Thang did not think that his wife Mai had suddenly left him, bringing
along so many secrets. For many nights, he lay on his side, looking at
the high cheek bones on that square face, at those drooping lips and
closed eyes of hers and understanding that she was really alive only
when those lips opened and smiled.
That morning, a group of marines from the Army of the Republic of Viet
Nam (ARVN), from the far side of the Vinh Dinh River, decided to cross
the wooden bridge with a view to staging a counter-attack against the
2nd Company of the Liberation Front Armed Forces (LFAF), isolating it
before separating it from the 1st Battalion.
I arrived in Germany when Christmas was fast approaching. Snow was
covering the ground. At night standing on the sky-high buildings and
looking down the streets bedecked with brightly lit, coloured lanterns,
we could see windows decorated with the twinkling lights.
This small place was used as a studio, a bedroom and a kitchen for three
people: Lan, Hanh and her first-grade son Chung. Hanh woke up under
her thick cotton blanket.
We got out of the car at the provincial capital's bus station at dusk.
Teachers and students laden with pots, pans, rice and other foods
trudged to a village 10 km away.
The 30m-long bus, with passengers packed together like sardines, was
inching forward by fits and starts as it made its way along the road
during rush hour, before crossing the flyover to enter the inner city.
It was first light in the morning. The dogs were barking deafeningly.
Diem got up suddenly and looked out of the canvas tent. There were two
dogs. One was black and the other cowhide-colored. She heard someone
When Mr An passed away my wife cried her heart out. As for me,
although I was just an outsider, I had to lean against a pillar, eyes
brimming with tears. My heart sank with pity.
We were the sappers stationed on Ngam Pass. We had to bear the rain of
enemy bombs throughout the night. When the raids were over, we started
to mend the road until day broke.
From the first day of the Lunar New Year to the fifteenth, her plate of
cakes for visitors had been stayed untouched. That made her remember the
hard time in her childhood when she had only dreamt of eating sweet
things to her heart's content.