During one of my many Spring Cleaning, I found a huge stack of papers I had to write for my Creative Writing classes. I wanted to share what I wrote and see how far along I have accomplished. Since I didn’t publish a book or novel yet, I still have a long way to go. I felt at the time that I jumped too much and that I didn’t have a flow of the scene.
The assignment was to write one particular scene from one perspective.
Enjoy this scene!
I live in the mountains of Long Cheng, Laos where the mountain stands tall and jungles of forest on a flat surface. All year long, the clouds would remain with us. We couldn’t dry the rice crop because we would never get any glimpse of the sun. So we use fire on our small ground surface inside our home, near our front entrance without a door to dry our rice. We prepared for food to be stored and then eat all year long.
Every morning is the same routine. By the sound of the roosters crowing I am awake along with my children, Dia, Xay, and Nia, to help out start the day with household chores before farming. Getting water from the nearby river, feeding the animals and help cook breakfast before our long two hour journey towards our farm. On our farm, we grow rice, corn, bananas, pineapples, a certain kind of pumpkin, and cucumbers. We would plant, cut out the weeds, then await for the crops to be ready for harvesting. Carrying each of the crops on our basket made of thick straws or wood, we travel on foot to our home in the village we live in.
My children work hard, sweating in perspiration. I sometimes feel guilty because I have nothing else to offer them to succeed in life. I have no money, no fresh clothes for them to wear, or any healthy food for them to eat. I have only the clothes I sewed and new ones that were sent from our extended family in America. My heart breaks from time to time, knowing how badly our situations are here in the village, Long Cheng.
I do not want to burden my family in America, because they might think that I am too needy and filled with greed. I don’t want them to worry or know how bad it is. It’s noon. As I sit here and think, I realized the sun has already set. Where has the time gone? I should have paid more attention to my kids. I know they are starving.
“Dia, tell your siblings to come and eat.”
“Okay mom…” She skips off to gather her siblings. “Mom said it’s time to eat. Come on Nia and Xay.”
“Do we have to help set up the food? The last time I helped, I got cut on my little finger,” Xay said sadly.
“Mom needs help Xay so come on and let’s get going.”
Always my little helper, my eldest daughter Dia. I love them deeply, with all my heart and the love that I give. Sadly, it pains me to see my sweet angels living life like me, struggling so much when they should be in school learning, like their relatives living beyond reach.
I cry at night when my children are asleep, I don’t want them to know how lonely I’ve been. I feel incomplete, since their father disappeared without a trace or a word to be hear from again. I sometimes wonder if Americans still remembers about the yellow rain and the Royal Lao Secret Army my husband served in by saving Americans during the Vietnam War. Visiting the past only brings pain, a war my family had endured, my children are all I have left.
Dia will soon be twelve, my son Xay nine and my last baby girl Nia, is only six years old. I feel lost. I do no know how to live, except to help save my children from starving. Since my husband’s disappearance, I am left with everything, the chores, the lovely kids, and the hardship that I must face each morning day.
Long Cheng is so lonely. Sadness overwhelms me because I have nothing to gain or to give, only our traditions and values that I have kept alive for so long from my parents. My sister, Mai Chue, in America expressed to me one day in a longer letter saying that her children are losing their Hmong culture and values, going out all night not coming home until late midnight morning. Mai tells me that her children do drugs, drinks alcohol, partying and constantly talking back with a smudge on their faces.
What does Mai have to complain about? She has everything in place! A house, cars, and kids with an education with great food to eat everyday. Has she lost the values of family and love? The kinship we have grown up with, passing it to our children? Has she no sense? Do I have to tell her about my plight? About my children’s needs and situations here in Long Cheng?
No, I didn’t think so. No matter how mad or somethings bitter I am towards Mai, hearing the same old story about her kids, I am grateful she hasn’t forgotten about my children or me living in this damn of a village. It hurts me to think about the difference between Mai and I, the luxury she is currently living in the United States with may opportunities.
I remain here, raising my kids all by myself, mending our clothes with whatever I have in hand and living life not knowing when I’ll be dead. Fearful that no one will look after my kids if and when I’m gone. It makes me cry even more, thinking that if I die today, what will become of my childrent?
“Mama, why are you crying?”
“Oh… Dia…” wiping my tears away, “I’m just said. I am wondering who will take care of all of you if I’m ever gone.”
“Mama, you don’t have to worry, I’ll take care of you. You know that I love you.”
“My little angel, how sweet of you to look out for me when it is I who should be looking out for you. Come on my children, let us go eat.”
We walk to our little lodge nearby, taking some of the items that Dia recently picked out for us to eat during our meal. Dia sets the plates on our little bamboo table, while I pull out the food that we packed earlier in the day and the two little children wash their hands readying themselves to eat.
My precious children, soon, I promise you that you all will have a better life than I. Only then you will be happy to live life to the fullest, instead of working hard all the time to survive. My husband, I pray that you are safe, even if you are missing; I believe you are watching how much turmoil we all have been through in the past year since your disappearance. I miss you, my dear husband. I pray you help us find a way through this life here in the mountains. My family in America, I pray that one day we will be reunited and come together to celebrate a new beginning.
“Mama, are you going to eat?” asked Dia.
“Yes Dia, I am, I certainly am.”
How much pride and joy I have for my kids, husband I will be so proud of them.