This small flower is everywhere: in an abandoned house, along roads, around your garden, … It may be mixed in the green of grass. You may have never looked at its beauty as the flower is too small to be attractive.
“The way our people hold the cup can show different meanings to their partners: hospitability, joy, sorrow, anger, and challenge. You should watch out!”. The old man keeps on telling me stories and customs of his people with proud in his eyes. With a jar of straw wine (a local-made alcoholic drink produced from rice and forest leaves), I spent hours enjoying a journey to one of great cultures in my country – the Thai culture. “Every customs and traditions you see today have roots in the past. You know, my family name is the name of a sacred tree”.
I have been working in remote and rural areas throughout my country for over five years. My job as an environmental educator helps me enjoy opportunities to work and learn from local communities I have been to. For me, the mysterious culture behind all legends and traditional festivals is always interesting and fascinating. My country is home to 54 different ethnic groups. It also means that there are 54 different cultures I can explore and learn.
Khi em nhớ anh
Trái tim anh biết
Khi em lặng thầm ngồi khóc
Điếu thuốc trên tay anh đốt đỏ đêm dài
Khi bàn tay em chợt nhớ bàn tay
Anh viết câu thơ dở chừng ngừng bút
Nghe tim mình da diết
Tưởng hơi thở ai phả ấm cả mùa đông
Khi môi em thầm gọi tên anh
Ở cuối mùa đông mùa xuân tưng bừng đến
Bờ vai anh chợt ấm
Không còn thấy cô đơn giữa phố đông người
Khi em nở nụ cười
Mùa xuân bừng muôn hoa thắm
Anh một mình im lặng
Nghe xung quanh hạnh phúc nối tay về
Chìm vào trong phố
Những mùa thu quên
Ai đem hương rải vào đêm
Cho mùi thịt da em dìu dặt
Tôi đi qua hoang tàn đổ nát
Dấu chân còn in trên vết rêu phong
Hoài niệm ngày xưa thì thầm hát
Những giấc mơ dài bình yên
Ai cho tôi được phép hờn ghen
Những mùa thu đi qua bên hiên vắng
Tôi lặng yên say trong chiều nhạt nắng
Nghĩ về những dấu chân
Nghĩ về em
Những nỗi lòng đêm đêm xao xuyến
Những suy tư dài bất tận
Giữa hỗn mang cuộc đời
Nồng nàn bên tôi
Tóc ai vương mùi hương hoa sữa.
Dự dội trong lặng im
Biển và em những ngày nắng đẹp
Một mình tôi trên bờ cát
Nghĩ về em và biển xa
Nỗi cô đơn rồi lại qua
Nỗi buồn rồi lại đến
Con sóng nào lỗi hẹn
Không vỗ về tim anh
Đôi mắt em ngày lặng im
Sâu như màu xanh biển biếc
Thả hồn trong giây lát
Sợ tình yêu cuốn trôi
Anh sẽ phải về thôi
Đêm chập chờn khói thuốc
Biển vẫn còn thao thức
Đợi chờ lúc bão giông?
I live in the capital city, where there are state-of-the-art things around. The office I am working is small, no air conditioning, no fancy modern equipment like others in this noisy city. Anyway, I am happy to work from morning till late afternoon to build up a small organization and do things that I believe are right and may bring the good to people.
The house I rent is also not a fancy place but cosy enough for silent nights and weekend days that I do not feel like working at the office but rather reading some of my collection instead. This 50 square meter home is really a mess without a woman’s care. And I am happy to live there. Some nights I might sleep during a TV show and wake up finding myself in a covered shelter.
She was cooking by the fire with two children, one boy and one girl. I made a joke and told her that she should get a ten (means perfect) as she has a balance of two sexes of her children. “I married her when she was studying grade six”, her husband smiled. “She was 16”. And now, at 20 she has a family with two cute lovers. The little girl looked clean and neat, not like other children in the Katu village. The brother boy refused to take any cloth. He liked to be naked and roaming around the village with his friends. “I like swimming”, the boy shyly amitted.
The small girl smiled everytime I looked at her. Charming and cute – I must say. She worked in the restaurant and found her life good enough compared to her friends, who had to struggle in rice fields. Her face turned red when I asked her about marriage status. “I am almost 17. Too young to get married”. “Did you go to school?”. “Yes, but I dropped several years ago”.
Life is too tough here in this southwestern area of the country. Many girls decided to accept marriage to Taiwanese men – a current crisis as the press criticized. Many of them became slaves in a foreign country. Another “way-out” is to go to big cities to work in restaurants and karaokes.
Speaking English and French, she is bright and smart. I found myself lost sometime when arguing with her about youth issues. Internet and travel brought her many new friends inside the country in other places around the world. They discuss polistics, development issues, fair trade, global environmental trends, democracy and youth participation. I told her that she and her peers are the “gold generation” and the hope of our country. No doubt! They will soon become leaders of our time.
(to be continued)
Thank you for coming here, my virtual home. I am going to update information and stories as soon as I can steal some time from my busy work.