling some bamboo trees to barricade the front entry, my dad stood inside the house peering through the crack of the window and planned to run through the back if the guerrillas ever came.
We escaped from our village one day to go to Thai Binh, the main district under the protection of French Army and Vietnamese non-communist government. I remembered my dad carried me and my sister followed behind. I was wearing my mom’s light sweater and the clay road was zigzagged with deep trenches that the communists had dug to slow down the French tanks.
I didnâ€™t remember where we stayed in Thai Binh, and for how long. Must be a short time, two or three weeks. First time I ate fried noodle in a restaurant! And loved it so much. Unfortunately, one time we were eating there, and one young man came to our table and cleared some dishes away. That made my dad angry and we never came back. I missed that noodle.