National Healthcare Debate

To me this seems to be the gist of the national healthcare debate:

“Don’t have health insurance? You’re screwed? Well, I’m not, so screw you!”

It sucks to hear such mean, short-sighted thinking. It’s depressing to think that such thinking exists.

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Attention Dear

The world may be falling apart, but my world is rich. I am constantly finding myself falling into rich pots. All I have to do is call a phone number. Rich, dead people have left me their millions. I have won lotteries. Monarchs have needed my assistance, and promised of rich rewards.

Since I am so rich, I don’t need the following money and so I can share with you all the following email that I just received. I know that by sharing this email, I am losing out on the money and inviting “another hoax”, but I have tens of millions “in the mail”. 

Attention Dear.

Your overdue payments of $2.5million U.S.D had resolved to pay you in cash,by boxing the monies and put to FedEx to deliver to you,to avoid another hoax as your disappinted in the past and do not disclose this transaction with any person.contact them with the below information. DR. DAVID TANKO; Director General FedEx Delivery Company Benin Republic. Email::(fedex_express_cc@live.fr) Tel Fax Phone +22998688340.

The below are the information their need from you

Your full name______
Your home address______
Mobile Phone____
Your Country______
A Copy Of Your picture_____
Your Nearest Airport_______

Your shipping reference code:AXD-101-87529K, shipment recipient’s (FedEx)

Yours Sincerely
Rev Paul Robert
National Co-ordinator Foreign Payment.
cell +22996443228

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Miracle Child

I have a four year old miracle child.  She told me herself.  She said she fell asleep one night without brushing her teeth – and her teeth did not rot!  It was a miracle.  I was so happy for her, but I did warn her that miracles don’t often repeat itself, so she shouldn’t think that she can skip on brushing her teeth.

She asked me if I was ever a miracle child?  Yes, I told her.  The fact that I am alive is a miracle. 

What about your teeth?” she asked 

My teeth.  There are no miracles there, only cautionary tales about too much candy and poor brushing habits.

When did you have your first cavity?

Before I had teeth, I had cavities.  I was more of a Ripley’s Believe It or Not child.  I was just weird.

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Two parents or Not Two parents

I read a blog today that had tempers flaring because I think the writer failed to use language that was conciliatory and peaceful when discussing a toxic topic that will never be agreed upon.  The writer and I happen to be married to each other and we raise children together, and yet, we disagree.  He says he wasn’t trying to offend anyone.  He only wanted to voice an opinion. I do think that his intent was well meaning, but his method was a bit rough. I  think that just wanting to voice an opinion -especially about an emotionally charged one requires extreme sensitivity, caution, thought, and diplomacy.  Therefore, he challenged me to try to write an argument for the topic “Children Need Two Parents”, without seeming smug.  (I had accused his blog post of seeming smug.)

I don’t hope to please everyone.  I just hope to be able to think about this subject in a different and less hostile angle.

                Children Need Two Parents
                     By Dvfmama

What is a parent?  A parent is someone who parents.  Some who has an active role in providing the essentially care to ensure that a child is loved and provided for.

Who are two parents?  Two parents are two people who parent together to provide the essential care that ensures that a child is loved and provided for.

With that defined, I dare say that children need two parents.  Why two?  Because two is better than one.   Call it the buddy system.  A backup system.  Three might be better.  Anymore will just be like the too many cooks that ruin the pot.  But let’s just stick with two for now.

I don’t have statistics to offer, because statistics is just a mumble jumble of data, multiplied by some mumble jumble number, divided by other mumble jumble numbers.  Statistics don’t mean much to me when dealing with people because people are different and everyone’s circumstances are different.

In my reasoning, the buddy system is the safe system because parenting is a taxing job that is very costly, does not pay one red cent, and offers absolutely no vacation time.  Trust me, when “we” (as in my husband, four kids, and I) go on a vacation, there is no me in the “we”.  Everyone has a fun, relaxing time – except for me.  My job travels.

Yes, one parent can do this alone, but not really alone. 
A he or she parent that ventures parenting alone will have to rely on at least one of the following resources: nanny, daycare, family, friends.  These sources of help are additional parenting sources.  So, unless the single parent is  independently wealth and can be the soul care provider, then that single parent isn’t really singularly parenting .

I am not saying that daycare qualify as parenting, not at all.  What I am saying is that, single parents do need help in raising their kids, when they can’t be available for their kids.  Single parents often have to work, and childcare is needed.  Family is the optimal choice in this situation.  If grandparents are available, then they are wonderful people who can help co-parent.  If aunts, or uncles,  cousins, etc… are available and willing, then they can provide that co-parenting.

Sure, a two parent, living together situation is very ideal.  I would say that it is highly recommended because kids need security, especially in the American culture, where extended families don’t share the same space anymore, much less the same block, city, or even state.

But life is never neat and tidy.  Divorces, death, and who-knows-what are circumstances that can change an ideal situation quickly to a less than ideal situation.  If something were to happen to my husband today, then I would instantly be in the single parent category.  I would be left without a partner in parenting that provides income so I can be available for my family’s needs.  I would lose a partner in parenting that can step in when I am sick or worn out.  I would also be left without a valuable sounding board to keep my own parenting skills in check.

If my husband were to disappear tomorrow, then I would need the help of my community: neighbors, family, friends, daycare, etc…  I would need the help of these resources to fill the gap, and provide a safety net for me and my children. 

My mother had an unfortunate life.  War, bad marriage, divorce, displacement, bad life choices were the main ingredient.  Her unfortunate life definitely affected my life.   In the first six years of my life, I absolutely had very few memories of my mother and no memories of a father.  Aunts, a grandmother, and a nanny had filled in the gap to care for me during my  mother’s and father’s absences. 

Did I feel different?  Did I feel like I missed out on anything?  Yes, and yes.  Of course, I felt different.  All the kids around me had traditional parents.  I did feel like I was missing out on the special bonds and moments of having a mother and father.  But my grandmother gave me her devotion.  My grandmother provided the motherly love.  She stepped off the boat that was suppose to leave for America, and chose to stay back in Vietnam to raise me.  My days with her were slow, happy days, filled with laughter. Her sacrifice and devotion made up for most of all that my mother and father failed to provide for me.

A person contemplating single parenting, should definitely think more carefully about the consequences of raising a child alone, especially if “alone” really means a lack of a permanent support group like family, who will most likely be loyal and flexible in generosity and time.  Daycare and babysitters, even friends, come with limits.  Therefore, I will redefine a single parent who does not have the strong and consistent support of family as the “alone” parent.

All parents get sick, and an alone parent does not have the additional safety partner to kick in.  All parents die, and an alone parent will leave his or her children alone, without a parenting source to help the bereaved children cope.  The children in this case will become orphans – a common nightmare of parents and children.

I will dare say that any person, male or female, that purposely chooses to have children, when they lack human connection with any other, is probably looking at parenting as a way to fulfill a lonely void.  That’s is selfish.  And I have a feeling that such selfishness, won’t stop at that, and that it might extend itself into other harmful areas.

But recognizing or even defining the selfishness of wanting children will never stop people from having children.  Because, having children is a selfish desire that ranges in degree, from the common “I want children to care for me in my old age”, “I want childen to carry on the family name”,  to the ethical delemma of “I want children, more children, to provide a donor match to save my ill child.”

Children are blessings.  Young couples are blessed by them, so are women who find themselves yearning for children but don’t have a partner, so are men who also yearn for children but don’t have a partner.  Biological or adopted, children are the sweetest things on earth.  They deserve good loving homes, surrounded with loving people to parent them. 

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How I Came To America

My coming to America is nothing spectacular.  I wish I had some fantastic story to tell, something heroic that can be splashed across the headlines:  Toddling Vietnamese tot outruns the Viet Cong, emerges from the jungle without a scratch, escapes to America by using teeth to hang onto a passing boat.

I am embarrassed to say that I didn’t suffer any hardship.  When I did make my grand entrance into the US, it was by plane.  My grandparents sponsored us over.  We had documentation and a waiting community of Vietnamese to help us transition into the new culture.  The story is really short and boring.

I do have a few memories of visiting a refugee camp.  We stayed there to pass medical inspections.  I know that these memories are not made up because I distinctly remember my first taste of Coca-Cola from a glass bottle.  It was the sweetest brown liquid that burned going down the throat.  The camp was very primitive,  with open faced buildings, dirt everywhere.  The day before we left, my mother took us to eat noodle soup, the Thai version of pho.  I don’t remember the food, but I remember my mother complaining about how sweet the Thai fish sauce was compared to the Vietnamese kind.  The next day we flew to the US.

The only tragedy occurred during a layover in Japan, when my mother bought my younger brother a plastic toy gun that whistled, lit up and sparked.  Of course my brother loved that toy.  I only remember the incident because my brother loved it so much that he couldn’t put it away for the one minute that we had to board.  My mother had put the toy away and he threw a fit.  Because he threw a fit, he got what he wanted, and the stewardess took it away.  That’s my six year old memory and feelings of the event.  I can still recall the incident like yesterday.  I felt sorry for him because it was such a cool toy.  I didn’t understand why the stewardess was so unmoved by his cries.  My little two year old brother kept begging my mother to go back to Japan and please get him another one.

Then we landed in Hawaii, and from there to New Orleans.  That’s about it.

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S-O-D-A

S-O-D-A, the dirty, four letter word that can ruin a child’s meal – or at least any child who acts like my children.  Soda, soda pop, carbonated drinks, soft drinks, Coke…call it whatever.  Brand name or generic, it is all sweet and tempting and E-V-I-L.

But the evils of soda drinks go beyond ruined appetites and uneaten meals.  Any person can benefit from consuming less soda.  Soda is high in empty calorie – calories that creates few healthful benefits.  The high concentration of processed and refined sugars not only contribute to the weight problem in our culture, but they (the sugars) also dehydrate the body.  It’s hard to believe but sugar does dehydrate the body.

My children didn’t believe that sugar can really dehydrate a body, until I showed them a real life experiment.  It happened during an afternoon of making carrot cake.  I had them grate two pounds of carrot, then dumped the grated carrots into a strainer that was sitting inside a glass mixing bowl.  Following the recipe, I sprinkled a cup of sugar onto the grated carrots.  Then I told my children to watch what happened next.

For two minutes nothing happened.  Then like magic, they saw the carrots bleed orange water.  Drip, drip.  One by one the drops of orange water came down, until one cup’s worth pooled at the bottom of the mixing bowl.  The sugar leeched the water, minerals, and coloring from the carrots.

“This my children,” I declared, ” is what happens to your body when you consume too much sugar.”

“Wow!  Cool Mom!”  were their awed responses.

I could go on and describe how soda drinks leech calcium, destroy the enamel on teeth.  But, I won’t because this stuff is general knowledge.  Everyone knows the warnings of S-O-D-A, but bad habits and indulgences don’t just disappear with knowledge.

It takes effort, action, and resistance.  No soda, or sweet drinks at home. Milk, coffee, tea, or water.   Controlling the flow of contraband into the home is easy.   There is no way I will pay $1.50 (the current price at my local supermarket) for Coca Cola that will cause cavities and ruined meals.   Don’t buy soda and it will not be available.

But we aren’t always locked up at home.  Often, we are on the road – short and long distances from home.  Many times, the days are eventful and hectic and fast food joints lend their helping hands.  But eating out at fast food establishments does not mean that we have to surrender to bad habits.

I had to wrestle with the sodas that comes with my own meal and my children’s meals.  It seems wasteful to opt out of a big drink when it paid for with the meal.  I don’t have to have the soda, but my kids want their sodas.  Nope, they can’t have it either, but they don’t complain too much because I always ask for chocolate milk as a substitute drink.  At Burger King, my children’s favorite burger place, it does not cost extra to substitute a chocolate milk for the soda.  Cheeseburger, fries, and chocolate milk for all the kids.  Happy eating without so much guilt.

But not all fast food establishments will allow chocolate milk substitutions without charging something.  Wendy’s will require an extra charge of 35 cents and Subways will charge 35 cents extra for substituting any bottles drinks (that includes chocolate milk) for their fountain drinks.  Even if the milk does cost extra, it’s worth it.

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P-O-P

I have been given an assignment.  The topic is “Why My Husband Disdains Pop Music”.

I don’t know why my husband should disdain pop music.  There is no way I can explain or rationalize another’s likes or dislikes.  Granted, pop music isn’t all good, but it certainly isn’t all bad.  As long as pop music isn’t taken too seriously, then it should be enjoyed for the fun and entertainment value that it provides. 

Today’s pop music isn’t as good as the older pop.  I tell my children all the time that 80s music rocks!  And it does.  There is nothing academic or stuffy about that decade in music.  Trying to dissect any of that music is like trying to find intelligence in a beautiful woman that can’t count beyond 10, and overlooking qualities in her that liven up a party.

Who do you want at your party?  The lovely rocket scientist, cordial, polite,  who can talk incessantly about the latest rocket fuel technology, or the vivacious, smiling sprite that’s not interested in shoptalk but is interested in toasting to life. 

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No roll Egg rolls

I am one of those that live to eat, eat abundantly, and eat richly.  I should be fat, but I am not.  I’ll eat anytime of the day, and I can eat as much as any man.  But, I won’t eat just anything. 

I love Vietnamese cooking, home-cooking, restaurant cooking –  but not egg rolls.   No egg rolls.  Don’t put it on my plate, I don’t want to smell it.  I know the steps into making them, but don’t ask me to because I won’t.  I can’t remember a time when I ever ate an egg roll even though my mother is famous for her egg rolls.  My brothers loved my mother’s egg rolls.  Every time Mom served egg rolls, they shoveled that stuff down, and I become a spectator – a very distant observer removed to the far end of the table.  People asked my mother to make egg rolls for them all the time.   Everyone loves that  stuff, but me.

It’s an unreasonable and really unfair dislike.  The egg rolls never did anything to me.  I never got sick by eating one.  My mother didn’t enslave me to cooking duty to make them.  Maybe I just hate them because everyone loves them so.  I am odd and temperamental in that way; and very disappointing.

And I do occasionally disappoint non-Asians who meet me and expect a mafia connection to the eggroll express.  I can detect one before they can shake my hand.  Their eyes light up, and they smile.  They ask if I know how to make egg rolls, or if I know someone who makes eggrolls.  Then I tell them the hard truth:  I absolutely hate egg rolls, and I don’t associate with people who make them (when they are making them), so there is no way I can broker a sale.  That’s the sad truth.

And people don’t want to hear the truth.  They look at me with genuine disappointment like I had failed my race, like I was their last hope for egg rolls.  So I tell them what I know: mix together ground pork, chopped cabbage, minced onion, salt, pepper, fish sauce; roll them inside an egg roll sheet, and fry in a deep vat of oil until brown.  Good luck.

“How much ground pork, cabbage, onion, salt, and pepper?” they ask.

“As much as you like: more meat than cabbage if you like it meaty,” I say.

“Where can I get this fish sauce and egg roll sheet?”

“Any Asian market.”

“Where’s the nearest one?”

I always end up spending 10 minutes more giving directions, and praying for an escape.

“Can you come show me how?”

“I really hate that stuff.  And I don’t cook Vietnamese,” I beg off.

The light leaves their faces and I am a bad Vietnamese.

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Sex

Sex sells, and although I won’t make a dime from this, I will at least fulfill a promise.

In a dark space, a low light illuminates a young woman standing.  A young man approaches her, takes her hand, and together they dance a waltz of romance as music swirl them around.  Their smiles and laughter sparkle and bubble like champagne, and love was so young.  Fresh love.  Young love.

They spend days walking on clouds together, holding hands, and never noticing anyone else.  Two lovebirds gazing into each other above the steamy mist of the coffee cups: dreaming of life together, and marveling at the beautiful inner goodness and soul of the being across from them.  It was heaven coming down to earth like sweet, warm rain. 

The music plays again and they waltz through a wedding, childbirths, and into the old age.

Into old age, the man one day stands by the kitchen window and look out at the sprinkling rain and sighs a wishful thought.  How he wishes the woman that he loved was more exciting.   She is kind and loving, but not exciting.  There is no story about her, nothing exciting to tell anyone.

He longs for the thrill of being able  to explain to people that she was a mail order bride from some Asian country that he picked out of a catalog of pictures.  The mail-ordered bride that didn’t know an ounce of English, but knew how to love.  She would never object, and always acquiesce.  And how the neighbors would whisper – hee hee, he would love that.  How he would have love that.

As the man turns from the window to look at the tiny woman moving around the kitchen, he sighs.  The woman in the kitchen looks like an Asian but that’s it.  She’s too Americanized, too much talk.  There’s no argument that he can win with her, and she’s way too bossy.  She is a clumsy cook, indulging in odd dishes.  Although he appreciates her apple pies, he doesn’t understand why she devoted years to master that one recipe but only recently started making more than one-dish meals and convenient meals .

He heaves another sigh as the rain splatter falls harder against the panes like teardrops of disappointment.  He looks out into the soggy world and dreams of running away to the Philippines where the women are plenty, and they know how to love a man.  Women there spend their days waiting for their men to come home, and the food is plentiful.  A man there is lord of his castle.  No more getting up in the mornings and pouring his own cup of coffee.  In the Philippines, his breakfast is served to him.  No more sharp orders for him to clean up after himself.  In the Philippines there would be no sharp orders unless they are from him.  He can order seafood everyday – lobsters for only a dollar apiece.  That would be nice.

The rain continues to fall.  The man is called out of his daydream.

“The coffee is made, come get some.”

“Yes, Dear.”

“Would you like some some melons with your breakfast?”

“Yes, Dear.”

“Come get it.”

“Yes, Dear.”

“Bob, what is wrong with you today?”

“Nothing.”

“Nothing my butt!”

“You don’t talk right.”

“I talk perfectly well.”
  
“I wish you sound more Asian, act more Asian.”

“Me no English.”

“Helen, not like that.”

“Me still no English.”

Sighhhh

“Bob, could you stop all the sighing?”

“Sorry, Helen, I was just wishing that you could be more exciting.”

“Like how?”

“You know that Russian woman at church?  She and her husband met through the internet, and he brought her over to the US.”

“And?”

“And I was just wishing that you were something like that.”

“I am something like that.  Call me your Immigrant Wife.”

“But you don’t act like one.”

“Exactly!  I am the successful immigrant.  I have catapulted pass the looking like one and acting like one.”

“You are not understanding me.  I want the gentle, and serving woman.”

“Okay…  Give me back your plate and coffee mug.  You stay here.  I will go into the kitchen and come back out with a new plate and hot coffee for you.  Just wait a minute and then call my name.”

One minute later…

“Helen!”

“Coming Bob!  Here’s your breakfast.  And coffee.”

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome, Dear.”

(Sex may sell, but so do false advertisement.)

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Chocolate

I shouldn’t hate anything because it’s sinful to hate, but I can’t help but hate chocolate. I don’t like chocolate. It’s sticky, it’s gooey, it stains, it hurts my teeth. It’s sweet, it’s dark, it’s unpleasant to my taste buds.

“Mama. Why don’t you like chocolate?” my children asked.

“Because, ” I tell them, “No one won a war against the communists by eating chocolate and sweets.”

“Huh?” they said.

“Mommmmm! That’s ridiculous!”

“That’s the truth,” I said, and they are unconvinced.

But what do my children know about war and the ways of war? They are born in American, standing on constitutional rights, living in cushioned comforts, sitting on the lap of luxury, and enjoying the security of safety nets. If someone tramples on their rights, the ACLU is there. If they are incarcerated, a free lawyer is afforded to them. They live in a huge Victorian, gingerbread house for free. Their meals are free. Their needs are met and more, and on top of that, they get free money to spend on themselves. And when their parents die, they are entitled to an inheritance. They are living the blessed lives that all children are entitled to. They have no concept of hunger – desperate hunger- and especially the desperate, dying hunger of a starving, war-torn country. They have no clue as what it feels like to live a real nightmare. For them, terrible things like war, bombs, killings, dead bodies, desperation, chaos are only in the movies. Those things are as unreal to them as the Greek myths, and they only happen in another time, in another world.

But once upon a time, in another world, I grew up in a country torn apart by civil war. I was born the in the year when the war was near ending, and battles were still raging. My mother remembered the bombings, and the desperate searches to locate her daughter, and the bizarre safe-havens that she found her daughter in. Angels my mother said. It could only be angels that knew where the bombs would land, and only angels could have covered me when shrapnel, debris, concrete, or anything could have ended me there in Vietnam. We were living in Saigon, and there were days when some mastermind must have gone mad with the bombing campaigns – the bombings seemed like last ditch efforts to win the war by simply killing everyone. The logic must have been that if everyone were killed, then there wouldn’t be any enemies left. Anytime, anywhere, people could be doing anything when the bombs fell. No one knew what would happen to them. Life and death – the ending of one and beginning of another – sometimes happened so quickly that people never knew that they had died. And other times, people heard the planes coming, the bombs raining down, and they had time to taste fear and feel death. No one knew their fate until the earth stopped rumbling and wailing sounds of grief arose. Then would they know if they survived or not. If they survived, they would be the desperate ones searching and calling out for loved ones. If they were dead, they could look down and see their own body. Many times, my mother could have lost me, but she has found me under a car, under concrete slabs, and, one time, in a strange house. She couldn’t explain how a toddler could have found shelter so quickly and so unexpectedly.

The Americans tried to help, and even with their help, the south lost. The communists won. In ’74 my whole family escaped on a boat. They made it to America – everyone, except my grandmother, my mother, and me. And it was my fault. I was in the hospital with a potentially fatal illness. My mother couldn’t leave without me, and my grandmother refused to leave without my mother. Despite all the protests and the pleadings, my grandmother refused to leave as long as she had a child left in Vietnam. So she stepped off the boat and stayed behind. And I think I remember that hospital stay. My earliest memory, a very young memory, was when I was in a hospital. I remember waking up one night in an empty room. I was on a padded mattress, and was surrounded by a square enclosure of steel bars that must have been a crib. I was young enough to wear diapers ,and my cloth diaper was wet and cold. I knew that my diaper was wet and cold, but I couldn’t find the words to say it. I was too scared and confused by the strange surrounding and the sounds of Vietnamese voices. By the doorway were women in white uniform, speaking hushed voices about my medical condition. I didn’t understand what they were saying said, but I knew that they were talking about me. Their discussion was brief and they left quickly without looking in on me. If they had bothered to just walk into the room and peek into my crib, they would have seen me awake, wet, and cold. But they didn’t, and so I remember that lonely night when my diaper was wet and cold.

Because of me, we were stuck in Vietnam when everyone was trying to leave. My grandmother, who chose not to leave, was the mother to me. My mother came and went and I don’t even have a memory of her during those years. Those were the years that I remember as the “Grandma and me” years. Those were the years when my grandma showed me a fighting spirit. We may have the lost the war, but the personal and private battles continued. The communists may have taken the land, but they haven’t gotten us. We were to wait and leave Vietnam when the time came. And until then we resisted.

My grandma had money. I was told, later, that she stuffed all her money under a step. But we lived poor because everyone else was impoverished, and anyone could be a spy. We had a concrete home that was built before the war, but other than that, there were hardly anything left that spoke of wealth. Whatever she had, the soldiers stole. All the soldiers stole. They took her gold, they took her animals, the fruits and vegetables growing in her garden, and the cooked food off her table. And so grandma was careful, watchful and quick. And I was expected to keep my mouth closed, to keep my eyes and ears open, and to learn.

Grandma had a huge garden with high walls enclosing it. And a front gate made of corrugated sheet metal. Within her garden she grew fruits that I remember eating. She had huge papayas that horrified me with their thousands of black eyes that stared out when the fruit was opened. I remember the mangoes, the spiky fruits, the jack-fruits, and the sugarcane. We spent so many afternoons just sitting on the front steps of her concrete home, behind the metal gate, enjoying the fruits and listening for approaching footsteps on the other side of the gate.

And one afternoon, as my grandmother and I sat on the steps to eat a meal, we heard someone approaching the gate. Grandma got up quickly to hide our cooked chicken under the false bottom of the salt barrel, pinched some salt, and returned to me. I watched her return and sprinkle salt in her rice bowl, and then sprinkle the rest on my own rice bowl.

“Eat,” she said. “It will make you grow.”

And I ate the salty rice. It was white rice with a salty, grit taste.

The stranger went through our gate without knocking. He was a soldier. He stood before us with an authority to anything he pleased.

“Grandmother, could I kindly have a bowl of rice?” he asked.

“Have a bowl with us, son. We have little rice, but plenty of salt.”

My grandma’s body slowly got up, and she slowly hobbled her weak frame to the soldier and handed him a bowl of rice with salt.

“Grandmother, why are you eating rice with salt when I smell fried chicken?” the man asked.

“My son, you came too late.” Grandma cried. “If you had been here earlier, then maybe you could have saved our chicken dinner for us. Two soldiers came by an hour ago and took our dinner. I begged them to leave me enough rice to cook another meal for me and my granddaughter.”

“I would never steal from an old woman,” the man said.

He finished the bowl of rice, thank my grandma, and left us in peace. And we continued to eat our rice and salt. I don’t remember eating the rest of that chicken, but the rice and salt was memorable. And so was the lesson.

Eat rice and salt, it will make you grow. Chocolates and sweets are wasteful and dangerous. Rich people are the only ones that can afford them. And if people knew that you have money, then the soldiers will come to rob you clean. Don’t touch chocolate, don’t accept chocolate, and don’t bring home chocolate. Chocolates can only come from American soldiers. And if people knew that you have chocolate, then everyone will think that you have worked with Americans – you are spying for the Americans now. Everyone is watching everyone else, and anyone can be informants for the communists. Touch chocolate and you will only have stirred suspicion and envy amongst your neighbors, and you will call attention to yourself. The communists have already taken the land and they will take you next. Don’t touch the chocolate.

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