A farewell in the mirror on an uninhabited island
She and I would say farewell. That was why we were having dinner together. She sent me a text message: "Let's eat together tonight. I have something to tell you. Something important."
The scorching June sun made the surface of the asphalt road seem to melt in a dim wisp of vapour which was flickering up slightly. Even our wooden plank bed was too hot for me to lie down on. On such a day I usually hung my grandfather's hammock on two strong branches of the sapodilla tree at the end of the veranda to enjoy the cool fresh air from the river nearby.
At age eight, I was given a good hiding by Father because I had left the buffalo hungry and tried to get near a classroom. When I was 10, I was given another good hiding because I had helped a boy next door solve a problem. For women and girls in my family, being literate was a sin.
When old Coc Loong, a cancer patient, was sent home by the provincial hospital authorities, his clan was greatly worried. He was not only a descendant of the famous Luu lineage, but also a respected resident of Na Luong Village due to his special ability.
Having dropped the net, old Ngu swam one more round before he reached the shore and rested his head on a tuft. A cluster of hyacinth flowers was floating lazily towards him, like the vague memories that were drifting into his mind.
The deserted house
Come what may, the confrontation between the old mother and her daughter-in-law remained unresolved. Every week, she had to sweep her mother's room and endure the nauseating stench of her chewed betel quids and uncared-for toilet.
Dien had a close shave the other day at a railway barrier that ran through the city near her office. The barrier guard was in great fear when he saw the girl appear out of nowhere and stand motionlessly in the middle of the rail.
One early morning in late autumn, Hau caught the express train from the South to Ha Noi, then went upstream to the mountainous district capital of Yen to pay homage to her ex-husband Hien, who had just died of a brain haemorrhage.
Having received the Decision of the Provincial Education Department, Thanh prepared everything in a hurry before heading to Duong Son, a mountainous district 200 kilometers from home, to start his teaching job.
As one of the few leading figures in the national performing arts world, he lived on meagre wages from the State budget in a shabby house provided by the government with his wife and three sons.
Serenade
His house was next to mine, but when I grew up, I did not know him. Mother told me that he joined the army when I was still very small. Only his mother, old Hai, was left living alone, selling sundries. We shared a hundred-year-old terminalia tree.

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