that while my dad was in prison for 7 years, he made it work, somehow.
He managed to smuggle in some baby chicks and ducks in order to create a more exciting and happy prison life for himself. The guards saw him just harmlessly tending to chickens and ducks so they did not mind. He told me out of 200 inmates at his camp, he was the only one who was always followed around by 4 ducks and 6 chickens.
He told me they were fed rice and he riled up the other inmates to feed his pets because there was always an excess of rice. He raised one chicken for 2 years before it died. Needless to say, during 7 years of imprisonment and shuffled through 3 camps, he experienced several generations of chickens and ducks. Other inmates questioned why he would do such a thing and he told them.. “why not? it makes life a bit more exciting.”
He also sold alcohol and treats in prison because he befriended an inmate who had special privileges to roam outside its doors.
He knew how to fish and ate fish in abundance while he was in jail as well as crab and lobster but he would always share his bounty with his friends.
He once negotiated 4 days of freedom by riling up his fellow inmates to chop and sell sugar cane for 8 million dong to the public.
He told me that when he got out, he was still handsome and together (all in one piece) so that was why my mom accepted him or else I would have not existed.
He had an injured leg in prison where for a period he couldn’t walk and he befriended a kind soul who helped bring salt and ginger so he could cover his wound with salt and vinegar paste daily in order for his leg to heal.
He fought against the viet cong during the vietnam war and since the south fell, he was imprisoned afterwards as an ex-soldier. The point is… my dad told me no matter what situation I happen to be put in, no matter how bad things get, I can always find a way. I can always be creative with the little means I have. My dad came to the US with nothing. He was placed in jail with nothing. And here he is now living in california in a home he’s partially built with the help of my mom. In every sense of the word, he’s made it. He has crafted this life for himself where he doesn’t have to worry too much financially anymore (although he is not drowning in riches); he is doing okay. I do not ask much of him as I put myself through college and I am very much an independent person of my own right… but by being able to share this conversation with my dad, watching him recount his stories of undoubtedly emotionally scarring but bittersweet yonder years…
all I can think of is… (admist laughing so hard and crying simultaneously at his stories)…
This precious man.
This loving, crafty, intelligent man who has managed to unconditionally support me, my mom, and my brother all these years. How wonderful that he’s still alive and that I get to spend time with him. He is 74 years old now. I am hoping to keep having his company for as long as I can get it.
Then I helped him update his facebook profile picture.
I felt like writing this post to document a moment I had today. That’s all.