I am home now

I am home now

At the New Jersey airport. I took the flight to Japan, Hongkong and HCMC. Photo: a nice stranger at the airport

One night in November, a friend of mine called me back and said, “I’m home now…” He just returned to his home from Cambridge.

His normal voice sounded joyful to me. I thought he was happy to be home. That thinking made me determine to return to Vietnam after I finish my first semester at Emerson College in late December.

Finally, I made it.

Now I can say the same that “I am home now in Can Tho, enjoying hanging out with my people, eating my favorite Vietnamese foods, sleeping in my peaceful home, playing with my seven dogs, doing gardening in my front yard…”

No money can buy my current overwhelmed feelings. I just wish time would stop for a while so that I can stay in Vietnam a little longer.

Any way, I am so glad that I am able to welcome the lunar New Year of 2012 with my family, my relatives, my friends and my colleagues before I get back to America.

I am enjoying making my people surprised about my untold visit. Two days before my flight with Continental early Dec 28, I told my best friend that I would come back to Vietnam at the mid night of Dec 30.

He was the only person in Vietnam knowing my return. I thought I needed to let some one close to me knowing my flight schedules for fear in the worst senario, my people would know where I was.

A few hours after I set foot back on Can Tho, I used a prepaid phone number to call my Daddy in Chau Doc, my home town, which shares the border with Cambodia and is located about 120 km away from Can Tho.

“Hello, Daddy,” I said with a very soft voice with the intention to pretend a strange caller to surprise my father.

“Alo, who are you looking for?” Exactly what I thought, my Daddy did not recognize his only daughter’s voice.

“It’s me, Daddy”, I kept saying softly on the phone.

“Sorry, but I don’t think I know you. Who are you looking for?” my Daddy kept asking me.

“It’s me, Daddy,” I kept saying the same.

“You are my daughter?” my Dad questioned me.

“Yes, I am Chau, your daughter.” I said with my true voice.

“Where are you now? Why do you use this phone number?” my Daddy asked me.

“Because I am in Vietnam,” I told him joyfully.

“You come home. Why didn’t you let me know?”

“Because I wanted to bring a nice surprise to you.”

Before calling my Daddy, I did surprise my younger brother and my Mom who could not believe I return to Vietnam. It was just because one week ago, she asked if I would be home this Tet (Lunar New Year in Vietnamese) holiday. I told her that I did want but I could not because the tickets were so expensive.

My parents and brother were not the only ones surprised with my home visit.

I made my favorite meal "canh chua ca kho to" right after I returned home. Photo: Me

On the first day of 2012, I used my familiar phone number to send a ton of New- Year-Greeting messages to my friends, relatives and colleagues.

My editor-in-chief got my message while he was drinking morning coffee with my Master and asked his best friend why he received my message from my familiar number instead of a phone number with the American code.

My Master who stood by me since I joined the press emailed me just a few hours I got home that he saw me return to Can Tho in his dream on the night before. Seeing his email, I texted him “Your dream is the reality.”

Honestly, I intended to come to Can Tho Newspaper to say “hello” to every one right on the day I got back to Vietnam. But, my sleepy eyes stopped my plan.

Returning to Can Tho exactly five months of living in the U.S, I drove my motorbike around my city and saw everything almost stayed the same. Almost every one said that I looked fatter and I changed a lot.

I am aware that I have changed a lot, especially in mind but one thing I know for sure that my heart for Vietnam would never change because living far away from Vietnam helped me recognize that “no place is like home.”

Before my life’s first journey to America in late July, I did not ever think of returning home during two years of studying in Boston. But, I changed my mind unexpectedly.

In fact, it was the friend who called me and said, “I am home now” taught me the value of the family relationship. He had lived abroad since his college graduation in 2008 but he often returned to America to see his family.

Seeing his so strong bonds with his family on Thanksgiving, I talked to myself that I must come back to see my people even though I just lived far away from them a few months and the tickets were not cheap, especially in the year-end.

I wished I had called him just to say, “I’m home now.”

  (The 5th day of my return trip, the 10th lunar December)

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