HOW I DID THIS
“ Mom, If I could do one thing for you, that would be my higher education.”
It was not easy for anyone to do so. But from the bottom of my heart, I set up a goal and that was to pass the college entrance exam and to make my Mom as happy as she should have been.
Since I got up early to study, I could get a nap so easily on the grass under the shadows of pine trees in the school. After the last hour, it became dark but I could still stay in alone study math, physics and chemistry. I always held a thick pile of those books.
When I found a book hard, I tried another one. Some teachers must be wondering to meet me some time as late as 6 P.M coming out. I was always the last to come to the student diner- Thien store. On Sunday, almost my classmates went out. Some could go home. Other got some special things to do. The others stayed in with friends, in coffee shops or even restaurants. Tai Bot and I silently went to the school to study books and to re-read the forestry lessons which occupied us a lot of time.
When walking on the road, being afraid of being scolded as a bookworm, he complained about carrying such a lot of books. I told him that I could carry his and I did not care who would shout at me what a bookworm I had been. I had my reasons to study and they had theirs to be in coffee shops. I rarely went to cafe – only Quynh’s - and famous stores like Duy Khai’s and I was paid for it of course. I had never been in “Banh Beo Ba O” or Ngoc Lan cafe even though I passed by everyday.. I had no ideas how to play billiards while my class mates like Sau Leo, Trong Cop or Minh kiet and lots of others were famous for their skills. When I was asked to stand by to count their scores, I would later be offered a drink. Just because of a cup of hot milk I often ordered, they called me Thanh Xi.
My Mom had never been told how much I needed to eat and drink. In Can Tho, during 3 summer vacations, I refused to have breakfast she cooked or ordered for me due to a simple reason that I had been used to having nothing for breakfast. I could never forget how delicious a bowl of noodle with beef at Duy Khai’s was when Tai Bot or someone had invited. I also never asked her for any small amount for any simple things as a movie ticket or a T- shirt or anything. I stayed in practicing the classical music on my guitar.
When we went back home- 6 times in 3 years, we chose to catch buses from Dalat so when they stopped by Dinh Quan for lunch, we ate bananas instead. And then we could reach home at about the time the town of Can Tho was lighting- making our homecoming more impressive lovely. Once, in 1993, by the time I was coming, I was welcome and as soon as a neighbor asked me if my Dad had been sending me money, she cried out and blamed him loud to show her anger. I stepped in the bathroom to wash my face and to hide a lot of tears coming out on my face as I had never done it before. That night I wished I would go back to Bao Loc or die immediately and that spring break became meaningless to me. I kept lying in bed sighing or playing very sad songs on my guitar. If it had not been for my guitar, I would have run out of home. That could help people understand why I just played sad emotional songs. It seemed to me just my guitar and Bao Loc could have understood how I
felt what I was thinking and how hurt I was considering myself my own future.
One morning, one of my neighbors having coffee at my Mom’s small coffee stand invited me a coffee and a cigarette as a matter of courtesy. Hearing me saying my refusal, my Mom proudly said:” My son never touches a cigarette nor a cup of coffee.” Actually, she knew I had though. I bet any mother would be feeling the same way.
The three years passed by rather smoothly and there came the entrance exam- the toughest for any school boys in 1974. Failing the exam would also mean joining the army and probably dying soon later. So the best result ever was a pass. I studied 20 hours a day since the day I came back to the exam day. Suddenly we had a couple of visitors. Tai Bot with his Mom came from Bien Hoa not for a simple visit. His Mom slowly explained why she had come with her son.
“Dear, My sister! My son suggests that I should come to ask you if you could be kind enough to let him stay with yours so mine could be as studious and learn from him as much as they both wish to pass the exam.” politely she said.
Nobody had never seen my Mom smile happily and appear so proud as she did at that very moment.” Well, we don’t have much but you’re welcome to share what we have and your son is able to get or to learn from mine whatever he has known and whatever I have taught him.” calmly she talked to the woman.
They both seemed to be ones of the happiest women in the world because they had two best sons among some of others’. That night they talked about a lot of things but mainly about us. I guess my Mom may have said:” My son-Thanh- is the best every mother wishes to have. I am happy to give birth to him.” Am I correct, Mom? But I passed to exam. He did not. You felt happy and proud of me, didn’t you, Mom?
HCMC Apr 30, 09
Luong Ngoc Thanh
( Thanh Xi- T.L 74)