I met her at some point on my life course. There she was, a small woman in plain clothes, waiting to catch the bus at a deserted bus stop on the highway. She had nothing special to catch my attention. At that moment, I was rolling like a meaningless pebble on the road, bound for nowhere.
"You look tired. Come here and take a seat in this shady place,” the woman said as she moved aside to give me her seat. Her soft, slow voice had a comforting strength, giving me a soothing cool in a scorching early afternoon.
"Where are you going now?" the woman asked me.
"Well, I don't know. I just want to catch a bus, to see what it will be like at the terminal."
"The terminal? There's nothing there to see. Why don't you get cheered up and enjoy the sights on the way?"
"How can I do that while my heart's breaking?"
I burst into tears. I had kept all my pains from my loved ones, but now I didn't know why I wanted to turn myself inside out before a strange old woman. Maybe the burning sun and the dead silence of the highway at noon were the last straw.
"I lost it all, right at the moment I thought I had it all. We were going to get married after four years going through more downs than ups. And he came one day, with nothing to say, just to show me a ring on his finger. Is it fair to me?"
The woman gave a sigh of sympathy. She seemed to well understand the pain inside my bleeding heart.
"Don't cry, little girl. Just calm down and you'll see nothing matters."
The woman placed her hand on my shoulder. Suddenly I felt an unlimited source of peace energy in my vessels. Was it the power of understanding and sympathy?
"Now, do you want to hear my life story while we're waiting for the bus?" the woman asked me in a low voice. I gave her a blank look and nodded my head. Would I find some comfort in her sharing?
"Exactly thirty-five years ago, I was what you are like now: completely desperate, heading for the terminal of life. In the evacuation of pro-American Vietnamese people in 1975, my husband took me and my three children to America for refuge. The moment we reached that distant country, he left us behind with a wish for good luck, to pursue his own happiness.
My tears could not run down before my three children, they had to run inside to deepen my pain. I kept joking to cheer my children up. Yet my hands were so small, how could I shelter them in a strange land, with no money, no relatives and a torn heart?
Then I took the kids to the beach one afternoon. I intended to take them farther, farther, until the generous sea held out its arms to welcome us. However, the kids refused to go out. The cold water scared them and they cried wildly. Their desperation suddenly woke me up from a long nightmare. My kids hadn't chosen to come into this life. It was me that had brought them into this earthly hell, and now, it was me who chose to cease their existence against their wish. How cowardly and selfish I was!
I took them ashore. Looking into their naïve faces, I felt a sudden strength inside me. Why did I think fate ill-treated me when I had three guardian angels by my side? I was just a little woman, yet I had made a miracle when I gave birth to three chubby and healthy kids. Why couldn't I make another miracle for them, the children born from my flesh and blood? Women are the weaker sex, yet they are much stronger because they were born to support others, though sometimes what they get back is just inconsideration and betrayal.
Then, I did all the things that brought me even a penny. My hands got hardened so that my children's bread got softer. Days in, days out, we leaned on each other to gather enough encouragement to go ahead. My kids grew up into good, responsible citizens. Their hard childhood and their mother's love helped build a sharing heart inside them.
When they could live their lives independently and decently, I began to live for myself. I didn't look for, yet at the most unexpected moment in my life, I found a man with the same pains I had undergone. We have cherished bits and pieces of our belated happiness, just because we well understand the pains and losses. Now we are good friends, living for each other and contributing to charity to share happiness with other unlucky people. I feel life has paid me off."
The woman stopped for a while. She looked into my eyes and gave me a kind smile.
"I told you my story to tell you that we should never stand still and think the door before us will close forever. We should find the key to open the door, or try to find the other way round."
The woman took a photo out of her purse and showed it to me. "This is my daughter's family. Look, she's really happy by her husband and her two kids. If we had drowned that day, could I have the happiness seeing my two little angels now?"
In the photo, a young woman was smiling at me. The kindness inside was shining on her face. A good fruit from a good seed being sown.
I gave the woman a thankful look. She smiled and whispered in my ears:
"Now stand up little girl. Don't go to the terminal because there's nothing there to see. Get back to where you were from and live your life to the fullest. We are women, and God gives us a priceless gift, which is a heart filled with unlimited love. It's not the end of the world when you gave it all to your first love and got nothing back. Keep giving your sincere love and you'll surely get what you have given one day, in another good-hearted man. Life is fair; it pays back what it receives."
A breeze was blowing away the burning heat when the woman stopped. I looked at her in silence. No one knew there was an extremely strong heart inside such a little woman. All of a sudden, I felt proud I was a woman. We women are endowed with a love instinct, which wipes out hatred and calls for more love. I don't know how many women like her there are in half of the world's population, but I know they are the ones who balance our Earth.
Copyright © 2010 Do Thi Dieu Ngoc
Dieu Ngoc is a university teacher and an amateur writer for a bilingual magazine in Vietnam. If you would like to pass on a comment to Us: Email Us