I'm writing a book

I’m writing a book, in my room, sitting at my old desk, looking out the window. I remember being here watching passing clouds and cats fighting on the neighbours' red roof 15 years ago when my family first moved to this house. Soon the neighbour replaced their red roof by 3 extra floors. No more clouds and fighting cats, I'm left with a flat grey concrete wall and a room without sunlight. For many years, I hated the grey wall. Now I learnt to like it for what it is, or rather, what it is meant to be. This wall is, after all, is meant to be the view a writer gets. Annie Dillard covered her window to avoid looking at the parking lot and getting distracted. I don’t have to bother with that, I can just write. 

Though sunlight can't sneak though the narrow space between two houses, the wind can. The wind brings me sound of life from out there. Far away, I hear a rooster singing, a woman’s talking to her son, a dog barking, sound of car engine and motorbike honk. It is soothing - the hum of life in a big city. Close up, I'm listening to the dry sound of the tip of my pen sliding on paper. Cheap A-pen, made in China, AIHAO 0.5mm; same kind of pen I used since junior high. Yesterday, I bought a small pot of black ink. I like having it on my desk. I imagine when my writing dries up I can open it and drink. On second though, I don’t need to. I was born with ink in my vein, like an octopus. I love the smell of black ink, the sound of pen on paper, and how the pinky side of my right hand feels when it moves across the page. 


I’m writing a book. Ms. Thuy - my family’s helper - is downstair in the kitchen grinding peanuts and mushrooms to make vegetarian meatballs. We’re two happy women. Ms. Thuy is a widow. Her husband died when she turned 40, leaving her with 3 sons. A countryside woman with no education, she did everything she could to grow them. She worked the rice field, made tofu, sold noodle. Now when her sons are well-off with family of their own, she doesn’t want to depend on them. Ms. Thuy signed up to be a family’s helper. Once she told me, with a hint of pride, that one admirer gave her a ring. “But he’s too romantic,” she frowned. Ms. Thuy rather stays with the one thing in life she loves: she cooks. 

I’m writing a book; Ms. Thuy’s making vegetarian meatball. She loves cooking and she feels happy watching others eating her food. I love writing and I feel happy knowing that someone is reading my words. We’re two happy women. It doesn’t matter how different our lives are, as long as we hold onto what brings us joy - as long as I’m writing and she’s cooking - we are alright. 

Milena NguyenComment