The worst fear in life is to lose my mother.
I still remember, at the age of eleven or twelve, I had to live separately from my parents, since they were in exile in Cambodia and wanted me to stay in Vietnam to learn the language. Every night when I went to bed, I always thought about my mother and imagined the day she would die. Tears filled my eyes, and I decided that if my mother died, I would die with my mother. I would jump into her grave to be buried with her.
Now I am a mature person and mother of two teenagers. The love for my mother is still deep and strong, and I often wonder what I will do when my mother passes away. I would most likely not follow her in death, since I now have children whom I love as much as my mother loves me.
Every time I look at my mother’s hair, grayer by the day, and her more wrinkled skin, my heart aches. The moments I spend with her are forever more precious to me. I realize that all of those years I have wasted so much of this cherished time around her. My mother and I tend to disagree and argue quite a bit. She has different tastes and a different way of thinking than I do. I have now come to accept what my mother likes and the way she thinks. I am concerned that anything that makes her unhappy or upset could get her sick and shorten her days.
The moments I spend with my mother now are those of contemplation. I always observe myself to realize my words, actions, and attitudes toward her, to make sure that I do not hurt her feelings, so that I do not have to justify to myself that I inadvertently made her sad as I did in the past.
My mother reflects a tragic past of Vietnam -- my homeland -- mixed with tender and beautiful memories. My mother and I are two generations that have been living during the Vietnam war.
I never forget the bamboo groves, the shade of the areca nut trees and other fruit trees. I still remember the sunrise on Hau Giang river, the water reflecting in the morning sun with small boats going back and forth and simple peasants dressed in black and wearing conical hats. I still can see myself as a little girl swimming in the river, holding on to the trunk of a banana tree. In the afternoons I used to sit on a bamboo chaise longue, eating popcorn and watching a big sow nursing her litter of piglets.
We were born and nurtured by our Mother Vietnam. We were fed by the crops and fresh water of our rivers of Vietnam. Wherever we are, our homeland is always with us. All those who love their mother will love their homeland, because our Mother(land) is the very womb that brought us into this world. If we forget our roots, our mother’s pain and suffering that brings us into this world will be in vain.
I know for a fact that one day my mother will be gone. However, her image will always be present in my homeland. I will follow her example by giving my children the love of a mother, and the love for our homeland. As long as they cannot feel their mother’s love, they can never feel the love for the motherland. Without understanding the Vietnamese language, they will not feel the emotions contained in Vietnamese songs and words. Until they can speak, read, and understand our language, they will always feel alienated from the Vietnamese community.Those who, like me, grew up in our homeland have the duty to nurture the younger generations in their growth. We should work together to expand the boundaries of Vietnam beyond the S-shaped peninsula, to reach out to the entire world.