WHY AND HOW WE WENT TO NLS BAO LOC SCHOOL
If we had not been told much about it, we would never have thought of leaving home for it. During the 9th grade, all of what my 5 partners and I did was preparing for the admission day.
The whole NLS Can Tho was shocked about the news 6 of us would transfer to NLS Bao Loc. The school administrator stopped us by informing that we would be beaten to death. He himself denied to sign our transferring petition. Our classmates and some schoolmates wondered if we would have done the biggest mistake in life. Our parents could not figure out what the great attraction would be there but they all did see how determined we were.
The first thing we did was to do the farming on a small piece of school land to raise some fund. We went to Hau’s aunt’s in an rural area to borrow some instrument. We asked Thong’s father for the IR- 8 seeds, we collected money for the fertilizers and spent all of our free time working on it.
We labored as the farmers of the 1960s did and we slept in our classroom many nights for we should take care of our rice field. We ate such a kind of meal that no one could. For lunch, we ate fresh bread with lemon juice for lunch. We had plain rice with soybean sauce or fish sauce for dinner. At weekend or by the time we were about to harvest, we rode there from home. We arrived there late and we climbed over the front gate to get in. We used a small oil-lamp as a main light. We did not care for anything but getting some money for our coming trip to reach the goal. Our school seniors- staying in Soc Luong- named us as soon as they met us ” Bui Gia Trang”. I proudly printed B.T.G on our basket ball T-shirts as our logo. We had all played basket ball rather well which made us more friendly as we often practiced with the guys at Dong Nhan- Chinese school in Bao Loc- our first connection to the world outside.
The summer of 1971 came. We finally got the significant stuffs for what was called our first trip to get to know NLS Bao Loc. We arrived there at about 3 P.M in a chilly afternoon. We met ”Bac Nhat” standing by the principal “ Thinh Lang”. They calmly refused to consider our petition due to the over- class size issue that year. We felt like losing everything. Bac Nhat comforted: ”Come on young guys, get someone’s introduction and try again.” He also adviced us to check in Minh Phuoc hotel overnight- our first staying in a hotel. That night we made a plan to visit Da Lat in a spirit “ Nothing to lose- fighting til the last drop of blood”
We suffered an unforgettable cold as we wore Kakhi shirt- no sweaters nor jackets. In Dalat, we just took a short walk to Xuan Huong lake as Phuc Lun could no longer walk in the cold wind. We ate smoked corns, drank soybean milk and that was all. Our trip was just as meaningless as people may think but for most of us it affected us as deeply as no one could ever imagine.
In Can Tho, we encouraged Trong Tho to go get his uncle’s signature as well as a letter of introduction. That he and Thinh Lang were close classmates helped our second trip a success thankfully. If we hadn’t had the letter, we would never have been able to experience what a lot of students have ever dreamt of.
Before leaving home for school, people often celebrate the event proudly.
I did it alone on behalf of my family. I invited 5 of my partners and 3 of their parents. I cooked and served 4 main courses as well as a good house wife can. The guests just wondered how on the earth I could do that kind of thing.
They had not known that I had been doing the cooking since the age of 9 after my dad left home for his second wife and my mom as well as my sister left home for work.
The next afternoon, in Sai Gon, at the bus station, we were amazed to learn that there were only buses in the morning. Excluding a chance of staying over night in the rental room, my solution was to bring them to my dad and step-mother’s house on Quang Trung st.Go Vap dist where I had never been at. So the next morning, my dad drove us back to the bus station to get to our school.
Instead of moving into a rental house, one more time, we had to stay at Minh Phuoc hotel- an impossible thing to most of the high school students.
We walked to school everyday and did exactly nicely what we were ordered to do during the first week- so-called “ The week of insulting training”. Then, what would have come gladly came. There were our names on the class list of attendance- Forestry class 10. We all sighed and the jumped to show the joy of becoming the students of NLS Bao Loc. Imagine that.
( to be continued )
Luong Ngoc Thanh-TL 74