Monday, June 18, 2012

A visitor

I live close to the heart of Hanoi... on a small farm. Surrounded by trees, with only dirt roads leading to the house, it's very much like living in the countryside.

When I first moved here a few months ago, the biggest problem was the swarms of mosquitoes infesting the place.

Fortunately, the frogs moved in shortly after, pleased to have an ample food source. The mosquitoes haven't vanished, but the frogs do seem to have helped considerably.

But what next? Well, now the snakes have moved in, attracted by the frogs.

I'm starting to wish I could just have the mosquitoes back.

On Saturday morning, I stumbled out of my bedroom to be confronted with a snake. He (or she? How do you tell!?) was laying between my door and the bathroom. He wasn't very big, and apparently wasn't poisonous either, but it was still a surprising way to start the day.

A few hours later, I was at the Blue Dragon Shelter having lunch. One of the boys, "Anh," was celebrating his birthday. He says he is 16, but he's probably 13, and he looks 11.

I told the kids about the snake: It's a boy's shelter. They love stories like that.

Anh was sitting beside me, and after I had talked about the snake he quietly said (in Vietnamese): "Maybe the snake was Nghia's spirit, coming to visit you."

(Nghia is a very special young guy who died in February this year: some of his story is here).

I've lived in Vietnam for 10 years, but I still find myself occasionally stopped in my tracks by unexpected comments and ideas. Anh was not being at all facetious; he was telling me this to comfort me.

I had one of those moments when I wanted to speak, and my mouth was opening in readiness, but I had no idea what to say.

And then, even more quietly, he said: "When my mother died, a snake visited my house, too."

I shut my mouth. Sometimes there's just no need to say anything. 

1 comment:

Hien_Chi said...

I am Tong Hien Chi, a Vietnamese studying in Singapore. I came across this post last week and I think this is truly an amazing story! I've sent a message through the Blue Dragon website. Could I check if you have received the message?
Hien Chi.