America, the land of opportunity, the land where there is no poverty. That saying echoed in my dad’s mind as he stepped upon the rich land and unwittingly took my mother with him.
Before there was life, there was nothing, and then, poof! I magically appeared in the world. At least that was my assumption of how I was born early in life.
Unconsciously, I saw a big sister holding a little girl’s hand wherever she went. I thought about what my figurative older sister would be like if we were together more often, but she only appeared twice in my life. So, I followed others’ paths to hopefully fill that unknown gap in my heart.
All sorts of eyes stared at me
Sometimes, they overflowed with dopamine and wonder
Sometimes, they are nothing but marble
I could only wish I never saw them.
My mind was devoid, but Dad told me to think. Everyone calls me “smart” by then. Now I’m forced to see and think about anything, but my mind is still empty.
“Con là người Việt,” my grandmother told me. I know I am. However, the old heritage in me is crumbling away like the Parthenon succumbing to erosion. Who knew hegemony would be cruel enough to keep family members from truly understanding each other?
The girl in the picture was a caricature, I told myself.
That was not true; I really did look like that.
I hated it for not capturing what I saw in the mirror.