Author: Han Nguyen
I have been craving the sweet taste of lambutants, the sticky, hot weather alternates with heavy rain, and, especially, I have been missing a piece of home.
A month ago I came back from a family reunion in Bentre, Vietnam. Bentre is a small town with a sleepy waterfront lined with imposing, shady coconut trees. Not only is it composed of scenic beauties, Bentre is also home for all kind of fruits, from durians to longans and even malay apples.
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Seeing all the familiar faces after three years overwhelmed me with joy and happiness; I could not control myself and just burst into tears like a baby receiving candies from his parents. Tears and laughter filled that small corner of the airport, but no one said anything until my cousin, Thang, asked if he could go to the bathroom.
I could not sleep the first few nights due to the time difference; instead, I kept waking my cousins up so we could talk about random things like the first scary movie we watched together, Quyen’s first crush, and even the famous chicken fight that occurred the previous month. Once, Quyen and I woke up at 3 a.m. and cooked an instant-noodle feast. Vy, my fifth cousin’s daughter, drove me crazy for weeks; she would pretend to be a surgeon and use her toys to “take care” of me, which usually gave me new bruises after each operation.
I spent the first week visiting the neighborhood and spending time with my family, especially my grandmother. My grandmother is a strong-willed woman who sacrificed her life for her nine children. Although she has started to become forgetful, I still love her with all my heart because she has always been my motivation to work hard, not only for myself, but also for my loved ones.
My family and I went to an annual fruit festival. Not only did the festival have unique, fresh fruits, it also had rare animals like two-tailed reptiles and toyger cats. We had a lot of fun tasting new fruits, meeting tourists, and playing traditional Vietnamese games. I also bought a lot of keo duu, or coconut candy, a chewy treat with an unforgettable sweetness.
The following day, my cousins and I took a field trip to My Khanh in Cantho city. I experienced new things like fishing crocodiles, riding horses, and watching hilarious monkey tricks; I even won a coconut piggy bank from successfully predicting the winner of a dog race. For dinner, I was served a big roasted turtle and a dish of grilled mice; they were surprisingly luscious and addictive.
I traveled to Vinglong City a week later to visit my English teacher, Kiem. Mr. Kiem had always supported me and encouraged me to take chances in life; I respect him as much as I respect my father. He recognized me the moment I came to his house; we talked for hours about my experiences in America, the risks I have taken, and how they have made me a better person. Afterwards, I met up with my old friends, the sweet, dorky siblings who accepted me for who I was and had my back when I came across obstacles.
I had a great and memorable summer, not because it was the most luxurious or the best destination in the world, but because I was able to spend it with my family and friends. I promise to myself that I will become a successful pharmacist to take care of my family and make them proud; that is the least I can do to repay their kindness.