The Bồng Sơn Mother
Phuoc Huu Pham
         Mother was the youngest of nine children from a family of wealthy landowners. Although her parents' lands were not as immense as "storks could take a long flight," they were enough to sustain a large family.

         Although raised in a well-endowed family, she only had a third-grade education. When reading books, she sometimes had to spell out every word and wrote letters as big as a hen. At that time, no one cared about a girl's education for even though she was well educated, once married, she could only be a housewife taking care of the kitchen and managing wealth and possessions of her husband's family. On the other hand, her brothers were allowed to study until they graduated. As for my Uncle Eight, he was allowed to go to Huế to complete his baccalaureate degree. At that time, a baccalaureate degree was a big deal, for almost no one in the province got it. Although my father had only finished his French primary school degree, he was the feast of the town.

         She was a petite, fair-skinned lady, with an oval face, dark black but sad eyes under a row of curved eyebrows. Did these traits foretell a miserable, more sorrowful than happy life?

         Although she was not beautiful or sharp-witted, her amiability and character had won father over. At that time, he was a princely, open-handed flirter, the son of another wealthy landowner in a nearby village. While his brothers were managing the family's business, father sold his share of land and bought a car to take the daughter of a provincial chief to Qui Nhơn for a ride... Mother got married at age 16 or 17 and knew nothing but taking care of the family and raising children. Father took care of bringing home the bacon.

         The Việt Minh took over Bồng Sơn (interzone 5) around 1949. They accused father of being an "oppressive landlord" and jailed him. From that time onward, the weight of the family and taxes fell onto mother's frail shoulders.

        Please read the rest in Forum 7: FACES OF THE WAR.
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