Stories of the Bru—A Bru discovers Brooklyn–Part 6

18 Jul



                                            Don’t tell me about strict parents

Dinner was late, as was expected. Mother looked a different word than tired. The woman was past fatigued. Remaining quiet, which was not unusual to my character, I lay in wait, as the tiger that brought my parents together when they were children.

“My angel, you look so sad.” Mother, using the strength remaining from a twelve- hour workday, tried to clear the table.

“Mother, I will do it. Please rest.” Her eyebrows stretched at my new name for her. Since our entrance into this country, mommy would be the lone description from my lips. Mrs. M, whom my mother kept house for, and I owed much, told me, you can neverhide anything from your mother. Our English lessons were filled with such observations.

She was correct. What could a teenage girl that sobbed if forced to sleep alone waiting for her mother to finish a late-shift, hide from the woman?

“Is there a problem at the school? Is someone bothering you? I will go to school.” She seemed revitalized with a threat upon her cub.

“Oh no, mommy.” I was sure to use the correct term. “Maria introduced me to so many nice people.” A deep breath, “respectful girls…and boys.” The last two words whispered.

I felt the conversation was progressing along as planned. Mother wanted us to use English as much as possible. She only reverted to Viet or our language…Quàngtri Vân Kiêu when speaking of the memories of Father or brother. Though extreme anger would also resurrect our dialect.

“That is nice. Are the boys here as respectful as in Fayetteville?” Our hometown in NC.

“Oh yes. There is a very polite boy…he is very mature and wants to succeed in life.” The moment of truth was approaching.

“Oh wonderful. That is so good to hear.” Mother continued to the bedroom, adjacent to the kitchen.

“There is a very important dance. And many of the students are going.” My voice raised an octave, or so I thought.

“Well, you can not attend. It would be too dangerous. Unescorted young ladies are always in danger. This is a bad City.”

There was the opening. I draw my sword and charged full speed ahead.

“This nice, respectful boy wants to take me as in a respectful escort way,” there was no time to breathe, “and he is very nice and he is polite,” out of breath fear took over. I stood silent looking at the bewildered face to my front.

“What?” She still spoke in English. Things were ok, so far.

“His name is Mario, he is very popular and all the teachers like him cause he is so polite and respect…” I was cutoff in Vietnamese.

“A boy wants to take you. Who is this boy? Where is he taking you?” Again a surge of energy spread through my mother. Her questions showed my previous preparation was wasted.

“It is the school prom. Maria’s sister is my size, I can use her prom dress from a couple of years…” I was cut off in my Bru Dialect. The shaking in my hands increased.

“What?” Her voice split me in half. “What has been going on? All this planning behind my back.” Her face tensed and deep snorts escaped from her spreading nose.

“Mommy…” My eyes remained downcast. Mother used physical violence as punishment only once in my life, and that time violent was the only description. It seemed after the event, I spent a month cuddled in her arms.

“No mommy this.” Our dialect filled the house.

“Tomorrow you will go to school and not speak to this boy.” A slim finger met my eyes as they gained the strength to look at her. “Tell this Maria,” my mother’s stressed face smoothed the wrinkles that dotted her expression. It was tightened from anger. “You tell her that she tell this boy,” her words were becoming clogged as they left her mouth, “you are not going. I forbid it.” She was not finished. I stood with the meekest stance possible. I could taste the salt from my tears as they ran onto quivering lips. “And after that, you do not talk to her anymore. You do not need any friends here.” She ripped her top off, her anger still seething.

“Mommy,” my stomach spasm did not interrupt the attempt to speak.

“Please, I just want to …” That was al I could say. I dropped to our bed, shaking the mattress with my coughing and crying.

“Baby,” the gentle hand was welcomed. But she was still speaking in our dialect. “I understand. I know you are growing so much. Mommy understands.” A kiss to my cheek halted the streams of liquid flowing over my face. Now, sobbing replaced the deluge.

“It is natural for you to feel these things. You are eighteen…at home you would be married.” Her fingers ran through the length of my hair. “I had my first child already.” Mother lost two children before I was born.

“But mommy?” At last I spoke. My breathing was retuning to normal.

“My precious child,” still in our language. “When the time comes, I will select a good husband for you. I will find a good family and we will discuss our children’s future.” Another kiss on the cheek, “please, this is how it must be done. The parents will decide…that is the best.” A short giggle from the woman, “fate…no…no…fate never works.”

I felt my own surge of energy. “But mommy? Father and you…remember how you met…the tiger…fate was the tiger.” The recollection of the incredible first meeting of my parents shook her confidence.

Stuttering for a moment, “well…that was wartime…things…ahh.” Then she stood up and pulled my chin upward. “Water Flower,” my name in Vietnamese. Maybe she was beginning to understand? Could it be? She understands that my heart is breaking? That I felt love for Mario, though it was still my secret?

“I have told you what to do tomorrow. I have told you how your marriage will be arranged.” It seems I was wrong.

The shock on my face froze any tears collecting in my lids.

“If you love me, you will obey. I have told you. I will not tell you again.” She slid under the sheet. It signaled the ending of the day. For me, it signaled the ending of so much more.


18 responses to “Stories of the Bru—A Bru discovers Brooklyn–Part 6

  1. Bodhirose

    July 18, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    Oh, I was afraid of this happening. It’s so hard to go against age-old customs–and yet, look at how she and her husband met… Why can’t she see? She’s afraid of losing her daughter to different ways isn’t she…

    Excellent, Jaye!

    • jgavinallan

      July 18, 2011 at 7:35 pm

      It was so complicated. If you know the other tales, you can sympathize with what “her” poor mother has already gone through.
      It would be easy to say—or for me to write…how she stood up for herself and did what she(the girl) thought was right to do.
      It is easy to write such things…much easier than to do it…breaking the heart of someone whom you(the young girl) was so very close to…and whom you shared incredible conflict and sadness with.
      hugs to everybody…I feel that way today.

  2. Bodhirose

    July 18, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    Yes, I suppose it is complicated. It’s easy for me here “on the outside” to not understand the very difficult circumstances that they have had to go through together–a tight, tight bond is there…

    I respect your feelings.

    Warm hugs for you,

    • jgavinallan

      July 18, 2011 at 7:49 pm

      It is like you can read my thoughts…and I hope you can…I do not mind
      Great friend…and colleague…that joint book signing is getting closer…I can feel it.
      xoxo Hugs

  3. Bodhirose

    July 18, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    You are the sweetest–thanks so much.

    Gayle xoxo

    • jgavinallan

      July 18, 2011 at 9:41 pm

      And you are the talentest…hehehe—i’m online now

  4. liv2write2day

    July 19, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    This is such a painful part of growing up and it must be even harder in a different culture. She is so very vulnerable and you’ve portrayed it well.

    • jgavinallan

      July 19, 2011 at 9:09 pm

      Victoria…thank you so very very much for understanding and seeing the pain…

  5. thepetalpusher

    July 21, 2011 at 11:53 am

    Parents from the “old country” are tough–I should know! I really felt the young girl’s emotions here. Well, well-done, Jaye.

    • jgavinallan

      July 21, 2011 at 11:57 am

      Yes, the emotion was like having your chest ripped open. I know it sounds dramatic, but at the time…it was so hurtful. The poor girl loves her mother soooo much. They survived so many things…that they could not have lived through with out each other…and now…they are hurting each other…

  6. Inside the Mind of Isadora

    July 21, 2011 at 5:47 pm


    There are so many dynamics going on here that are making this story so intriguing. The push of independance for her while she has the pull of her love and devotion for her Mother. Her peers, her friends and other influences are creating an independence that, even, she doesn’t understand because she has been so close to her Mother. Yet, the traditions are part of who she is because she has been raised with them. This struggle is drawing the reader to want to continue reading to see what happens.

    Nicely Done …!!!!
    Namaste, Isadora

    P.S. I was just released from the hospital and am mending so I will catch up on your other writings soon. KEEP WRITING …!!!!

    • jgavinallan

      July 21, 2011 at 6:10 pm

      forget the usual reply…I am sending an e mail right now…

  7. Maureen

    July 27, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    I really like your writing. It seems that you use the smallest amount of words to convey the deepest feelings and descriptions. I don’t know how you do it, but the end result is reading that you can’t turn away from, no matter how hard the events being written about. Thanks for sharing with us.

    • jgavinallan

      July 27, 2011 at 5:51 pm

      Thank you so very much…I am happy you understand my hope as I write.
      Thanks again…I wish you enjoy other storie…also

  8. Jingle

    July 28, 2011 at 1:38 am

    descriptive words, you are such a talent story teller. wow.

    • jgavinallan

      July 28, 2011 at 1:56 am

      Thank you…I may be a story teller…but sometimes I get too involved with my characters…part 7 has become a chore to write…I feel so much for her(lot of conflict going on)
      Thank you for your time
      PS: For a change of pace…try “A scene from an unfinished work”…little bit different…lol

  9. Spectra

    July 29, 2011 at 2:16 am

    Well, Jaye, another brilliant, emotionally alarming story…what will happen? There is such closeness, but she is 18, and in this country, the age where girls are already making their own decisions, from boyfriends to what college to attend, to what course of study, to how to work their hair, etc. This girl is living in the USA, but in her mind, still living in the Viet…well done.

    Just added you to my blog roll. A great compliment, as I rarely add anyone. But I wrote your Link in a more personal, descriptive way, calling it Jayes Short Stories. If’ you’d like me to change that, let me know. Was just going for simple and descriptive…

    • jgavinallan

      July 29, 2011 at 3:33 am can call it whatever you want.
      I can see that you understand the problem of the situation for daughter and mother.
      You see, for almost the girl’s entire life…the two have been very close…and for about 7 years…the horror that they went through and heart brake made them very dependent on each other. Part 7 has been a chore for me to write…but it will be done next week. Thank you for your subscription…thanks so very much
      PS: Happy Birthday…


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