Enclosed in my suitcase on my return trip to Vietnam were a bunch of presents for Huyen's family. One of the presents I had was for Viet Huong, Huyen's nephew. My mother bought Viet Huong a copy of her favorite children's book, "The Runaway Bunny" by Margaret Wise Brown.
I gave the book to Viet Huong on Saturday and he looked less than interested. He can't read English and the book was less exciting to him than the licroice Nibs I gave him (which he didn't end up liking!). Well, the next day Huyen and I met up with her family again for the anniversary of her great grandmother's death. We drove out to her Uncle's house and spent the afternoon with her mother, brother, sister, brother-in-law, nephew, great grandmother, grandparents, aunts and cousins. When I first saw Viet Hoang that day he was still clutching the book. This made me feel a lot better that my mother had chosen a good gift for him. Well, it got even better.
After lunch Viet Huong came up to Huyen and sat on her lap. He handed her the book and asked her to translate it for him. We ended up having story time. Five children gathered around us and we began to read the book. I would read a page in English and Huyen would then translate in Vietnamese while I showed off the pictures. To say the children were mesmerized would be an understatement. When we finally finished reading, Viet Hoang announced, "I'm going to runaway!"
Reading the book out loud took on additional meaning for me. For those of you who haven't read the book (and you should yell at your mom for not reading it to you) it's about a bunny who runs away from home but is always followed by his mother. The lesson is that no matter where you go your mother will be with you. I wouldn't say that I've run away from home but I'm 10,000 miles away from [REDACTED]. And while my mother isn't physically following me around the globe, she's obviously always in my thoughts.
But reading the book this past Sunday took on even more meaning. While at her family's house, Huyen's sister was giving me a hard time about one day moving to America with Huyen. Huyen's sister is already mad at her other sister because she lives in Hue, about a fourteen hour bus ride away. To say she isn't happy with the notion of her sister being a 24 flight away would be putting it lightly. Huyen's family obviously wants her to stay in Vietnam and it's going to be really hard when she and I eventually live in America. Being a "run away bunny" isn't easy for anyone!