Vietnamese Diary: Chapter X Print

Dinh and his Assumptionist friend, Paul HungWe were in a traveling rhythm by today. No sooner had we unpacked our bags than we were packing them again and on the move.

It was gong to be very hard to leave my grandmother, my uncle and his family in just a few hours. It had been so long that we hadn’t seen each other and there wasn't enough time to visit and catch up. We just enjoyed each other's and that was enough for us. When I opened my eyes this morning that was the first thing that came to my mind.

I woke up quite early on this Wednesday morning around 4:30.  My grandmother was sitting there praying the rosary. I had that image in my memory for a long time and here it was in reality before me again. The image is not only of my grandmother but also of my grandfather who would also be seated there with a pot of tea smoking traditional Vietnamese tobacco.

Dennis enjoying ANOTHER cup of green teaFr. Dennis and the novitiate community enjoying a drinkThe Novitiate house

Early morning is always my favorite time of the day, especially that day. I enjoyed the quietness of this early moment with my grandmother so much. From every corner I could hear roosters singing their part to keep time for us. I kept looking at my grandmother and she would look back at me once in a while. I know clearly that she always thinks of us and prays for our safety. Even if we did not talk much, I felt so peaceful to be close to her. Then I told her that I would be ordained next year. She was very calm and still and slowly said: “then you can say Mass for me when I die.”  With a peaceful voice and wide-open eyes, she repeated the same sentence. It made me feel good that she could now be at peace every moment.

Breakfast was served. Another friend of mine came with some mangoes when all  of us, my uncle, the driver, my grandmother and I, were having a big bowl of “Bun Bo,” a noodle soup with slices of beef and special herbs; I also had a half of a big grapefruit. Then pealed a second and a third one; then it was on to the mangoes. We talked about simple things of our ordinary lives. Sometime, we just kept silence and that was enough. My grandmother hadn't changed in the way she fed us, took care of us, asked us questions, looked at us, etc.. She also asked me where Dennis was.

When he arrived and I was explaining how “Bun Bo” was prepared, my grandmother came to make sure that we were eating. I thought it would be enough for her to see us eating, but, no, she had to encourage us like an Italian grandmother saying "Mangia, mangia, mangia." Dennis understood very well what she was saying even if it was in Vietnamese. After breakfast, as I was answered a phone call from my mother, Dennis took a walk with my uncle and my cousin. It was around 8 AM but even on  this first day of December, it was around 75 degrees ---a tropical winter!

We had set the time for our departure: 9:30. I was trying to get my things together and my grandmother sat there in silence. She did not want us to leave. We all knew it, but we all had to do what we had to do. We took a family picture with Dennis. Then we left. She stood there, crying and looking at us until… she could not see us anymore. It was not easy for me either at that moment.

It took us close to 4 hours to drive 110 km. (80 miles) to the novitiate community (along the way, I was able to visit one of my parents’ friends and one of my own friends and his family). The roads vary --- sometimes rough, sometimes smooth.  At one point it took us 40 minutes to go 8 miles. The road was only 6 or 7 feet wide along this stretch. The wind was dusty, so dusty that it would change the color of your shirt. If you met another car along the way, both cars had to pull to there side so both could pass. Motor scooters that passed by had little room and they were so close to you that you could have a conversation with them as they drove by....

We arrived at novitiate community around 2:30 PM on a hot day and there was no power. Each area is scheduled to have the power cut off on certain days by the local government. After “checking in”, an Assumptionist friend and I had a long conversation about the Vietnamese Assumptionist project. We also brought each other up to date on what had been happening to us.

Dinner was prepared by a novice. It included a bitter melon which I like very much. Of course, we also  had rice and tea. Night fell more quickly than I thought it would. Dennis and I had a wonderful time with the novitiate community, not only enjoying the meal but also sharing with them for some two hours afterward. We exchanged information about our work and the life of our provinces. Education came up again. After the sharing, we had a drink and I played card with them until midnight.

When silence seemed to fall everywhere, my friend and I went onto the balcony of the second floor to chat. We knew it was late, but we just wanted to talk. It brought back many memories of there time we were together a few years ago when I was in France. We slept outside on the hill of “the Chateau” so that we could share our stories and count the stars… That Wednesday night added to our memories and how me understand all the more how wonderful friendship is. It took my fatigue away and put me into a peaceful and deep rest. It was around 2 AM, already next day… It had been a wonderful day...

By Br. Dinh Vo Tran Gia, AA
Wednesday December 1, 2010

A Vietnamese Diary: Chapter I

A Vietnamese Diary: Chapter II

A Vietnamese Diary: Chapter III

A Vietnamese Diary: Chapter IV

A Vietnamese Diary: Chapter V

A Vietnamese Diary: Chapter VI

A Vietnamese Diary: Chapter VII

A Vietnamese Diary: Chapter VIII

A Vietnamese Diary: Chapter IX

Last Updated on Monday, 17 January 2011 15:26