|Me & My uncle Yung shared a chicken heart|
The rain kept falling as if it were nails dropped down from heaven. The noise was deafening as many people had metal roof tops. I was mesmerised by the sound, by the hundred and millions of drops that bubbled up on the ground and made many exploding balloons everywhere you looked. The grey grey days of the monsoon was a relief to everyone although it was still very humid, there was a welcoming breeze and I always sat on my little table in the Bun Bo Hue street cafe that was the living room of our home and watched my grandmother serve bowl after bowl. She would smile all the time at the customers. She tells me now, that she always saved her youngest son, my uncle and I a heart and a liver from the chicken, "I would cut it in half for you every day because you both loved it."
I remember seeing her somewhere among the cloud of steam - that would surround her by her stall. Her hair was always up in a bun and she was a round and handsomely chubby woman who would at any given opportunity sniff me whenever I came near her. The Vietnamese's kiss is a sniff. Instead of using their mouths to kiss, they kiss with their noses, a sniff kiss.
Then I would remember practicing my alphabets and I would see the elephant man who lived nearby. He always walked across from the street - never on the same side but always over the road. He had a very big deformed head and he used to walk from the left to the right of my view with a straw bag. He always wore a white shirt with short sleeves and a beige pair of shorts. I would see him very often and I think I must have just stared at him. I knew he was different but I didn't know why.
|My Uncle Thu- (the most handsome man I ever saw)|
I am in California now - somehow we all exiled eventually. After over thirty years, I sit with my uncle on my grandparent's American couch at his parent's 60th wedding anniversary and he tells me his story of how he escaped, in his early twenties; his weeks at sea facing storms, starvation and almost death. He ends up in Brooklyn with a toothbrush, the clothes on his back and someone gave him $20…