3-Huyen's childhood

12 Tháng Năm 201012:00 SA(Xem: 1934)
3-Huyen's childhood

When I asked her about Huyen's childhood, Mrs. Hung said: "Huyen had a very hard childhood. At the age of 6 or 7, he had to get up at 5 a.m. to tend the water buffaloes, in order to help his father plow the land. When the buffaloes were tired he led them to a pasture for grazing. He wandered all day in the forest. In the evening he bathed the buf­faloes, then took them to the stable. Because of the war situation, since his childhood Huyen had to help us earn a living. Every evening he brought home a few fishes to prepare fish soup, or some guavas for his sisters, and a small bunch of firewood. When I wanted crabs, he ran to the rice fields and soon returned with a basketful of small land-crabs so that we could prepare crabmeat soup."

 

I learned from Mr. and Mrs. Luu Hung that Luu Huyen was born in 1945, the year the Japanese overthrew the French colonialists and seized power in Indochina. This was near the end of the Second World War, and in Viet Nam a national administration was established. At that time the Japanese Armed Forces agreed to let King Bao Dai set up his first government, of which the Honorable Tran Trong Kim was the Prime Minister.

 

As a child Luu Huyen spent only a few years in the comfort of his rich family. But from late 1946, when the war against the French started, until the signing of the Geneva Agreement in 1954, Huyen lived with his parents in the resistance zone.

 

At the beginning, when the war was not yet intense, the life of his family was still comfortable. Long before, Uncle Luu Hung's father had established a hamlet in the Ninh Binh area: he bought a few hundred hectares of land and some sixty oxen and water buffaloes, and he planted rice, oranges, and tangerines. When the war of resistance broke out, Uncle Hung's family moved to this hamlet. They personally participated in farming activities with a number of hired workers, and their life was full of hardship.

 

When Luu Huyen was 5 years old, the Chinese Communists took control of mainland China. Viet Nam continued to wage a war of resistance against the French, and the Viet Minh launched a campaign of persecution against landowners. Uncle Hung' s family was classified as "resistance landowners" because his father had purchased the land for cultivation, and because Uncle Hung was an intellectual from Hanoi, unlike the traditional landowners who had been exploiting the poor peasants.

 

In this situation, the Luu family kept only 6 hectares of rice land which they could cultivate themselves, and a couple of buffaloes. For this reason, from the age of five to ten, Huyen had to contribute to his family's subsistence. Huyen was responsible for tending the buffaloes. His father worked in the rice fields, or planted tobacco for sale to the troops.

 

According to Uncle Hung, since he grew up in this kind of hardship, and probably also because he saw how much hardship his parents had to endure, Luu Huyen always felt comfortable with manual work. While he tended the buffaloes, Huyen often had to rush to a bomb shelter when French aircraft bombed and strafed the area. Being used to this situation, Huyen was never afraid. Perhaps this is the reason he later selected a military career full of adventure, hardship, and danger.

 

In 1954, after the signing of the Geneva Agreement, Uncle Hung's family saw they could not continue to live in an area where individual freedom was trampled as a result of the cruel, inhumane class struggle. His entire family left the hamlet for Hanoi, getting ready to move to Hai Phong for the evacuation to South Viet Nam.

 

Uncle Hung's father, who had once been a high-ranking mandarin, decided to become a teacher after his arrival in the South. He opened a secondary school at Dau Tien in Binh Duong province. Mr. and Mrs. Luu Hung first went to Long Xuyen, then to Saigon.

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