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A Local Encounter that Changed my Perspective - Ong Ôi

VIETNAM | Friday, 19 April 2013 | Views [203] | Scholarship Entry

I can still hear the crumpling of these same old pants.

The room-sized house kept on emitting a smell of freshly-made concrete, alongside an hint of old fish sauce.

The stooped grandma was stitching by the door, as a sentinel ready to warn the lame old man.

Every school child will know him.
The traditional pump-it up morning stop, long enough to grab delicious tongue-burning steamed rice pancakes at the nearby shop before heading towards education.

We got to know each other well, not because we were neighbors, but a twice-a-week Caucasian customer riding a lousy lady-style Chinese bike is hard to forget.

Each and every encounter did follow a rather similar ritual :
The time he drag himself to his atelier, which was in fact the oily-stained part of the room, I would have flip the bike upside-down, bring a few tools and finally be rudely pushed aside, only thanked by a couple of grunts.

There was something like a lament in his behaviour, or were there reproaches ?
A real man does it alone....

I knew that it was the signal for me to sit down and watch.

Each sip of bitter tea shout me out the same simple question :
« What's my Grandpa doing today ? »

Even now, I can't stop asking myself.
I don't quite remember when mine stopped working, but while I'm writing, he's surely not squatting over oil stains, repairing others punctures with a rusty saw and few handle less corkscrews.

And I don't want to think about it.
But he keep on making me think about it.
And each and every time I saw him, I thought about it.
And even now, each sip of tea...Raah.

So thanks Ông oi, what am I gonna do when I'll be old ?

Tags: Travel Writing Scholarship 2013

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