Saturday, February 20, 2010

Tran Duc

There was this guy, see, who was walking down the street, when a stranger with thick glasses approached, shook his hand, and took him to his house, where there was a rooster under a basket in the front room.

Waiting for the punch line?

It seems there might be one there somewhere, except this really happened early in our visit to Vietnam.

Kim was having her hair done, when I went for a walk down a street, a lane really, where I had never gone. Like many streets in the village, these neighbors were poor -- they had no money, and little more than a tin roof over their heads and a concrete floor, if they were lucky, under their feet.

That's where I ran into Tran Duc, a 64-year-old retired school teacher.

It seemed that Duc only wanted to befriend a guy who looked so obviously out-of-place. He introduced me to his son, and his grandchildren, and gave me a can of cold Pepsi.

We exchanged mailing addresses, I took several photos of his family, shook hands and left.

Later, I recounted the story of my new friend with my wife and her family, who knew about the retired teacher.

That was nearly two weeks ago. Today, I returned to Tran Duc's house and surprised him as he was having his morning soup. He seeemed just as happy to see me as the first time. This time Kim was with me and she was able to translate what his limited English and my even more limited Vietnamese failed to convey.

I had been moved that this poor man had shared a can of soda with a stranger that I wanted to do something for him. I brought him copies of the photos of his family.

We wished each other good luck and promised that we would write.

There's only one thing that I still don't know. What the heck was a rooster doing in the front room? Maybe one day I'll ask him.


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