Thirty years ago, I met you in "ma soeur" cafeteria, in a cadavre dissection,in the huge auditorium well lit with strange spotlights, in the incomprehensible lectures of "out of real life figures": professor Anatomy Kinh, assistant professor "Tin Tin" and his French spoken" boss who seemed looking like Moses in the bible, the flamboyant Biochem PhD to whom I looked up with awe but now figured out he was making more noise than real carbohydrates and fatty acids, then professor Vy in Physio who kept shaking his head, lastly Madame Dai resembling a witch with a frozen smile among her test tubes, gas burner and pot. We met in the hallways lying on the floor taking a napcat. I met you at a glance of your eyes, shy in your "ao dai trang". I met you in your full blossoming years and vitality.I met you at the age of 19 who had no idea what dating meant and was told pretty female med students were rare species, only used for special religious offerings; perhaps Macabe. Frustrated, we turned our attention to the dental hallway where girls were prettier but were well guarded and marked in their territory by the special scent of their male counterparts. We were disappointed but resigned to follow them with our hungry eyes.
Then, 30-4 violently shattered our cherished and tiny world, our lives would never be the same. I met you again; this time, your innocent and youthful look was replaced by fear and sorrow; your free spirit and smile disappeared. We were degraded to elementary shool as though we were kids, sitting on the floor in a circle and sang all day long.You confided to me that you had a headache and bad dream. I looked in your eyes conveying my sympathy with a broken heart.
At last, a short, round guy showed up one day to lecture us on Embryology and told us to look up a rare book at the library that I suppose he never had as a teaching tool, only to find out to his surprise that we each had a similar copy for our own leisure use.One day, our clasmate, a high ranking communist secretariat suggested you would become an excellent Acupuncturist-M.D because your dad was practicing chinese acupuncture and that I would become a great epidemiologist because according to her Machiavellian way, I must have drawn beautiful Garcia and Toxo Gondi. But ma'am, I protested," you never saw my messy notebook". That day, we agreed Newton's Law of Gravity no longer holds and the Cosmos and the galaxies are rearanging their places in the universe. We shut up and went home to shine our own lucky stars.
I met you in Virginia, in Richmond, in Chapel Hill, in community college, in Little Saigon, in San-Diego, everywhere; still reeling from the dangers of South China sea which devoured thousands of Boat people ; still F.O.B.( fresh of the boat) with shattered dream and broken English. Poor in finance but generous in heart, you weaned me my first trying steps in this new land. We are like young eagles overjoyed with newfound freedom, courageously trying out new wings to become honest and decent people, walking different walks of life but keep friends close to our heart. Indeed, we are a special group of people, one of a kind: in a nutshell, bound together by the misfortune of the history, the unforgettable school and the wonderful friendship.
I meet you again, perhaps next year and many years to come. Me and you, destiny has been set, heavenly stars have lined up perfectly. Misery, laughter, romance, flirting, Lenin-Marx and labor camp, all have been cooked up 30 years ago in the Micro lab and the pot, namely Y-Nha 74, is still hot and full of flavors.
Dương Quang Tuấn