My mother smiles while recalling stories of my childhood:
“When you were very little, you saw many cycle-rickshaws on the roads, and you insisted on riding in them. I frequently took you on these rickshaws to go from My Luong market to Dinh market to have some treats and then come home. You were always happy with such a trip.”
In front of Dinh market was the crossing of the rivers Tien and Hau, named Vam Nao, and on the other side of the river was Thuan Giang market. Thus, all vehicles going back to the village would pass the house of Duc Ong, and as the road continued it would lead to My Luong (Duong Tat market), Phu An, Phu Lam, Long Son, and Tan Chau. All passengers traveling on vehicles, when passing the house of Duc Ong, descended and walked, their hats in hand, very respectfully, since this was the house of the parents of the Prophet.
Facing Duc Ong's house, on the other side of the road, was a pier with a boat dock reserved for boats of delegations visiting the Founder’s Hall. Along the side alley running from the main road to the tourist terrace, they planted a row of coconut trees. Years later, the initial wooden terrace was rebuilt into a large cement and tile one. But I still prefer the old small terrace of the other days. Between the road and the house of Duc Ong was a large orchard of fruit trees, where they also planted all kinds of flowers reserved for worship, and many ornamental plants in pots as well.
In front of Duc Ong's house, which resembled all other houses in the village, was the Heaven's Altar. The front guesthouse was very large and fresh, with a simple leaf-covered roof. The main house had a tile roof and brick walls. The front room was reserved for worship, with Buddha's altar and paternal and maternal ancestors' altars. The rooms behind were for the family. On the left side was a suite of guesthouses reserved for visitors. The big kitchen was built at the rear, in a fruit orchard.
Duc Ong lived near his eighth older sister, in the right side house; the left side house belonged to
Although Duc Ong was famous for his virtues, everyone in the village had a fear of his imposing prestige. By that time, small children like me called him Great-grandfather. He treated everyone as his own grandchildren. All wrongdoers were punished by kneeling down until a joss stick burned up. If the faults were severe, they must kneel down to many joss sticks, and surely they would get numbness and pain in the knees. Until today, the believers who had been living in Hoa Hao village still share that bittersweet reminiscence by threatening to make each other kneel down to the joss-stick as an exceptional punishment for a religious leader.