Past love

by - October 29, 2022

Dad Pham had been in love withs someone else before he met Mum Pham.

On one of his reflective days, he told me a bit about her. They met at the US Culture Wellness Centre in Vietnam. He said she has a round face like Mum Pham, like me. That made me laugh. Boyfriend Pham has taken to calling me moon-face because in a moment of self-doubt, I wondered if he and I looked similar in anyway. I don't want to be one of those couples who look like siblings. He reminded me I am Vietnamese, and he is Australian. Also, the only thing we have in common is I have a big round face, and he has a small round face. We only have moon-faces in common. Phew.

Dad told me after the American war in Vietnam he had to flee and he asked his first love to come with him. But they weren't married so it was improper and she chose to stay with her family rather than flee. He loved her and would have married her if he'd stayed.

The two of them got in touch a number of years after Mum Pham passed. They started off with snail mail, then I was given an email address and started scanning Dad's handwritten letters and sending them. There was back and forth for a time while they caught up on each other's lives since the war. Eventually Dad does what his schizophrenia always does, and he moved onto the next phase and stopped writing. He didn't see the point since he would never go back to Vietnam, and she would never come to Australia.

Mum Pham used to speak of another woman Dad met while he was a refugee in Singapore. They parted ways because she left for America and Dad didn't want to go there. Instead, he went to Germany where he became an interpreter and met Mum Pham.

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