TESL Certification

The First Letter


It was a summer evening of 1983 on Nha Trang beach, the most beautiful beach in Vietnam. My mom and I had been sitting there for hours. We did not say anything to each other. Looking toward the sea, we saw nothing but empty space. It was getting dark. There was nobody but the two of us on the beach. The wind whipped to our faces. The sea was as rough as the rage of a huge monster. The rougher it was, the more anxious we became. It was the third day since my sister and my brother had escaped to the United States by a small boat. We were sitting at the same place where they departed, praying for their safety and expecting for their news.

As a widow, my mom never wanted my family to separate, but at that time, she had no choice. Since 1975, the communists took over Vietnam including South Vietnam and North Vietnam, the new policy had been established. There was not any benefit for the families that related to the South Vietnamese Republic Regime before. These families were forced to the country to live, and their children could not enter any university or college. Furthermore, when the sons in these families finished their high school, they had to join the Communist Amy. My mom was so worried because my father used to be a captain who worked for the South Vietnamese Republic Regime. Although he died in 1974, a year before the 1975 event, we still had a bad background. Meanwhile, my sole brother was g rowing up, and he had to join the army when he was 18. My mother did not want her son to be a soldier in the Communist Army. She decided to escape to the United States, where we could improve our education. We tried to escape together, but we couldn't. We were cheated many times, so my mom did not have enough money for all of us escaped together anymore. Finally, she had to let my sister and my brother go first.

Few days before they left, my mom advised them many things. We could not help crying when we talked or saw each other. The chance for people who escaped by boat was only one third. If their boat was not sunk because of storms, they might be arrested by the communists. With the strong desire to escape from the Communist Regime, we had to accept that anything might happen to us.

Since my sister and my brother had left, my mom and I went to the beach every evening after her work and my school. We just sat on the sand and facing the sea silently. Knowing that my mom was so worried, I did not know what to say to comfort her when I also felt sorrow.I was thinking about our happy days when we lived together. Many memories of our childhood passed through my mind. I seemed to see my sister and my brother somewhere, talking and smiling at me. I missed them so much. Tears ran down my cheeks but I did not know until I felt salt in my mouth.

Day after day, we kept going there, stayed until it was so late that the beach was deserted then we came home. At home, we usually kneeled in front of my fathers altar and prayed for them. We also made many pilgrimages to many temples to pray. We believed in God, in Buddha, and in my father's spirit that they would help us. Every day, we paid attention to listen to the radio, specially to the weather forecast. We got crazy whenever it was stormy or rainy. One month, two months, and three months had passed. We still had not got any news from them. We were quite hopeless. We thought that my mom had lost two children and I had lost two siblings. I did not want to do anything even talked to anybody. My family became more quiet. Every meal, I could not hold my tears from my eyes when I saw their empty chairs. I did not believe in God or Buddha anymore. I hated them because they did not hear our prayers.

We had been living in such a mood for four months when the happiest day came to us. We got their first letter finally. It was sent by my sister from Hong Kong. We were so happy that we cried although we tried to smile. The paper which was as thin as a tissue was full of my sister's tiny handwriting. It was the valuable thing for which we had to pay by many months living in sadness. I read the letter many times, and I could remember every word with my eyes closed. I wanted to shout loudly that I was the happiest girl in the world. I wanted to hug everybody that I met on my way. Everyone seemed to be nicer, and everything became so great to me. The beach was more beautiful that I had never seen before. In the letter, my sister said that they had spent 15 days in that boat on the sea. They were hungry, thirsty, and cold. Their boat was almost sunk because of the storm. However, when they got to Hong Kong, they did not have any money to send us a letter. The letter was not as long as we expected but it was everything to us. It brought back to us our belief and happiness.

A few months later, because of my father's record, my sister and brother were accepted to come to the United States of America. They had tried their best to study in order to please my mom. After my sister graduated and had a job, she sponsored us to come to the United States. We were finally reunited after 10 years of separation. Now we are living together happily, but we never forget the suffering that we had endured. We usually talk about it as the most important event in our lives.