Letter to M. #1

Dearest M.

I was out in the evening with my mother and I thought of you. The thought of you being here with me has never been gone. And with time as its strongest armor, that thought has put me through the sweetest torture I can ever imagine.

So, what’s up? Still good? Still pouring your heart out in all the poems and weird yet good stories? As I said, I would love to read your new works, but nevermind that now. After all, seeing you again is still a better bargain for me.

Hey, have you ever marvelled at how beautiful life is? For example, like this short poem here:

Didn’t know she was still alive, my mother says.

Who? I ask, and see a brief change of time on my mother’s face.

The brief change of time that destroy all the condominiums and office buildings

that are starting to surround the city

like lead poison.

The brief change of time that brings back piece by piece,

brick by brick,

dust by dust,

the neighborhood that my mother grew up in.

It certainly was not a happy neighborhood

as a pain expression clouds my mother’s face.

She was my friend’s mother, she says,

I wonder where all my friends are now: they all suffered a war

that they took no part in and never wished for.

It’s better than father’s friend, I tell her,

they all died.

Is it really better? My mother says.

There was a slight quivering undertone as if she meant to say

That I was wrong.

That nothing is ever better than death.

That suffering a war is, sometimes, not an honor.

Is war an honor? If it were not, why did so many leaders choose to start it?

My mother didn’t answer. She was lost

in the neighborhood where no one grew up to be happy.

Didn’t know she was still alive, my mother repeats.

And in that simple repetition, my mother brings back with her

the magic of life: we all suffered a war

and we all survived.

-Didn’t know she was still alive, Thanh Dinh-

I know it’s longer than it’s supposed to be but M., you have to forgive me. You know how I always, always, always drag the stories on and on. But yeah, I did meant to show you the magic of life.

The magic that says, No matter what we’ve been through, we will all survived.

I won’t say that life takes the better of us because life is, and always will be, taking the better of us. Neither will I follow Ernest Hemingway and his league in The Lost Generation. If we put luck on a scale to measure it out, I am sure I will be winning all over The Lost Generation. After all, I’m still alive.

Look at me. I’m being unfair. But what is fair, really?

M., will you one day look back in time, and be the one to say to me, eyes to eyes, Didn’t know you were still alive?

I hope you will. Just turn around, will you? Because I will always be here.

With love and regards,

T.D.

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