My first days in school were quite nice. Most of my classmates were sisters and brothers who played with me, so I did not feel lonely or unfamiliar.
Elementary education can be fun when it includes interlude songs and games.
The small students always looked forward to recess. For me, this was the time when I could eat the delicious lunches that Aunt Hung prepared for the children very early in the morning. Usually these were made of compressed rice and dry shredded meat or meat loaf. I liked this food, which was a specialty from the North --- especially compressed rice cut into small slices. It was easy to hold in the hand to eat, so there was no need for bowl and chopsticks like regular rice.
Nothing could penetrate so deeply into my mind as the memories of my childhood in Hoa Hao Village. The landscape, the people and events still come back to me vividly, as though I have just have visited the village yesterday. Perhaps it is because I think about that place and the time so often, so that everything re-surfaces.
I never forget the gentle allure of my teacher in the first grade of Hoa Hao Elementary school. I love to remember the way she talked tenderly and passionately about gratitude toward parents and ancestors, as well as about the duties of a grown-up person. She might not know that what she taught to her little pupils was absorbed so deeply into the mind of a little girl who had only begun her schooling and did not yet even know how to read.