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A Happy Tết


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Perhaps it was the gorgeous sunset across the Đuôi Rồng Báo mountains, or the glistening cup of coffee in Chau’s hand, but as her hot breath floated into the cold skies above, she was devoid of all sorrow. As she ran down the snow covered steps to Hoa Trắng village, she felt light with happiness, as she could already hear the loud drum beats echoing in the mountains, as the white houses with brown tiled roofs smiled welcomingly at her, while red lanterns shined through the streets into the cheery atmosphere that was her village. Small white tufts of snow fell, when she reached the town square, crowds and vendors in every direction. She held her hijab to her hair, careful to not let it blow off in sudden gusts of wind. 

As she walked through the village square vendors beckoned at her, showing elaborate paper chickens, dragons, and tigers. The smell of Thit Kho and Lan Mee wafted into the gray tiled streets, warm with joy. As Chau walked, taking bites of her Banh Chung, she almost fell over as a lion bounded into the square roaring, with red ribbons and ropes falling off, its mouth gaping open, and drums beating ever so loud. A fat man with a pale white mask with black paint sloping over it danced in front of it, distracting the red lion from Chau as she took another bite of her Banh Chung in awe. Another lion, this one black inquisitively sniffed cabbage and oranges on the ground, as a group of people began to circle around. Some people held children and lanterns, while others ate Moo Ping and Satay. A group of children on the outskirts of the circle fought with glowing swords, screaming and yelling. The drum beat picked up at the lions began to jump and dance, dancing around. Children were lifted onto parent’s backs as they went to get a closer look. At the end of the dance the lions shed their skin to reveal there were PEOPLE inside them! 

The snow started to fall even quicker as Chau walked home. Through the village and up the steps. Past the family shrine where she could see Ba Ngoai laying a fruit bowl and incense for Ong Ngoai. Past the rose bushes, the peach trees. As the sun set behind the mountains, casting a navy blue light over the village down below, and an orange line crossed the horizon, Chau entered the home to hugs from aunts and uncles that had traveled from as far as Dinh and Cho Vang. They sat at the table eating food, Chau’s mom handing her more and more food with her chopsticks, which she gladly ate. The Rhavanese RNN Tết gala played. As she went to bed and fell asleep, surrounded by uncles and aunts on the floor beside her, she dreamt of dancing lions, huge Banh Chungs, Ong Ngoai smiling back at Ba Ngoai, and A Happy Tết.

Edited by Rhava (see edit history)
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