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Valentine’s Day: Let’s Live for Love

Frank Trinh

My beloved friends!

Valentine’s Day is here once again. I recall that on this day the 14th February last year, I landed in Saigon. Former Pearl of the Far East! The city was awash with vehicles, people and noise…Riding pillion on a motorbike driven by a nephew, my sister’s son, from a house on Cach Mang Thang Tam Street (formerly known as Le Van Duyet Street to Vo Thi Sau Street (formerly Hien Vuong Street) with intentions of handing over some cash sent from a cousin in Melbourne to her relative. However, the motorbike kept getting caught in traffic jams. My nephew either had to turn back or run around in another direction. That evening on this Valentine’s Day, young boys and girls of Saigon, swarmed out from all directions into the streets. Some to have a night out, some to go to the movies, listen to music or sing karaoke, others to wine and dine, have a coffee, or have a beer in the company of a girl, and some to watch the Cai Luong (Reformed Theatre). There was a ‘real’ overseas Vietnamese songstress, Huong Lan (Sweet Orchid), who was the principal artiste. There was no doubt that her fragrance was enough to attract the largest crowd of people, judging from the five rows of motorbikes ranged on the pavements of the streets as far as a kilometre back. One wonders if after such noisy goings-on in the streets, Saigonese young people were able to have romantic romps away from prying eyes.

My beloved friends!

Valentine’s Day has again returned. But the sadness for human kind and for the majority of people like us Vietnamese is that they dare not live “for love, by love and because of love.” We do not dare to live and be true to our own hearts. We do not dare to live according to our beating hearts—throbbing to such an extent that our heartbeat is erratic and going beserk. Why so?

We have ‘freely’ let ourselves be shackled to the chains of the past. We have ‘freely’ left ourselves with eyes closed to follow our forefathers—without questioning, without so much as a query.

The writer, Lang Nhan Phung Tat Dac, who is over 90 years old and presently living in England, wrote somewhere:

“The whole world is searching for freedom, but very few people realize that gaining freedom is just like conquering a beautiful woman, because having conquered her, you find that you are overwhelmed and upset in the same way as you feel in craving for freedom...let alone the fact that, deep down everyone of us cherishes the things that tie us down. That is the general contradiction that appeals to us all. Over time, we are only links in a chain, a bead in the endless string of humanity. The habits bequeathed to us by our forefathers: getting dressed, cooking meals, walking, standing, lying down, sitting, trying to express sadness, happiness, smiling etc. we in fact unintentionally follow the path of our forebears, in a quiet and docile way …[Truoc Den (Before the Lamp) Page 132].

In my opinion, there are many traditional values which need to be re-assessed, to be placed once more in their proper perspective, in order to fit in with the thinking of this era. So, who is the one to tell us into what mould we should fit? Is there anything that can be deemed as fit and proper at all times, for all occasions and all places.

In our lifetime we have the capacity to think for ourselves, to re-think our thoughts and beliefs that we feel are proper, so that we can adapt to new circumstances and new realities, and not to take a backward step. Of course, we can tell ourselves that we must uphold those principles that we cherish, but there are very few principles in the world that are considered fixed and unchangeable. If we personally give birth to it, then as a matter of course we can change it .

We can see things from different angles. We experience different things in life, therefore we have different perceptions. This is the most natural thing on Earth. Who can foresee the things in our lives? Who knows? Que sera, sera! You think something is right, but soon after find it wrong. You think you are in love, but not long afterwards you feel hate. A hatred so bitter that, for that matter, you treat each other as arch-enemies. Stories of old tell that there were four or five blind fortune-tellers lazing around and chatting on the pavement, when they heard that an elephant was approaching, they pooled their money in order to be allowed to touch the elephant. Their reasoning was that in this life, one hundred times of hearing is not comparable to seeing, and one hundred times of seeing is not comparable to touching. After touching the elephant’s trunk one of them said: “It feels like a leech”, but another said of the elephant’s leg: “It feels like a pillar of a temple”. Another said of the elephant’s ear: “It feels like a fan” while some were convinced that the elephant was nothing but “a worn-out broom”, on touching its tail and hide.

On Valentine’s Day, a close friend of mine of my teenage years, has voluntarily yielded to living for love. From California in the USA he, without any hesitation, sent me these lines:

“ I kneel before you asking for every breath of your body,
And bury myself in you and die passionately in the midst of love…”

Now, may I ask who else among us, particularly the fair sex, would agree to bury yourself and passionately die in the midst of love? Is there anyone out there?

Please let me know. My phone number is …

Frank Trinh
Sydney 2004



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