The Lady on Alps Street
Nghia M. Vo
  I met her for the first time two years ago.
I was browsing through books at Barnes and Noble,
when she walked in with her husband,
wearing that adorable smile that lit up the room
A smile to a stranger she never knew.
I said Hi to her but she kept smiling
without saying a word.
After a short conversation,
her husband led her away.
I saw her a few more times
and realized that she no longer talked.
She just looked at you and if she "registered" you
she would let a smile blossom on her face.

Well, she has that forgetfulness
that plagues elderly people
although by a twist of fate
young people of her age can also get it.
She seems to recognize you
although she might not.
Her world is no longer ours,
for she has returned to the land of infancy.
She could still sing or at least follow a few prayers
which she mumbles like a two year-old girl.
She no longer can eat by herself
but has to be fed and dressed...

Time flew by and she still greets me with her smile
although it is a little bit more constrained than years past.
Her husband no longer brings her to meetings
because she has become afraid of crowds.
She refuses to eat and has lost a lot of weight.
She no longer is herself:
sitting alone, moody, self-absorbed,
and lost in her own world
that no one is able to crack open.
What is she thinking or is she thinking at all?
That seems to be the question.
A remarkable mind that has propelled her to an M.D. degree
then to the position of psychiatrist,
is now under some lock down mechanism.
Neurons which have stopped firing,
connections that have refused to work
have left her without inspiration, creativity, and logic.
That spark or that intelligence having died out,
No longer controls her mind and determines her actions.
Like a flower that has lost its sap
she slowly begins to wilt.
Where is that mind gone?
To some strange land, an unknown place
we cannot follow,
leaving behind a wilted, expressionless body.

What a strange fate that has left her family in pain.
What could they do, but accept fate as it is?
A brilliant mind gone sour,
we dearly pray that it would come back to her.
A miracle we're all looking for...

        Please read the rest of the story in THE WOMEN OF VIETNAM.