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The fireball was hidden behind the mountains, but its last light rays were still wanting to hold back forever saying goodbye to the sky. In the distance, the skyline remained a little pale color as the traces of a hard day. And overhead, the wind that carried the cold air of the days in the mischievous 12th lunar month was playing. The wind whispered and smiled on the top of the trees. In that cold air, I smelled a light scent that extremely pleasant of a peaceful village. I took a deep breath to collect all the extremely featured fresh air into the chest. I continued to walk on the jetty plastic road that was getting on well into the darkness. I was going home.

My house is at the end of the small alley. The gradual slope that led up to my house now has become erosion and difficulty for the moving. The time, rain and wind of the nature made it older than hundred times, is it right? On both sides of the road, the houses of my uncles are still in the old places, only a small change is that these houses are now surrounded by large gates and firm fences, look safe and very solid. Only having a small house at the end of the alley is still silent in the rows of the trees, no iron gate, no high walls as well, but because of that naked look, it has become particularly friendly and welcome.

From a distance, I saw the red color of my mother’s firewood-stove. The orange-yellow flame was dancing up and down around a kettle. Many times, I could not stop the question, and it exited from my lips to ask why my mother has not used gas stove for convenience, she had just smiled to say “Firewood-stove rice is more delicious, dear daughter”. It is delicious because there are scent of the cook smoke and taste of the homeland, isn’t it? It is delicious because there are the difficulty, sacrifice, and love of my mother, isn’t it? It is a delicious firewood-stove rice because there is always my mother’s waiting me for the family meals, isn’t it? Mom, I was back home already.

My home was happy as a festival in that dinner, the sounds of saying and laugh mixed together cheerfully. Just one year had not met each other but I seemed like we had a separate decade. I and my family members had lots of things to tell each other. I silently thanked our God because of a year with such lots of changes that our family could still gather around the rice tray like this. Suddenly through the thin smoke rising from the saucepan of hot sour soup in middle of the table, I realized the hard faces of my parents had many wrinkles. My parents are old, but their hair look still black and healthy. That’s why the wrinkles had couldn’t make my parents looked old at all. But the life with the difficulty and hardship on the fields had showed the backside of its severe face on the sunburn of my parents’ skin and on their hands. The heavy limbs work had made their hands became flat, callous, and harsh like a canal in the end of the dry season. Although the live is going on hurriedly but it will never be able to harden my parents’ hearts. Those hearts are still warm and stretch with loving resin for their children and family. And I saw deeply in my parents’ eyes having a strong belief into the family, the life, and the future. The glint from those eyes has been the security and protection for me, they have always given me a safe feeling and boundless encouragement.

The time had not only marked its signs on the eyes, the face, the skin of my parents but had also drawn the contours of the enthusiastically youth on my two younger brothers. They have now grown up. On their faces, the healthy marks of the sons of professional farmers had been showed proudly, looked ungovernable strangely. These natural lines had highlighted the honesty in their eyes and their smiles. The two of them have closely resembled our father, especially the eyes and the two rows of eyelashes. From those eyes, I saw the warmth of the hearts mixed with a little of mischievousness of the awkward age. But behind that mature looks I knew they had still indulged in playing and had been very carefree. Suddenly I wished we had been back the time that we climbed on the trees, played in the rains, and were also beaten by our parents. What a happiness! But unfortunately, the time is as an arrow that was shot from the rod of bow, it can only rush forward, it is not possible to look back even once.

This year’s meal like still the meal in the past, there are still the dish of boiled fish, the saucepan of sour soup, and over all those things that is still having the family reunion. The noisy atmosphere at first is quietening down and become naturally silent in few seconds. Each of us is pursuing own thoughts and smiles excitingly at those thoughts. In those short seconds, I feel clearly having a distance. That’s right, there is some invisible distance between me and my family as well as among us together that suddenly I cannot call out name. But I know that the distance is not too far away, not too chilly but extremely pleasant. That distance gives me a private space, it is also sticks me to my family and everyone to each other. Perhaps that distance is called maturation. When people are adulthood, people often want to leave their families, leave the cramped cage to fly to the vast horizon. But it was time they needed their families more than ever.

The air of lively, merry, and warm of the family meals come back in our small house. And out there, the wind also whispers the interesting stories to the grass, makes they “laugh” in the soft sounds. The wind also giggles. It brought the laughter’s of the grass and the joys of our family to the far away horizon.


Written by Thu Uyen

Translated by Diem Hanh

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