. Tên thật : Trần Thị Thu Vân .
. Chào đời tại Huế, lớn lên tại Sài Gòn.
. Trước 1975 sinh sống tại Đà Lạt.
. Hiện đang ở San José, Californie, USA.


. Nước Chảy Qua Cầu (Bút Ký)
. Gã Cùi và Miếng Dừa Non (tập truyện)
. Một Truyên Dài Không Có Tên (I, II - tâm bút)
. Nhật Nguyệt Buồn Như Nhau (I, II -tự truyện)
. Tài Hoa Mệnh Bạc (I, II, III, biên khảo tiểu sử danh nhân)
. Trần Sa (tự truyện)
. Tài Hoa và Cô Đơn Như Một Định Mênh (tuyển tập tâm bút)
. Con Tằm Đến Thác Vẫn Còn Vương Tơ (tuyển tập tâm bút)
. Điệu Múa Cuối Cùng Của Con Thiên Nga (I, II, tuyển tập tâm bút)
. River of Time (bản Anh ngữ của Nước Chảy Qua Cầu, Trần Thy Hà chuyển dịch)

Tranh của cố họa sĩ Tạ Tỵ

If the road still stretches ahead, Where will it turn?

(Trần Thy Hà chuyển ngữ "NƯỚC CHẢY QUA CẦU" )


Trần Thị Bông Giấy was born in Huế, Central Việt-Nam, and grew up in Sàigòn, capital of the Republic of Việt-Nam.

Graduated as a violinist from the National Conservatory of Music in 1967; and B.A. in Literature from the University of Arts in 1972, she had performed with numerous orchestras and bands in Việt-Nam as a violinist before and after 1975. She moved to Paris, France with her family in 1982, and then to San Jose, California in 1986.

Her first novel in Vietnamese, River Of Time, was first published in 1989, documenting her music tours in Việt-Nam and life in Paris. This work has readily inspired deep appreciation in many readers worldwide.

Since then, she has been the Editor in Chief of Văn-Uyển Magazine, a Vietnamese quarterly literary magazine. She has also written and published 14 more books afterward.

The author is now living quietly with her unique daughter in San Jose, California.


Trần Thy Hà was born and raised in Sàigòn of Southern Việt-Nam. She moved to California in 1988 at the age of eleven and began to take private piano lessons from the author shortly afterward. As one of the best students, she appreciates the author’s artistry. This led to the translation project of River Of Time in 1996, and Hà finished the translation a year later at the age of twenty.

She earned a B.S. in Chemistry from the University of San Francisco in 1999 and was a recipient of the university’s Mel Gorman Scientific Award. Since graduation, she worked abroad in London and performed research in phosphate and oxygen distribution in the Northwest Atlantic through an oceanography program by Sea education Association and Woods Hole Oceanography Institute.

She currently works in clinical data management at Clinimetrics and resides in San Jose, California.


Mark Berkson received his B.A. from Princeton University, his M.A. from the Center for East Asian Studies at Stanford University, and his Ph. D. from Stanford’s Department of Religious Studies, where he wrote a dissertation entitled “Death and the Self in Ancient Chinese Thought: A Comparative Perspective.” He has taught at Stanford University and the University of San Francisco, where he was the 1997-98 Kiriyama fellow at the Center for the Pacific Rim. He has also published and presented papers on topics including classical Chinese thought, comparative religious ethics, and interfaith dialogue. He is currently Assistant Professor of Religion at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he specializes in Asian religions and comparative religion.


The United States has gone through many stages in its attempt to come to terms with the legacy of the Việt-Nam War. In the immediate aftermath of the war, there was disbelief, anger, fingerpointing and grief. Then, for a while, there was silence. The pain of confrontation was repressed, delayed --but it could not be eliminated.

In order for healing to take place, we had to begin the processes of both individual soul-searching and a collective national conversation on Việt-Nam.

First in a trickle, then a torrent, writers and filmakers began to struggle with the issue of the war. Particularly through the medium of film, the issue was once again raised in public consciousness. The silence was replaced by dark, often wrenching films, The Deer Hunter, Coming Home, Platoon, Full Metal Jacket, each in their own way trying to struggle with the meaning of the war and its aftermath. For the most part, however, the pens and the cameras have belonged to Americans. We have never really heard the stories, the poems, and the cries of the Vietnamese people. As great a physical and psychic toll as the war took on the United States, the suffering of the Vietnamese was immeasurably greater. Its land, the precious earth from which the Vietnamese draw food and strength, is still pock-marked with craters, filled with mines and slowly recovering from the assault of poisons. Over a million people, many of them noncombatants, were killed. Prosthetic limbs are a common sight. And yet we have not really heard the people of Việt-Nam speak.

There is still another problem. To most Americans, "Việt-Nam" means "The Việt-Nam War". Because Việt-Nam has always been an object to us, a painful part of our story, its relevance is usually seen in terms of the twenty years of violence and mutual distrust that marked the relationship from the 1950's to the 1970's.

However, even if we see Việt-Nam simply in terms of war, we must realize that the Việt-Nam war was a war that extends back to the 50 years struggle with the French that began in the mid-19th century, and still further back to Việt-Nam's ongoing attempt to preserve its own identify in the face of a Chinese influence that was, by turns, philosophical, political, cultural and often military. In the words of one scholar, it has been a "2,000 year struggle".

Although war has had an enormous impact on Việt-Nam, Việt-Nam is much more than a battleground, a fact that many Americans are only beginning to discover. It is a country with a history of its own, a culture that has produced beautiful poetry and literature, and as we learn from the author, a musician able to bring notes to life through written words, rich traditions of music and opera.

Việt-Nam is also land, rice paddies and bustling cities, farmland and villages. And most of all, it is its people. People who are both in Việt-Nam rebuilding their country and their lives; and people who are scattered across the globe feeling, in varying degrees, either like citizens of new lands or an exiled people still waiting to return home. In order to understand, we must begin listening to their voices. Trần Thị Bông-Giấy's is a beautiful voice with which to begin this journey. Her perspective is shaped by time spent in three places, three cultures intertwined in a tragic story, now struggling to find reconciliation, Việt-Nam, France and the United States. Trần Thị Bông Giấy is an author who doesn't spend much time on explicit political statements, diatribes, arguments or theory. She is very much a writer of the particular and concrete, not the general and abstract.

Here is an intimate journal of meals shared and concerts remembered, of conversations, images, personal encounters --open this journal and both Việt-Nam and France come to you in all of their sights, sounds, textures and smells. She brings to us numerous people whose lives have been shaped, in many different ways, by the conflict. We see connections being made across cultural boundaries just as we see the divisions that still exist within them --Vietnamese, like Americans, still split passionately over the war. Her diary is filled with stories and characters that stay with the reader long after the book is put away.

The author's experience of Việt-Nam is particularly revealing, for she is describing the world she was away from for years and then returned to. There is an extra vividness that comes out of seeing one's old home with new eyes --it makes the experience both richer and more painful. But there are really two journals here --for she not only shows us Việt-Nam through the eyes of one who has returned, she also gives to us the experience of a Vietnamese making a life in Europe.

The author's personality shines through in the book. She is a fiercely proud and deeply sensitive woman; she is a person of tradition facing a world of change and uncertainty. Above all, she is an artist, and her words can be so lyrical that the line between prose and poetry begins to disappear.

In conversation, as in music, it is often the quiet but strong voice that holds one's attention. Trần Thị Bông Giấy's is such a voice. Slowly, through a moving story or memorable character here, a reflection on a poem or thoughts about an opera there, the motifs are woven; the piece comes together as a whole. The effect builds up as you keep reading, until you feel you have come to know this person and her country better.

True understanding can never occur between a subject and an object. It only emerges between two subjects. In order to understand the Vietnamese people, people whose lives are intertwined with ours, we must not simply talk about them --we must genuinely listen to them. We are very fortunate, then, that Trần Thị Bông Giấy's book has been translated into English-- and that the translation was done with such skill and sensitivity by her brightest former piano student, a twenty-year-old who is so close to her –Trần Thy Hà.

The book teaches us again an important lesson about literature --that while it is always about the unique and particular, it also speaks universally to all human beings; for in the voice of another, we hear back, in a new and powerful way, our own speaking about loss, struggle, and hope.


PhD., University of San Francisco

SF. May 1998

When you return, where is your place?

The river rushes down in white foams

A friend’s old wishful tune lingers

A magic string to seal memories!

(Hoàng Trúc Ly)


Liège, Belgium.

Since leaving my native land, I never met any close Vietnamese friends. Even though I still socialize and still get to know many Vietnamese in Paris, the thought of finding a good friend seems forever out of reach.

When I first left Việt-Nam, sometimes I asked myself, "Did Vietnamese on foreign land change too much, or did my ideal of a friend stay too high, making it harder for me to find a friend?" I concluded then that both statements are true. I no longer can find a true friend to share my troubles, to understand my appreciation of a glorious sunset. The loneliness and lack of real friends appear to be a general plight of Vietnamese on foreign lands.

Four years later, my outlook has changed. An essay topic of the schooldays keeps echoing in my mind, "One can never regain his soul of the moment." (Jamais, nous n'aurons l'âme de ce soir). The quote reflects a bittersweet insight. Not that any of the Vietnamese and I change our personalities, but Time has left His mark on all of us.

December, 1978. Tân-An Town, Long-An Province.

Another tour of the West, beginning with five days at Tân-An. The tour trip drained my strength and financial means, but the experience and understanding of my land became richer, more diverse.

A blessing arose from attaching a part of my life to the opera. The trips to distant countrysides, the wilderness, the stations, and the piers had anchored deeply in my memories, too precious to rot away in forgetfulness.

Long-An was the first province of the southern plain, with Tây-Ninh Province in the north, Đồng-Tháp Province in the south, Hồ-Chí-Minh City in the east, and Tiền-Giang Province in the west. When the French first colonized the South, the people of Long-An fought back passionately with their hero, Nguyễn Trung Trực, as the leader. The battle at the French's ship Espérance was a major victory for Long-An. During midday of November 12, 1861, Nguyễn Trung Trực and a hundred and fifty soldiers bursted onto the Espérance and burned the ship that was under Colonel Parfait's command near Vàm-Cỏ Arroyo in Nhật-Tảo Village.

The Southerners commemorated this daring feat in two verses:

"The fire of Nhật-Tảo inspires all

The sword of Kiên-Giang conquers devils."

The main town of Long-An Province was Tân-An, lying on the bank of West Vàm-Cỏ River that originated from Sàigòn, flowing through Mỹ-Tho and Bến-Lức Bridge before reaching Long-An Province. This place was famous for its pineapples; each fruit was big, long, and filled with sweet juice. Some of them weighed up to three, four kilograms. The South had many exotic fruits, but when it comes to pineapples, everyone remember Bến Lức's.

Every show night, the Publicity Division was responsible for advertising and the living arrangement for the group members. The Western Modern Music Division ended up staying at the brick house of an old couple almost in seventies. The natives had a very different attitude from Sàigòn people, even when the towns lie apart only about forty-five kilometers. Being thoughtful, gentle, and hospitable, the couple made us to feel comfortable right away. Going home late at night, we still received a hot pot of porridge for supper. In the daytime, my friends could go fishing freely on the large lake behind the house. As for me, I loved the warm stove and stayed with the kind hostess often. The tingling warmth of the fire blended with the softness of her eyes, drawing me irresistably to her. The dried clusters of garlic dangled on the wall and added to the sweet charm. The black streaks on the frying pans reflected clearly the family atmosphere. In front of the dancing fires, I listened to her countless stories, from the death of their only son at a battle ten years ago, to the pig litter of six just born the previous night...

Looking out to the backyard from the kitchen, my heart vibrated quietly to the sadness of the gray sky. The wanderers always keep a secret wish of finding the land of promise, a sweet home, a cool shade for enjoyment, and a place for encouraging each other. Only a wanderer would understand the longing.

Liège, Belgium. I feel most comfortable with my European friends on one single point: Music. Nothing else. Actually, Daniel and Claudia often grow worried about my financial means, and Jean-Luc or Michel sometimes ask me about that distant native land of mine, yet I think their concerns only reflect common courteous manners. They offer a some-what adequate warmth but not the deep bond of a soul mate.

At night, after returning from the recording studio, we sit and sip tea around the fireplace together. Outside, the wind screeches hard, banging against the windowpanes. At times, a pine branch falls down wearily.

Suddenly, I forget my present self, sitting next to the fireplace of a land farther than half the globe from my homeland. That familiar sweet smell of smoke from pine twigs in the kitchen at Dalat those days overwhelms my senses. Time has no power against these mysterious emotions, and even the long distance cannot push aside the precious memories. The past and present mix together delightfullly, a brief magic so light, one almost thinks it never happened.

December, 1978. Tour at Tân-Thạch.

On Highway 4 from Sàigòn to the West, one reached Exit 76 and the three-way stop called Trung-Lương. All vehicles heading toward the Hậu-Giang Area stopped by here for minutes to half an hour before starting again. Here is a noisy place. The food shacks scrunched together on the roadside, each with its own flavor to the visitors.

.. .. ..

Near Tân-Thạch station, our group raised the stage on an empty lot, surrounded by thick bamboo clusters. Every time the wind swept by, the bamboo trees swing back and forth, singing a soothing melody like the dear lullaby of old:

"Oh, the sweet wind wrapping around banana trees

You left me for her and broke our children' s hearts..."

Two other friends and I stayed at a cottage of an old lady nearly seventy years old, known as Auntie Seven. The war had robbed of her two eldest sons. The youngest daughter married far away, down in Tân-Châu, Châu-Đốc Area, so she rarely came home to visit. Auntie found comfort in the pitiful surroundings with the hens and the garden in the back yard. Each time a performing tour visited Tân-Thạch, Auntie's spirit rose remarkably because of the bustling presence of people in her home, even if it was only for a few days.

Since I was young, I already loved the figure and face of a dear woman that I hardly knew. A few years later, this love was bestowed on my grandmother, my mother and many other old ladies that I had the good fortune to meet. Yet I never forgot that dear woman. She passed by my house everyday at eleven thirty in the morning --an old, weak, and very slender woman.

Her selling phrase touched my heart ever since the first day I saw her, "Try our rice wine, the fine wine of Hốc-Môn!" Traveling merchants passed through my village with their own selling phrases and clear accents. She alone was different. Her voice was too soft and hoarse; added to that, her eyes became partially blind with one hand on the walking stick and the other struggling with the bulky wine bottle. Being a seven-year-old, I already knew that wine was not meant for children. I always regretted in my heart that she did not sell sweet rice or pudding like the others so I could have the chance to help her and to get to know her better. Her skin folded up in wrinkles, and dull light emitted from her eyes, but her face had a very sweet and pitiful air.

One time, stopped for talking to my mother at the main road, she retold the tale of her migration all the way from Long-Xuyên Province to Hốc-Môn District with her three sons. Then they grew up, went to war, and died. She lived by herself, selling smuggled wine from Hốc-Môn everywhere just to survive.

Two years later, the old woman still came by my village promptly at eleven thirty in the morning with that so deep and sad voice. Her back bent over a little bit more; the heavy wine bottle seemed to drag her down.

As for me, the old habit of looking out the window for her form at eleven thirty still persisted. I patiently waited, and waited, as if searching for an impossible but delicious secret.

And then another year flowed by. She still passed by at eleven thirty, but no longer selling wine. A beggar greeted my sight instead. Her form was tiny and weak with both eyes completely blind. Maybe that is why those wine dealers did not bother to distribute their smuggled wine to her. The old hands grabbed onto the walking stick. That old selling phrase, "Try our rice wine, the fine wine of Hốc-Môn!” now changed to pleadings, sadly like the sea weeping: "Kind ladies, gentlemen of heart, please spare some change for me!"

Verviers, Belgium. I took the train from Liège to Verviers by myself to rediscover some old memories. Four years ago, after leaving Việt-Nam, Verviers was my first European hometown. That first month still haunts my mind. A terrifying dream that numbed the senses even after awaking.

I will never forget that moment, waiting at the airport in Holland for my flight to Belgium while the morning light of eight-thirty seemed bleaker than the dying rays of a winter evening. For the first time, I had a sense of European time and distance. My mind was a swirl of yearning for my old country's warm sunny rays. The native land lay thousands of miles apart, lost forever from my sight.

Then I arrived at Verviers. The dismal town had witnessed so many restless nights of mine, the countless sudden rising in bed, startled. Those emotions spilled themselves across the journal pages --a sharing of so much thoughts about that distant land in the sunful East, where I was born, grew up, and lived with my whole being and soul.

Returning after four years to Verviers, standing on the high cliff to look down at the house that contained once my pains, nostalgia overwhelms my spirit. Everything fades with the erosion of time. So why is the pain still eating me up? And I still miss, still love dearly, still cry at night for that warm sun of Việt-Nam. Perhaps forevermore...

End of December, 1978.

Tour at Cái-Bè District, Tiền-Giang Province.

Tiền-Giang was the second province of Cửu-Long River Valley with Long-An Province in the north, Đồng-Tháp Province west, Soài-Rạp Strait and Nam-Hải Sea in the east, Tiền River south, and Bến-Tre Province across from Cửu-Long River.

From Tân-Thạch, our group went back out to Rạch-Miễu ferry harbor to stop by Cái-Bè, one of the six districts of Tiền-Giang Province. The stage was set up in the stadium. Among our staff, the Western Modern Music Division was in charge of background music thirty minutes before the opera, and during intermissions. Throughout the opera, not all seven people in the Division had to play at the same time; just one or two instruments were enough to bring out the feelings of a particular scene. Compared to the Oriental Classical Music Division, which had to play all the time in accompaniment with the singing, the Modern group was more relaxed.

During those show nights at Cái Bè, the audience squatted all around, behind the orchestra. The January weather set in with chilly winds here and there. Tết loomed near.

In Act I of Phụng Nghi Đình, when Miss Út Bạch Lan, our leading soprano, in the role of Vương Doãn, shrieked out "Điêu Thuyền!" the name of the main female character who was based on a real historical figure during the third century B.C. in China, my soul shuddered. What a mournful tone! The pitiful plight of a loyal count of the king before the deteriorating political conditions were conveyed exquisitely. In a split second, I truly felt the magical beauty of Vietnamese opera.

Not only then, yet thirteen years ago, the opera and I had already begun our journey together. A close friend of mine at Sàigòn National Conservatory of Music was the second daughter of Mr. Năm Châu, the well-known playwriter and the artist Kim-Cúc. I was asked by my friend to play the background music for the opera called The Stage at Dark, written by her father. The opera dealt with present society so most of the music selections came from Western Classical pieces with tragic air instead of traditional Oriental. Even so, I had a sense of being part of Vietnamese Opera Theater as a musician.

Thirteen years ago, the opera was an alien territory. Even all through those three months performing The Stage at Dark with Thanh-Minh Opera Company at various theaters in Sàigòn, through the intimate conversation with many famous opera singers, and through the affectionate bond with my friend and her father, in reality, the unmistakable gap between Vietnamese opera and me seemed impossible to bridge.

Thirteen years later, I had a chance to see these faces again in addition to new ones. My viewpoint had changed drastically. At this point, I truly liked the operas and developed a closer relationship with these colleagues. Above all, I could never forget that tragic yell of the famous soprano Út Bạch Lan during the show night at Cái Bè.

Brussels. Some verses from the long novel Jean Christo- pher by Romain Rolland, a French writer.

“Because you loved me once

I thank you

And I wish that somewhere

You will find happiness

More than I ever could give...”

January, 1979.

Tour at Cai-Lậy Dictrict, Tiền- Giang Province.

Cai-Lậy was a relatively prosperous place of Tiền-Giang Province, a three-way stop on Highway 4. Turning right would lead one to Mộc-Hóa (Long-An), turning left to Ba-Dừa (Cai-Lậy). When we reached near the market, a beautiful church of the Cao-Đài religion appeared, also lying near Highway 4.

Our group raised the stage at Phú-Kiết Market of Cai-Lậy District, where more than a hundred years ago, in mid-April of 1875, Thủ-Khoa-Huân, a renowned hero for revolution against the French colonizing, started his mission and was executed by the French army.

Each January afternoon before the show began, sitting in the small coffee shop next to the stage with a friend who played the trumpet, gazing at golden leaves floating along with the wind, a piercing sadness seeped deeper and deeper within me. The January wind just before Tết at a distant small town contained a potent force, releasing so many emotions from one's heart. I kept thinking about those friends who died, friends who escaped from Việt-Nam by boats, friends still in Communist reeducation camps, and then myself, a missing music note, stubborn and silent.

From time to time, I scolded myself, "You must do something!" and then felt dejected at not knowing what to do exactly. Every return from a completed tour was greeted with the loss of some dear friends. What land had welcame them? Or perhaps some waves on Nam-Hải Sea had swallowed a friend alive. No certainty. I only felt another wave of dull pain each time I heard that another friend had left Việt-Nam.

Sometimes I wondered, "Do you want to leave too?" The answer always painted a gruesome scene with the gnawing loneliness on a foreign land. I dreaded the picture of a tiny Viet- namese woman with fur coat and scarf, walking through the towering snow of a bleak winter in Northern or Western Europe. So why did I feel this overwhelming sadness, knowing that so many had left? In the end, after thorough examination, I understood my contradictions. Việt-Nam was likened to an old mother suffering and Communists my cruel stepbrothers and sisters. The brutality pushed me to alienation and to be defensive, but the painful tears of the old mother also pulled me back considerably. The fight tore my heart asunder. So what will win at last? I didn't know then.

Brussels. The letter to Hạnh.

Dear Hạnh,

It has been ages since I last wrote to you. Please don't be angry. For some times past, my soul feels so dejected like I will never have enough energy to rise up again. That is why I have stopped writing letters to friends in Việt-Nam. Naturally, I am not being ungrateful or indifferent. I still miss you and all those ties that I have made for the past thirty years or so of my life. And yet, I can't help but to bury them in the farthest corner of my heart.

During these four years, I have faced countless failures in life. However, I refuse to let discouragement have the upper hand. I think life is just like a huge wheel twirling forever and sucking humans into its mad whirl. If you stop for just one split second, the wheel would smash you to bits and pieces. So I struggle to rise up. Through all clamor, I save a special place in my heart for those past memories. I am in pain, perhaps because I cherish the memories too much? But I don't care. They are the only things that I truly did not lose.

My dear, in your last letter, I loved your idea of "contentment." All my life, I failed to achieve it, I greatly admire those who can. All my life, I am just someone going against the current, one step forward means two steps backward. What a delightful scene, watching someone drift peacefully along the river flow for a change! Especially if that someone is part of my close circle, I will be that much more at ease.

My sweet friend, I am so very sorry about your divorce. I don't know how to reach out and comfort you when we are so far apart. Even so, I know that you are a strong woman. As an artist, you will be enriched by pain, not destroyed. Besides, everything has its own conclusion. The important thing is to remember only the beautiful memories between each other. That is what I think. Kiss your daughter for me.

Friends always.

January, 1979.

From Cai-Lậy, our group moved to Long-Định toward the three-way stop of Trung-Lương, also in Tiền-Giang Province. Long-Định was a dull district where downtown meant two rows of houses along both sides of Highway 4. We set up the stage on an empty crop field right by the highway. Here, far from the residential place, we shared shelter and daily activities over a large area. Dividing into groups, we raised our tents right on the ground around the stage.

It was about the full moon time. At midnight, after the show, the field lit up in a golden aura, magical and mysterious. The empty stage stood desolated with fluttering curtain like the reality of an artist's life. Here and there, insects, crickets chirped in competition. People clustered in groups, talking and drinking wine. Together with the scattered tents, a strange but very much warm atmosphere arose.

In this small community, I grew fonder of the people day by day. Most of them lived a very simple life with no bigger dream than a packed show night. "The ordinary dream" was only this, besides the primitive recreations. I almost never heard anyone in our group mentioning the idea of leaving Việt-Nam. The cost did not really matter; they just plainly were not interested. The big stars and I rarely mixed together, but with everyone else, I conversed frequently. I listened to their complaints about the rising inflation and the illness of family members. No matter how depressing it might have seemed, one crowded show would lift their spirits to the sky.

Anvers, Belgium. A phrase of Goethe in one of the works by Thomas Mann struck my mind: "There is no way out of life save the path of art. There is no way into life save the path of art."

January, 1979. Tour at Vĩnh-Kim Village,

Long-Định District, Tiền-Giang Province.

What a beautiful and relaxing five-day journey at Vĩnh-Kim! Almost two-thirds of our group stayed at a ranch that formerly belonged to the old army before 1975, and then to the Communist government. Everyone took two benches and lined them side by side for a bed. Each night after the show, these rows of "bed" became a noisy market, sometimes lasting all night. The stream behind the ranch offered a great hideout for bathing or laundry. Leading to our stage, the small road wove nimbly through bamboo clusters, cool and peaceful like out of a dream.

In the early mornings, I usually sat by the river. There was a tingling sensation spreading from head to toe. The gentle peace crawled over each muscle fiber. Around me, the bamboo trees whispered their delightful secrets. Beneath the crystal water, the fishes frolicked to and fro.

And then there were those afternoons at the coffee shop. Seeing the gentle country folks walk by, listening to an exquisite opera on the radio, I could not imagine the savage footsteps of war tramping through here not so long ago. It was so quiet and quaint. And yet there was a small village back then called Thuộc-Nhiêu; the war had swallowed almost all the village men, leaving women, young and old alike, as silent and dismal figures of pain.

Those were the days at Vĩnh-Kim. Emotions swept my heart away, but the eyes could not capture fast enough all of the village's soft scenery and peaceful air. []

"To be continued"

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