VIETNAM: My Beloved Nation, the Up-Surging Phoenix from the Scorching Day of 30 April 1975
Hoang Huu Phuoc, MIB
Vietnam is my beloved country. Without his/her own country, one resembles an eternally wandering homeless soul. I am over-proud to be a Vietnamese, of course not from any blind patriotism. It is the home even Death can never detach my heart from – even with his powerful bloody scythe. It can be good. It can be not so good. It can be bad. It can be not so bad. And only lazy blokes, who sit still in the dark corners of mosquito-habitation cafes with legs senselessly jerking underneath the cheap small tables shouldering upon themselves glasses with or without ice-cubes patiently waiting for drop by drop of dubious-quality coffee falling from tiny holes of cheap percolators, curse the negative, if any, and the wrong, if any, and the one-thousand-and-one bad-and-worse-and-worst, if any, of this country the name of which has incorporated within its very self the meaning of pride and honour and efforts and valour and volition, all up surging from real blood, true ashes, and factual heroic deeds.
I was born in Saigon, and ever since my first day to welcome life and life to welcome my coming-into-being have not relocated my residence elsewhere in this world. On that eventful day of 30 April 1975, my parents were calm enough to advise their children to sit down on the floor, patiently waiting for a peaceful apocalypse to come. I sat near the closed window, thinking of whether my sweat heart Dinh Thi Mai Tram was still there at her home on Chi Lang Street of Gia Dinh, Saigon, or already followed the terrified and terrifying people rushing to the Saigon ports to flee the country by waterways to the unfriendly open sea. I did not have any thought of fear. Just a simple happiness to be safe with the family and to witness the ending of the war which gnawed at the bones and was soaked with blood of almost all my friends who were not as lucky as I was in successfully completing studies for universities and thereupon had to join the collapsing patched-up army of Nguyen Van Thieu the desperado, just to lay down for good on battlefronts on their very first days in operation, with rifles held firm in the thin hands accustomed to holding pens to compose fervid poems of love and hope and desire to live a decent life in peace, not war.
Hoang Huu Phuoc with his students at Tao Dan Park, Hochiminh City, June 1975. (Upon the liberation, most teachers and school owners in Saigon fled the country, leaving schooling institutions unmanaged. The communist liberators requested help from “young intellectuals” and Hoang Huu Phuoc actively positively responded to first protect the District 3′s Tan Viet High School properties from looters and then teach tenth and eleventh grade classes for free for some months until the revolutionary authorities could appoint headmasters to reorganize the official school year continuity).
My family had no one being cadre or member of the Communist Party who led the liberation of South Vietnam to a final triumph. But we are proud of being Vietnamese and this pride has helped our family to stand firm against the vicissitudes a country at war and in its post-war era could bring and create. At the time the unified Vietnam suffered untold hardship from the US embargo, whenever I went abroad I proudly attached the Vietnam’s flag on my luggage and various items. I was upset to be advised by senior leaders of State corporations who were of course communist party members that I should remove such flag to avoid problems from overseas anti-communist Vietnamese in Thailand and other “capitalist” countries. I did not say anything, simply proving I respected them the elders and the VIPs, but I never took their advice. The Vietnam’s flag must be with me, wherever I go in this triple we (www, or the wild wide world).
Until now I am an outsider to the Communist Party of Vietnam. All my efforts to get its membership were spoilt by the management of any academic institution or trading or servicing companies I worked at, at seeing my becoming a communist could endanger their senior positions. I was such a great haunting to them. However, I have never railed against my country and its government and the Communist party, simply because I understand very well that the disastrous war did not provide sufficient time for these senior cadres to properly study and be educated of Confucius’ philosophy – beside Marxism-Leninism and President Ho Chi Minh’s teaching – for a proper awareness of social responsibilities, national responsibilities, and patriotic responsibilities. What I can do is to encourage my brother and my sisters and my child to strive to be communists themselves, for having a proper saying in favour of the nation of Vietnam, the only country of my only nationality. We go global on a boat. We cannot go global with one leg in a boat and the other leg in another boat. That is the work of circus people. The only music I could listen to includes the Western Country music and Hard Rock. Frankly, I must say folk-songs, music of the South during the war – Trinh Cong Son’s not excluded, and the present-day music of Vietnam are not of my tastes. I write everything and compose poems in English. But all these do not mean anything against my pride of being a Vietnamese citizen in this globalized world.
If this country is still immersed in undesirable problems, I can say the blaming could be on me personally, for unsuccessful contribution to make it better.
Vietnam is my country, and I am proud to be a righteous Vietnamese.
Hoang Huu Phuoc