I AM YOUR
gave birth to me while being destitute:
or cassava doubling rice each meal to suit.
egg-plants and peanuts since childhood,
had got accustomed to the poor people’s food.
crabs from the paddy-fields that you fried,
goby from inundation that you cooked dried,
chunks of taro you prepared with rousong,
sundry veg…, that with my youth got along.
sweet potato buds, with prawns as spices,
soured shrimps, with bamboo shoot slices,
grilled pancakes smelling jackfruit, thyme,
familiar dishes… I remember all my lifetime.
stormy days, on the salver were boiled eggs;
summer, water spinach for broth without dregs;
bit of pickle was enough for a quick repast…
you Mama always remained alone the last.
are rich, their cats have delicacies to try;
was Mama’s cat, only meagre dishes did satisfy.
content with my lot that feasts I did not enjoy,
seeming kittle as a too coshered boy.
now that I have been a hemisphere away,
do not know when I will come back and stay
on the straw fire under smoke you stoop
cook with anchovies the eve tamarind soup.
that warmth is added to my empty existence:
bliss will appease my heart in this distance,
the cooking smelling the new harvest rice,
for me a crisp piece of burned rice as a price.
a lost young child lonely in a strange land,
whirled along means of living’s demand,
feel so anxious for Mama against the door-case
by the food tray always longing to see my face.
Translation by Thanh-Thanh