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POETRY/THƠ

Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm | 40 years exiled (93)

40 years exiled, 40 years a refugee, 40 years upon the land of my adopted country. 40 years, and I have been loved.

By Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm

Forty years marked by the passing of Shani, my joy, my canine best friend. What makes it more poignant than to live a life of pure love and joy. I often forget my place in the universe, but she is the one who has reminded me of who I am, my place in the world. I am 50, and I am the 10 years old of 40 years ago in her eyes. I am playful, I’m no longer the lonely 10 years old on a beach at the refugee camp in Thailand.

How would one note one’s life in the flicker of eye lashes, through the tears, the years in passing. My then 30 year old parents, now grandparents to successful adult grandchildren, have adopted Shani too into their family. Shani, insistence on popping in to see my parents through Covid-19, her stubbornness the joy in a moment of my parents through their window. 

What would break the human spirit, the hopelessness of never being whole again, the homelessness, the exile, the foreign places one could never belong. But, I did for a short time. I belong to her, I was her trainee, I learned not to fear the darkness around me, I learned how great it was to get caught in the wet, walk in the rain, though she believed me to be crazy wanting to tread through an eminent thunder storm. No one could wish for a better companion, a guardian angel through the darkest storms. 

I am paralysed with fear and grief upon my broken body and Shani walks through the door with her favourite ball. Bark at me for being so weak, bark at me for missing out on football on the pee bleached lawn – do you not know how great it smells out there in the world, there’s not a single shadow of a cloud! 

40 years exiled, 40 years a refugee, 40 years upon the land of my adopted country. 40 years, and I have been loved.

By Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm

There's magic in translating a body of work from one language to another.

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