Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Chicken Feather Broom Men

My grandma was the kind of person that didn’t really have a plan for what she was going to do. She always did what came into her head and never thought of the consequences after.It happened when I was six years old after we had arrived in Cambodia.

The motorcycle driver dropped us in front of the jewelry store. My grandma asked him to wait for us because she had to go to sell her ring in order to pay him. He agreed to wait for us. My grandma looked so excited opening her purse. Suddenly, her face turned red. Her hands went through the purse hastily, over and over again. She looked up to me and asked, “Did you see a small bag in my purse?”“What bag grandma?” I was surprised, and I didn’t understand what she was talking about.“There was a small red paper bag that had a ring in it,” she said.“No, I’ve never seen one.”“If we can’t find the ring, we won’t be able to pay the driver, and we can’t have a place to stay tonight,” she almost cried.I was numb and shivering. I couldn’t say anything. I was worried about us tonight, tomorrow on the street. It was so hot that the motorcycle driver was covered in sweat. He seemed to be no longer patient to wait for us. He moved toward to my grandma, and said something to her. My grandma also said something to him. After that, he looked upset, but it seemed he couldn’t do anything, so he got on his motorbike and left.With an empty pocket, we wandered around the city. Holding on to my grandma’s right hand, we were walking without knowing where to go. We walked under the shades of the trees that lined up on the sidewalk. It looked similar to our city in Vietnam. At that moment, I wished we were still at home. “Where are we going grandma?” I asked.“I’m trying to figure it out. Maybe we will go find my friends. I think they’re around here, but I don’t remember which way. We will ask direction as we go along,” she said and kept looking around.

I was so exhausted, and felt like it was our end of life. I was worried. I was thinking about where would we stay that night, and how we would get food. We were in a different land and we didn’t really speak the language. My grandma knew a little Cambodian; still she couldn’t understand much of what people were saying.

Finally, we found a stone chair to sit down. I was so tired, hungry, and thirsty that I couldn’t walk anymore. Then we heard a group of men talking. They were speaking our language. I looked and my grandma and smiled. My grandma face brightened.

Eventually, my grandma decided to go and talk with them. I couldn’t hear what they were talking. I was too shy to get closer. They looked at me pitifully. I could tell that they were sorry for me. My grandma probably told them about our situation and why we were here.

They gathered together, and then one of them came to us, and gave us some money. At last, I actually had food in my stomach. I couldn’t tell whether the food was good, or I was so hungry that I couldn’t stop eating. Everything was perfect!

My grandma didn’t eat. She left all the food for me. She was still talking to those men. They didn’t look any better than us. They were labourers. They walked around selling chicken feather brooms. The feather brooms were made skillfully and beautifully. Each of them carried about twenties sticks long and short. 

After I finished eating, one man came up and said, “ Alright, we need to get going. So we’ll show you the address where we live. You can go there and ask for some more help from other Vietnamese. We have lots of Vietnamese over there. Just tell our name when you meet them, then they’ll help.”

“Thank you so much for helping us. I don’t know when I can pay you back. I appreciate it, really,” my grandma said.

“Don’t worry about it, auntie. Hope you find your daughter soon,” another broom man said.They gathered together and collected money from each of them again.They gave all to us so that we could pay for the motorcycle driver when we got to their place. They called a motorcycle for us. They carefully asked the motorcycle driver to take us to the address they had given to us. It was such a tiring, grateful day that I had ever experienced.

I was so thankful that we met those men. If they hadn’t been there to help, I wouldn't know where we would have ended up.

Life is full of surprises. Just like the old used to say: "there will always light at the end of the tunnel." Right now, somewhere in the world they are; I always wish them all the best. 

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