Monthly Archives: December 2013


I was quite small when I asked my Mum to teach me to knit. Dad carved my first pair of knitting needles out of two wooden chopsticks. He made sure they were not pointed so that I wouldn’t hurt myself. We were poor at the time so Mum could only let me knit with jute threads, which were not as soft as woollen ones. Neither as smooth. Very often, the threads got caught on rough surface of the handmade non-polished needles. Knitting was so slow and painful then, but I loved it. I admired my mum’s fast and effortless way when she did magic with the threads. “One day I would probably be that good.”

Things changed very fast in Vietnam in the 90s. Soon enough, I was able to get hold of soft woollen threads and polished needles. I was good enough to put my personal touch on different knitting projects. When I had my first boyfriend, I knitted him a scarf with his favourite football team’s name and color – scarf Juve. I was pleased. So was he! Then I moved on to a more ambitious project: a sweater. I started slowly. A winter had come and gone. Mum got impatient when I took out my kit on forty-something- degrees summer days. She stopped knitting things to sell as soon as we had enough money for food and everything else. She did not knit at all then. That summer also passed. I had been with him for five more summers, but the project sweater never came to an end.

I picked up knitting again when I was in the middle of crisis in England. I clung to it to keep my mind at peace. I learnt to follow knitting patterns. I bought needles of different sizes, luxurious yarn, and pattern books. I planned projects. I finished them. They were less about achievement and more about mediation. When I broke up with my first bf, I even knitted another scarf Juve as an odd way of moving toward closure. I missed Mum picking mistakes over my shoulders on scorching summer afternoons when I had to wipe sweat off my nose more often than knit. I longed for such summer afternoons when I felt the warmth coming from soft wool on freezing English evenings. I knew that I needed to go home to fix dropped stitches.

When I left England, I couldn’t take the knitting kit with me. I had to leave behind so many pieces that once made up my life there. I didn’t regret. l learnt to let go. I came home to see Mum become a grandmother. I hope she will pick up her knitting needles again, because our little Gau will need some sweaters.


Doboro the tiger who does not have a tail

Doboro the tiger was born without a tail. Baby foxes, white rabbits, evil cobras, red-face monkeys, and many others in the jungle laughed at him because he does not have a tail. One evening, Doboro came to see his mother.

I don’t want to be here anymore. Everyone makes fun of me having no tail. I am no tiger. I will go, and live on my own so I will bear no more laughter.”, said Doboro.

Mother talked to Doboro with her loving voice and her warm eyes.

Doboro, you are perfect the way you are. Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise. But if you want to leave, you should go. You should see the world out there. When you come back, and I know you will, tell me what you find.”

Doboro did not agree with all that mother said. But she said he could leave. So he pushed his head again her front left thigh to say goodbye, and set off.

Doboro traveled through the night, the following day, and many more moons. He saw the jungle getting thin and sparse. He saw different colors of trees, flowers, and butterflies. There were white face monkeys where he wondered past. Somewhere along the way, Doboro was amazed to see a crowded herd of ginger antelopes with gigantic plum color bony horns. They strolled across his way leaving behind deep three-toe hooves’ prints. Doboro remembered that antelopes always had even-toes in mother’s stories.

I got to tell mother about this. ” thought Doboro.

The jungle grew dense again. Moths were bigger and had darker color. Small streams criss-crossed the jungle’s bed giving out cold water for Doboro in his thirst. Days were dark because the sunlight failed to get through weaving layers of branches and leaves. One day, it was so dark that Doboro ran into a brown bear. He bounced back to a tree whose branches stuck out to scratch all over him – the intruder. The brown bear rose from his nap or siesta like they called it where Doboro was from.

Are you alright, little tiger?”, asked the brown bear.

Sorry. I didn’t see you there. It was dark and I was thinking of home.” said Doboro apologetically.

“Where is your home?”, asked the brown bear concerning.

It is quite far from here. It is sunny and butterflies are orange there.”, said Doboro with a hint of homesickness.

Are you on your way home then?”, asked the brown bear sympathetically.

No. Not yet. Mother said I should see the world.”. Doboro replied.

Then you should travel east toward the big river. If you ever find Billy the turtle, send my greetings. Now I wish to get back to my nap.”. The brown bear said and dozed off.

Doboro turned east and travelled a few more days. Maybe weeks. He couldn’t quite know because the days were too dark to tell the nights. But Doboro remembered when the lights started flowing down his path. Leaves were glimmering. His path got wider and wider until he heard sound of a flowing river. Unfolding ahead was light green grass and sparkling water under the bright sunlight. Doboro came close to the river. In the water, he saw his reflection. His muscles were tight. His hair grew long. There were many scratches.

“There was still no tail. “

He thought pitifully. But his thought was quickly interrupted by a flock of fish jumping off the water. They looked emerald under the sunlight.

No. Wait. They are emerald. How strange!”, thought Doboro.

“They are beautiful, aren’t they? ” said a soft voice.

Doboro turned around to see a turtle. He was as old as the jungle.

“Are you Billy the turtle?”, asked Doboro hesitantly.

“Yes, I am. And you are?”, said Billy.

“I am Doboro the tiger without a tail”, said Doboro embarrassingly.

“Doboro is a nice name. What are you doing here?”

“Mother said I should travel to see the world. The brown bear said I should see the big river. He sent his greetings to you.”

“What have you seen in the river then? Is the brown bear still sleeping all day?”

He was having a nap when I met him. I saw myself in the river, then I saw the flying emerald fish”.

Then you have found what you are looking for, Doboro.”, said Billy the turtle.

Doboro looked at Billy confusingly. Then he looked at the water again. Here he stood with his muscles, his long hair, his scratches, and still without a tail. The reflection fragmented when another emerald fish jumped off. There and then, Doboro realized that it was time to go home and told Mother about the world that he has seen, the people that he has met, and that very reflection of him in the big river. Still no tail.