Memories of a Vietnamese Sailor #7

Discussion in 'The VMBB True Story Tellers' started by Guest, Feb 26, 2003.

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    (6/12/01 12:52:09 pm)
    | Del All Memories of a Vietnamese Sailor #7
    Part 3: One morning, my childhood buddy and I were on
    a "star fruit" tree when we saw two T28 swooping very
    low overhead; we were quite scared. Then the
    explosions came and smoke was pillowing up from the
    general direction of the presidential palace. We then
    heard triple A went off (we did not know what it was
    then). It later turned out to be that Pham Phu Quoc
    and Nguyen Van Cu was bombing the presidential palace
    (Diem and his brother.) A gunboat mooring on Saigon
    River shot down Quoc's plane; Cu escaped to Cambodia.
    Quoc was put in jail and then released after Diem's
    regime felt and he resumed flying. Quoc was later
    shot-down in North Vietnam territory and assumed to be
    KIA. I then witness a several coup-d'etats: Diem and
    his brother were killed, Big Minh, General Phat,
    General Khanh, and others came and went. I
    participated in a couple of anti-Diem demonstrations.
    I was in high school and I disagreed with Diem's
    treatment of Buddhism so I registered my disagreement
    by joining the group; yeah, pepper grenades tasted
    awful. During this time I gradually learned that the
    quarrel between North Vietnam and South Vietnam was an
    ideology quarrel between communist and democracy. I
    also learned that South Vietnam leaders are a bunch of
    self-centered jerks and liars. This included
    religious leaders; some of them later turned out to be
    outright underground commies or communist

    As I mentioned earlier, my family did not have any
    experience with communism, they were born in the
    North, so their hearts almost always looked to the
    North (they were not and are not communist). I had
    many lively, to put it mildly, discussions with my
    father and his friends about my dislike for communist.
    I remember at one point I was so fed-up with their
    hearts looking to the North so I cited a
    Chinese/Vietnamese proverb "If you are eating fruits
    from a tree, you must take care of it, you must
    protect it. I am eating fruits from the trees
    growing from South Vietnam and now North Communist
    wants to take over the trees, it's my obligation to
    protect them, to fight for them". My father and his
    friends became dead silent because I quoted the phrase
    that they preached and taught us, from that time on;
    they never brought up the issue nor did they discuss
    it in my presence. By the way, my uncle was a
    lieutenant colonel in the North Vietnamese Army who
    passed away before the war started. I never met him,
    the only thing I knew about him was he sent a postcard
    to my father in 1952 or 1953.

    One day, my mom came rushing to me with a terrifying
    look on her face and informed me that American bombers
    bombed North Vietnam the day before (I believe the
    Maddox incidence preceded it). I just said "oh,
    really" but deep inside I felt that it was necessary.
    I do sound cynical but that is what I felt. They
    (commies) wanted to take over South Vietnam so they
    deserved to be stopped and bombed. My mother was so
    fearful of being bombed by North Vietnam airplanes but
    I assured her that it was impossible for them to fly
    all the way from Ha Noi to Saigon.

    DangPart 4: During my high school years I did both very
    well and very poorly. I had to take an entrance exam
    to get into public school. I must say this: some
    applicants were guaranteed to pass the exam by virtue
    of their family's social, political, or economic
    standing. The school only accepted 350 or so new
    students annually. I came in second amongst many
    thousands contestants (bragging bragging). I even got
    a token financial scholarship from the government. My
    family was so proud of me. Great! But then I got
    kicked out of this school after the second year for
    tardiness and . fighting with other kids. My father
    had to bribe the school principal to accept me back.
    I felt tremendously guilty about it because I knew
    that the bribed monies were my family's food, rice,
    vegetable, and fish monies (we could only afford meat
    twice a month, too expensive).

    I then did quite well in school because of this
    incidence and another and that is: I got in a fight
    with two sons of the "Chief Financial Officer" of the
    company that my father worked for (how ironic, my
    current working title is CFO). The fight was nothing
    but the CFO and his wife came to my little hut that
    was made out of an old garage (we all lived in a
    compound provided by the French employer located in a
    very wealthy district of Saigon) and started yelling
    at my parents. I started to jump at them but my
    father ordered me to sit still. My parents took the
    verbal assault and abuse from them without firing back
    an insult. Actually my mother was sobbing and my
    father was taking everything from them with
    intermittent apologies. After they left, I cried and
    asked my father why he did not react or fire back
    insults. My father then told me: Son, when you can
    take this type of verbal assault and insult with a
    smile, you have become a man. Deep inside, I think my
    father also wanted to protect his job because that CFO
    had the tenacity and ability to pull some strings to
    have my father fired. I just can't imagine a man
    without a job with 10 mouths to feed. To this date, I
    still haven't learned this particular lesson from my
    beloved father. So I guess, I am yet becoming a man.
    One phrase that the CFO and his wife told my parents
    and I still carry it with me: Your son (me) got
    accepted to so and so school by luck (their oldest son
    also attended that school), let's see how well the son
    of a chauffer will do in school. This statement made
    my blood boil.

    An Thoi/69-71

    (To be continued.........)