Return To Huê

I am back after several years of absence. After more than 11 hours of flight since Paris to Saigon, I have to wait 6 hours before taking the flight for Huê.

In the plane, I am strongly shaken without being able to sleep by thinking that I am going to see again bosom friends of former days. Sat next to me is a French, at mealtime, the hostess advanced dishes on us by asking us who is vegetarian, I was very surprised. Our French friend is thus vegetarian, then it is necessary to him to eat apart. By discussing with him, I learnt that he is an executive, he goes to Vietnam for the first time with a group of friends to make nautical sport to Mui Ne. He asked me if I know how to go since the airport to the bus station, I had to apologize, because I did not know how to say to him.

Not to wait for the flight for Huê, and so get impatient doing nothing, I have meeting with a nephew at the airport Tân Son Nhât. He drove me to the academy at Nguyên Du street to visit Mrs Minh Huong, director of the academy to pass on to her the words of Mr Kremer, director of Antony’s academy who proposes her a cooperation between both academies.

It is very warm to Saigon, the hand holding a bag of chocolate to offer to the friends, I had to change the bag of hand from time to time to avoid sunbeams, being afraid that these beams are going to melt the chocolate. A little gift coming by far, a tour of offer among the friends, and here is the bag of chocolate emptied.

At around midday, my nephew brought me to the family of brother Minh, to visit the graves of my parents as well as my sister-in-law who has just disappeared. By looking at Duc’s photo on the altar, I was moved to my sister-in-law who fought against an incurable disease for several years, and whom I have still seen again one year ago, and who, in spite of an unstable health, welcomed me warmly.

By taking the lunch with my brother, and so to share with him this irreplaceable loss, I was able to see the serenity of my brother accepting the separation. Later, I had to get back to the airport to be ready for the flight until Huê.

The plane took off at 4 pm, after more than one hour of flight, it landed at the airport of Phu Bai at 5:20 am. It is also warm to Huê, I wonder how I am going to make, because I took with me only winter clothes. Having taken my luggage, I saw Yên and Ngoc coming to welcome me, I followed them reassured up to the car.

It makes peaceful to Huê at night, having stored my affairs, Yên took me to make a tour in city, entering Dai nôi, crossing the bridge Truong Tiên. Sat behind Yên, I did not still realize that I am in Vietnam walking in motorcycle with friend…I did not still realize that I am in Vietnam walking in motorcycle with friend Yên rented a very attractive and proper house for me and Dominique. But by entering the bathroom to change me, I saw a big cockroach on the hanger. I was afraid, but it is necessary to accustom me to it. This night Yên stays with me because Dominique will arrive only tomorrow …With the jet lag I had difficulty in falling asleep, finally I had to force to sleep, otherwise I shall be tired the next day.

It has been five days since I am there, it is raining all the time, not hardly but without stopping. For people by, it is completely normal, because if it does not drizzle to Huê, it is not any more completely Huê.

This climate calls back me more than 40 years behind, when I went regularly to Huê for the work. In the time, me and my friends we go to Dông Ba to eat of the bun bo, or to buy some soft nougat, seeds of lotus to nibble all day long. This time, I do not have friends of former days anymore, but I have new friends who are also warm taking me to visit the city. However, the way of life of each period is not alike, I was not able to find memories. Now there are many more inhabitants to Huê, but compared to Hanoi or Saigon, Huê still keeps peaceful lines, in spite of buildings and houses grew well during pavements.

The ao dài, hair falling on the shoulders of the girls are now replaced by jeans and their sweet look does not exist any more. On the bridge Truong Tiên do not exist any more the ao dai floating in the wind, but the motorcycles taking off at top speed and the noises of the exhaust pipe resounding noisily in the air.

This year, Dominique obtained a subsidy to study the spiritual life of Huê. We were gone visited the manager of the French-Vietnamese cultural center to prepare a day of narrative of texts by Tran Thuy Mai. During 3 weeks, we shall go to interview old persons about the life beyond … Meet young people to discuss with them and expose them points of view on the culture between France and Vietnam. Dominique will teach them some songs and conversely, sister Tran Thuy Mai will recite to the spectators her own texts.

In the noon, having gone to the cultural center, we were visited Tu Câm Thành and we attended the concert of the Royal court and the dance of the group Ba Vu. The atmosphere of the representation evoked us the royal receptions of kings and queens Nguyên of the previous centuries … Today, to attract tourists, we can play kings and queens during some hours with reception by beautiful handmaids in traditional costumes …

Phuong Oanh.

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