In this excerpt of digital magazine, this is for mẹ, Truc Ho shares a letter to their mother, infused with memories of living, longing, and loving. It is a letter to their first home, their mother.
this is for mẹ is a digital magazine for Vietnamese and API identified people to discuss mothers, motherhood, motherlands, mother-tongues and family.
I remember standing at Hy’s 5th birthday party,
looking at the shiny balloons and thinking,
“ah, she looks so small in her purple princess dress,”
how many hands does it take to raise a woman?
hands, putting on scratchy pink dresses and cotton tees
soft hands, caressing overheating forehead
strong grips around small fingers, as mopeds zoomed pass,
patient hands, feeding every spoon of rice,
gentle push on the hammock, soft hums,
mom, did you know?
I have never known a world in which you did not exist,
your hands have always found mine.
There are so many moments, where I feel like my love for you would spill out of my chest. I remember:
- When we drove home from Sundays dimsum, and you looked at the rows of new apartments on Rainier Avenue and said “I remember when I would walk to work, looked at people houses and think, I wish we could have a home, even a small one, as long as it is ours”.
- Your bright smile when Chi Vy translated how the homeroom teacher complimented me at my elementary school graduation.
- We took a walk on that cold day in June, and I took thirty eight photos of you standing next to bright pink rose bushes before we went home, cheeks red and sore from laughing.
- Laggy facetime calls in Thailand, all I could hear was your voice asking if I had eaten.
- You cleaned my room that Tuesday, and replied no when I asked if you opened my closet. You’re terrible at acting surprised when I gave you the twenty bottles of lotions that you carefully lined in the “mom’s birthday gifts” box.
- When I spelled “banana” in Vietnamese wrong, and you laughed so hard, the your eyes crinkled and the corners of your lipstick smear.
All these moments, tucked away in the cupboard of my heart, I remember.
Truc Ho is an undergrad at the University of Washington, majoring in Environmental Studies and Comparative History of Ideas. Truc was born in Saigon and raised in Seattle. Their experience with being in between cultures and identities inspired a lot of their research, rooting them in the academic exploration of the structural relationships between history, memory and war, particular in relation to the Vietnam War. Currently, they are planning post-graduation travels, exploring fictional writing, and looking into master programs where they can deep diver into Southeast Asian queer diaspora studies.