Valentine’s Day: Let’s Live for
My beloved friends!
Valentine’s Day is here once again. I recall that on this day the 14th
February last year, I landed in Saigon. Former Pearl of the Far East!
The city was awash with vehicles, people and noise…Riding pillion on a
motorbike driven by a nephew, my sister’s son, from a house on Cach
Mang Thang Tam Street (formerly known as Le Van Duyet Street to Vo Thi
Sau Street (formerly Hien Vuong Street) with intentions of handing over
some cash sent from a cousin in Melbourne to her relative. However, the
motorbike kept getting caught in traffic jams. My nephew either had to
turn back or run around in another direction. That evening on this
Valentine’s Day, young boys and girls of Saigon, swarmed out from all
directions into the streets. Some to have a night out, some to go to the
movies, listen to music or sing karaoke, others to wine and dine, have a
coffee, or have a beer in the company of a girl, and some to watch the
Cai Luong (Reformed Theatre). There was a ‘real’ overseas Vietnamese
songstress, Huong Lan (Sweet Orchid), who was the principal artiste.
There was no doubt that her fragrance was enough to attract the largest
crowd of people, judging from the five rows of motorbikes ranged on the
pavements of the streets as far as a kilometre back. One wonders if
after such noisy goings-on in the streets, Saigonese young people were
able to have romantic romps away from prying eyes.
My beloved friends!
Valentine’s Day has again returned. But the sadness for human kind and
for the majority of people like us Vietnamese is that they dare not live
“for love, by love and because of love.” We do not dare to live and
be true to our own hearts. We do not dare to live according to our
beating hearts—throbbing to such an extent that our heartbeat is
erratic and going beserk. Why so?
We have ‘freely’ let ourselves be shackled to the chains of the
past. We have ‘freely’ left ourselves with eyes closed to follow our
forefathers—without questioning, without so much as a query.
The writer, Lang Nhan Phung Tat Dac, who is over 90 years old and
presently living in England, wrote somewhere:
“The whole world is searching for freedom, but very few people
realize that gaining freedom is just like conquering a beautiful woman,
because having conquered her, you find that you are overwhelmed and
upset in the same way as you feel in craving for freedom...let alone the
fact that, deep down everyone of us cherishes the things that tie us
down. That is the general contradiction that appeals to us all. Over
time, we are only links in a chain, a bead in the endless string of
humanity. The habits bequeathed to us by our forefathers: getting
dressed, cooking meals, walking, standing, lying down, sitting, trying
to express sadness, happiness, smiling etc. we in fact unintentionally
follow the path of our forebears, in a quiet and docile way …[Truoc
Den (Before the Lamp) Page 132].
In my opinion, there are many traditional values which need to be
re-assessed, to be placed once more in their proper perspective, in
order to fit in with the thinking of this era. So, who is the one to
tell us into what mould we should fit? Is there anything that can be
deemed as fit and proper at all times, for all occasions and all places.
In our lifetime we have the capacity to think for ourselves, to re-think
our thoughts and beliefs that we feel are proper, so that we can adapt
to new circumstances and new realities, and not to take a backward step.
Of course, we can tell ourselves that we must uphold those principles
that we cherish, but there are very few principles in the world that are
considered fixed and unchangeable. If we personally give birth to it,
then as a matter of course we can change it .
We can see things from different angles. We experience different things
in life, therefore we have different perceptions. This is the most
natural thing on Earth. Who can foresee the things in our lives? Who
knows? Que sera, sera! You think something is right, but soon after find
it wrong. You think you are in love, but not long afterwards you feel
hate. A hatred so bitter that, for that matter, you treat each other as
arch-enemies. Stories of old tell that there were four or five blind
fortune-tellers lazing around and chatting on the pavement, when they
heard that an elephant was approaching, they pooled their money in order
to be allowed to touch the elephant. Their reasoning was that in this
life, one hundred times of hearing is not comparable to seeing, and one
hundred times of seeing is not comparable to touching. After touching
the elephant’s trunk one of them said: “It feels like a leech”,
but another said of the elephant’s leg: “It feels like a pillar of a
temple”. Another said of the elephant’s ear: “It feels like a
fan” while some were convinced that the elephant was nothing but “a
worn-out broom”, on touching its tail and hide.
On Valentine’s Day, a close friend of mine of my teenage years, has
voluntarily yielded to living for love. From California in the USA he,
without any hesitation, sent me these lines:
“ I kneel before you asking for every breath of your body,
And bury myself in you and die passionately in the midst of love…”
Now, may I ask who else among us, particularly the fair sex, would agree
to bury yourself and passionately die in the midst of love? Is there
anyone out there?
Please let me know. My phone number is …