Part 3 – A Happy Time, The Distance, and Home again

A Happy Time

When I had my third child, I could not go to the rice field during the day. I was hungry almost every day. I often went to the rice field at night and the little girl sat on my back. Her mother would be in front of us. The little girl’s mother cut grass while I was grazing.

Some of my friends were in the field at night too. They said they were very hungry during the day. They did not understand why we could not go to the field during the day like before. I didn’t really care. I wanted to eat and then went home with my child.

The little girl was nervous when she was sitting on my back. She often whispered to her mother and the other people when she heard a strange noise or someone’s footsteps. Summer nights were cool, and I was fed well. I slept during the day with my child. During the day, in the hut, we had the grass that the little girl’s mother had cut the night before. My little one enjoyed chewing her first grass.

Eventually, the rice was harvested. The field was empty, we could go back to the field during the day. We could get into the rice field and eat the rice sprouts. We could sink ourselves into the water or the mud and enjoy our time. It was a happy time!

The Distance

It was about 10 winters since I lived in the little girl’s house. The little girl was busy with her school and her homework. When she was with me, she did not talk much like before. She said she wanted to do well at school, and she wanted to go to university (even now I have no idea what that means).

One night, she went to my hut very late. She told me about her feeling with a boy in her class.  She said she liked him a lot and she even wrote a letter to him. Then, she cried. I guessed she was just like my kids, just being weird when they got older. For instance, my kids did not listen to me. Sometimes I thought without my owners my kids would disappear without me knowing it.

The little girl did not sit on my back anymore. She took me to the field but just led the rope in front of me. She did not talk to me or my child. She was very quiet and had her own thoughts. I often peeked at her while I was grazing grasses. Sometimes I tried to get her attention, but it didn’t work.

Then, the little girl’s mother who often took me to the fields, not the little girl or sometimes one of her brothers would take me instead. I could see her on her bicycle going to school from the nearby rice field. She was a young woman now, not a little girl anymore. I felt sad when I could not see her often. All of my kids left home to find their own home, I sometimes felt lonely in my home.

Home again

I spent less and less time on the rice fields with my owners. Most of the time I was out on my own when rice was harvested. Everyone in the family was busy with their own things.

The little girl’s parents had a little truck. Her father used the truck to carry things around the village instead of me and my cart. They then had more ducks, then pigs, then chickens. The little girl’s mother was busy feeding them all. The little girl and her brothers went to school every day. They spent the whole day in school.

Then, one day the little girl came to the hut and talked to me again. I was so happy to see her, but she told me that she was sorry that she did not have time for me and that her parents decided to sell me to another house. She hugged me after a long time. I had missed her smile, her hug, and her voice.

A few days later, a big truck came to our house and took me to the new home. I did not know my new owner was the neighbour of my mum’s owner until I arrived in the village.

Sometimes I think of my little girl…

I am now back in my old village. Even though my mum is not here anymore, I am now back in my hometown. I met one of my children the other day, I also met one of my brothers. I am happy to be where I am now. My new owner is an old lady. She often takes me to the mountain at the back of our house. She lets me go up the mountain and I will come back when the sun sets.

Sometimes I still think of my little girl. I hope she has a happy life like I have now. I might see her one day or maybe I might see her in my next life…

If you like the buffalo story series, here are some books for children about Vietnamese culture: