Part 1:  The village and The Little Girl

I lived with my mum in a mountain area until I was about three years old. Then, my mum told me that I would have to leave home in the next few days, I told her I did not want to go but mum said she could not do anything. She said it was our life that when we were old enough, we needed to move to another family.

A few days later, when that day came, I was put in the back of a little truck. I had a long trip that day. I left my home since the sun came over the horizon and I arrived in a little village just before the sun set.

I arrived at a small house located halfway to the little mountain. The owners were a young couple. They were standing in front of their house waiting for me. I supposed this was my new home when I got out of the truck.

Then, a few moments later three kids came out and looked at me. Two boys just looked at me and went back inside the house, but the little girl stood there and stared at me. Then she smiled at me, and she said something to her father.

The village market opens every morning from 5 AM to 9 AM.

Her father smiled and nodded his head. He led me down to the rice field nearby with the little girl and he left me there alone with the little girl. She started staring at me again while I was grazing. She kissed me, hugged me and she stood very close to me.

I was tired and hungry, I just wanted to eat something and rest, but this girl was running around, and this was annoying me. Suddenly she cried out loud. The sound scared me. I was clumsy and did not know what was happening. Then her father ran down to the field and stood next to us. He hit me on my foot and ordered me to lift my foot up. I then realised the little girl’s foot was under my foot. “Poor girl, it must be very painful”, I felt guilty.

She was still crying even though I did not step on her foot anymore. Then her father told her something and he even whispered in her ear. He held my lead-rope and ordered me to stand still for a moment. Then, the little girl was very close to me again.

While I was standing still, she put her foot on top of my foot and she said something then her father let me go. She stopped crying and laughed again. I did not understand what had just happened, but they let me continue grazing the grass. She was a funny little girl. Tears were still in her eyes, but she was smiling and laughing with her father.

That day, I was tired, I missed my mum, and I was hungry. So, I just grazed some grass while the little girl was sitting on my back.

When the sun set, I finally could see my new little hut. It was under a bamboo bush behind a garden. A little hen lived in a little nest up near the roof, her name was ‘Ga Mai To*’. I was glad to have a friend with me that night because I missed my mum and my home dearly. ‘Ga Mai To’ talked to me for a while and she left me alone to rest as she knew I was tired.

I found my home

Ga Mai To’ and I talked almost every night when I got home from the field. In the first few weeks I missed my mum a lot, I missed my previous owner too.

The previous owner was a quiet and gentle man. He was very kind to me and Mum. Because I never met my father, Mum and the owner were the only family I had.

I liked the little village where I lived now, it had many rice fields around and it also had a small mountain nearby. The village was a bit like the old village where I used to live with mum. I started to like my new owner, they were kind to me, but their three kids were a bit noisy for me.

When I was with my mum, the owner was very quiet and pleasant to be with. Whereas the kids here were very noisy and they climbed up to my back from my head, from my stomach or even from my tail.

After a while, I got used to it and liked to live here with the little girl and her family. Even though they were noisy and cheeky, I now loved it when the kids were with me in the rice field. I loved it when three of them were sitting on my back and they sang some funny songs and laughed, I really enjoyed those moments. I felt this was my home now. I loved my little hut and my friend ‘Ga Mai To’ as well.

The Feast

The little girl was very funny and she was very happy to be with me when I first came. She laughed and talked to me a lot while we were in the rice fields together. But then a few months later, she often cried and sometimes was angry at me for no reason.

One time she was crying a lot, but I could not do anything. The only thing I could do for her was to walk slowly while I was eating. Then she fell asleep on my back. So I guessed she was tired from crying. I just ate the grass on the path at the edge of the rice fields.

Then, I accidentally chomped a few rice plants which were sticking up near the edge of the path. The taste of the young rice was so sweet, I could not stop myself anymore. The little girl was sleeping on my back so she could not stop either.

I knew it was wrong to eat the rice in the field, because Mum told me a million times: “don’t eat the rice” before, but Mum wasn’t here to stop me either.

Whilst the little girl was sleeping on my back, I had to go slowly into the rice field, I loved the rice, but I also worried about the little girl. I did not want her to fall off my back and hurt herself. I tried to be gentle when I went into the rice field. I loved the young rice…. Oh, I enjoyed them so much! Even now when I am thinking of the taste at that time, I still want to eat them one more time.

In the rice field, some people were near us. They came closer to where we were, but they did not chase me away or stop me. I thought they were allowing me to eat the rice, so I continued with my feast. Then, they called the little girl’s name out. They made a lot of noise, but the little girl slept so deeply, she did not hear them.

When people were making the noise, it scared me a bit, I ate and walked a bit faster and then people stopped making noises. So I enjoyed my meal again.

I could see my owners arrived there shortly. They called their daughter’s name, but she did not answer. She was asleep. I made some noises to tell the people and the little girl’s parents to be quiet. She was tired, and she needed some sleeps. But I did not think they understood me.

The little girl woke up when the sun nearly set. She was very surprised when she saw all the people standing on the paths around the rice field. Then, she realised we were in the middle of the field, so she quickly took me to the path.

 I still wanted to eat more rice plants, but she stopped me from eating. My feast was over I guessed. I went home to my hut and told my friend about the day. I told her about the little girl’s cry and my feast with the young rice plants. ‘Ga Mai To’ was different from my mum, she did not say that I was wrong to eat rice plants. She said, “I would enjoy my meal if I were you”.

* ‘Ga Mai To’ is the general name for young hens in Vietnamese. Vietnamese people didn’t often name their animals or livestock in the old days.