My grandma (my mom’s mom) just passed away a couple hours ago, Vietnam time Tuesday, December 14, 2010 at 08:21:42 PM ICT. I received a call from my cousin (gi 10’s son) Just notified my wife, and my sister. I don’t have plan of going back for a funeral, although I have mentioned to go back multiple times to attend the funeral. It’s sad, very sad.
As far as I can remember, I don’t re-call living with “ba ngoai’, I sent most if not all my first 10 years of life living with “ba noi” family. I love both my “noi” and “ngoai” family. The distance between “ba noi” house and “ba ngoai” house is not so far away, about 1 mile or so if I recall correctly, definitely walking distance, back then we don’t have much of an alternative transportation anyways, either walk or if wealthy then can ride a bicycle. Walking to “ba ngoai”‘s house sometime is an adventure, I re-call visiting ngoai very often and walking by myself. As I left “ba noi”‘s house, I can still remember both side of the road have water coconut trees and creek filled with high tide water.
Sometimes with lots of green vegetation. The road were all made of mud, dried mud that had been flattened by people walking on it. It’s not smooth, but very fragile, but the view of Vietnam country is beautiful. It’s not like this anymore when I was there back in late 2000s.
I need to cross over large water way, to get across I would need to walk over a small 2 pole bridge, which is next to impossible for a motorcycle to cross, and forget about car or horse. I believe we have a nick name for this type of bridge, it call “monkey bridge”. Sometime the water get high due to high tide, the bridge float away and only one to get across, that’s right – swim over the merky mud water, it’s not bad, weather here are tropical so it’s warm all night and day most of the time.
Sometime along the road I get lucky and found duck eggs and fish and crab, it’s a great treat to cook up fresh with rice. As I reached to “ba ngoai”‘s house, on the left side of the road entrance into the house, a small passage way into the house. The roof are made up of coconut tree dried leaves, and the wall are also thick dried coconut leaves as well, some part might be thin wood with opening crack 2-4 inches for air circulation, but no privacy, so these might be use for kitchen and living room maybe. There isn’t much valuable items at all at my “ba ngoai” house as far as I can tell, if they do, might be money hidden somewhere but nothing else valuable.
“Ba ngoai” I don’t know her exact name or exact age. My mom told me she was 93-94 but I thought she was 97. I believe she has a difficult life, I never got chance to see my grandpa or know what happen to him, my mom told me “ong ngoai” passed away a long time ago before I was born, however I thought I also heard that he left my “ba ngoai”, in any case, the person that I know is my “ba ngoai’. I don’t know anything about her past, as early as I can remember, she does peasant jobs for a living help support the family. She has many children, my mom is her youngest child, I think 9 children total. I remember she does many things to help out the family, she does fishing by hand, farming, grow a garden, even though she’s very old. I remember one of her finger got have to be amputated an inch due to gotten bitten by a poison fish while trying to catch fish. There was a few times that I remember she quilt a hammock from “cay lat” basically a handmade leafy hammock which take a lot of time to complete, I believe she does it to give as a gift to my “ong ba noi”, it wasn’t for sale I think.
“Ba ngoai” whenever I get a chance to have a meal with her, she would eat basically rice and a green Vietnamese chili, I don’t think its because her favorite but due to the little food that she have, she would rather letting me have the good food and be happy, this is different from many other families where the children suppose to give all the good food to the elder first. Her daily meal if I recall back correctly simply rice and green chilli, and off course rain water collected in a container. The fact is that chili or pepper have vitamins than any other fruits and vegetable.
I don’t have any pictures of “Ba ngoai”, I do have videos clips few years ago when I visited Vietnam.