The mother

I climbed up to the first floor and opened gently the door to our bed room; the small child and her mother were sleeping there, calmly. The other room was still open; my son was sleeping also. He forgot to turn off the light. I looked around the room, his desk, the bed, to find the Ipad. I did not see it. Good sign, so far. He was playing too much with the Ipad these days. We could not stop him using it; sometimes he also needed the Ipad for some learning, at least following him. Our rule was that he could use Ipad, but not that stick to it all the time, particularly not to go to bed at night with the Ipad, which means he would not sleep at all. He was ten years old and I found taking care of him could be even more chaotic than of his two years old sister. The most difficult task was to find him a decent- God knows what decent means- school. In this aspect, we were still old-style comparing to our friends who sent all their children to private international school. He was going to a public school, a kind of having some good reputation in the district. To do that, we had fortunately not paid too much, only around 50 millions VNĐ or 2000 USD, quite a fair price thanks to the help of Trang’s uncle who had some connection in the District Education Office. Of course we had to provide them as gift some bottles of brandy, but of that I had a quite few naturally. In this country, the more important you are, not yet in my case, the bigger your cave is. However the somehow more disturbing stuff, if I could say, was that the uncle would like me to help him on something that I was not that very at ease with. In Vietnam we were far more connected than other countries in the world.

I turned off the light of my son’s room and climbed upstair to my study room, my sanctuary, no one came here normally. I found my way to the big book case in in the middle of the room, plenty of books, too many useless books in the upper shelves. I opened a cabinet on the lower left hand side, a little bit hidden behind the desk and the armchair. Two levels, each with lines of bottles appeared. Good. The few bottles downstair in the living room did all well their decoration job. I took out one, a Glenfiddich, a reindeer, a single malt Scotch could help. I fell myself on the chair, grabbed a nearby crystal glass, poured one out and sipped quietly, felt the spirit that touched my lip, itched my tongue, slowly infitltrated into all of my mouth and calmly burnt my throat.

I touched the keyboard to wake the laptop up, entered a series of password, waited patiently for Chrome to be started, and hit f for Facebook.

The first newsfeed is that of Trung Bao Nguyen showing a photo of the mother of blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh (Me Nam). Her daughter was jailed without any judgement since 8 months. The mother was sitting, quietly, holding on her hand a white peace of paper with some handwriting words encouraging her daughter. Her eyes were looking slightly in the air, speechless. Was she praying or was she looking at me?

I reached for the bottle.

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