I was born in one of the latest days in the year 1978. My first cry was spent in the maternity ward of one of the only four districts of Hanoi that day – Dong Da district.
The same with everyone, I cannot know anythings about the day by myself. However, I know some pieces of information relating to my early childhood through my mom’s memory that she recited when talking together with family members or relatives.
As her memory, on the afternoon of the day of having birth signal, my father took us to the Dong Da maternity ward by bike, the same with all of the labour class couples that day. The distance from our house – on the bank of To Lich river – to there – at the begin of Kham Thien street – is about 5 kilometres. Since I am the second child in our family and my elder brother was just one and a half year old that day, after taking us there, my father left my mom stayed there alone to went back home to looked after my brother. I still stayed inside my mother’s womb till just more than 5 a.m. next day.
My parents were not born and raised in Hanoi. My father’s hometown is in Thai Binh where paddle fields placed end to end endlessly. My mom’s hometown is near Huong pagoda in My Duc district of Ha Tay province, where limestone mountain chains placed along the roads and sparsely over the province. The same with many youngsters that day leaving hometowns to settle and get job in some provinces developing industrial factories, they went to Hanoi and joined a construction firm belonging to the industrial ministry. As all of other companies, that state firm not only provided them a stable job – they became state workers when joining the firm – but also shelter in its tenement. Working here, they met each other and got marriage. Their wedding was organized by the company’s labor union. After the wedding, the company gave them a cottage near the firm’s gate and on the To Lich river bank where my brother and I spent our earliest years living here.
That day, transportation was by far more difficult than now. My paternal Grandad had to commute by bike from Thai Binh through Nam Ha to Ha Tay, and to Hanoi for our parents’ wedding procedure. After the wedding, it was very rare to have relatives visiting and helping them due to the distances between places and even bicycles were very luxurious that very few of rural families could afford to have one. Therefore, the time of my birth also was the time my brother was sent to Thai Binh to live with our paternal Grandparents and some uncles and aunts. He lived separately with parents there for one years.
I do not have much of memory about the cottage I lived in the very first years of life. However, one picture of the yard of the house has stayed and appeared in my mind whenever thinking of the house. It was a plain soil yard with rough surface. The entrance was a short and gentle slope on the right side of the house since the land is a bit higher than the road. In the upper right corner of the yard, there was a big bombax flower tree (rice flower as we called) which blossoms big scarlet flowers in springs. In this season, the big scarlet flowers fell down and laid sparsely on the yard made it was as beautiful as a flower patterned garment. The picture of the house which stays in my mind is that is in a late afternoon, my father was sitting and repairing or making something in the yard and we were playing around.