Cha Là Nhà

by , under Fiction Prompts, Friday Fictioneers

kitche-picture-prompt

 

When she opened the door of the apartment, Linh did not recognize him, though she did see something familiar in his face.

A nice face, she thought.

At first she she thought he was another American salesman who had business with her mother.

The smells of the restaurant downstairs mixed together with the usual odors of a Saigon morning that wafted through the open windows—exhaust, heating wok oil, charcoal fires, humanity.

The stranger with the nice face smiled.

“You must be Linh,” he said in English.

She did not answer.

He said it again in Vietnamese, his accent strange and stilted.

 

 

 

Usually I don’t offer any explanation of the story, but this one needs it, I think. Cha Là Nhà means “Father’s Home” in Vietnamese.  There were more than a few American servicemen with families they were forced to leave when their tour was over.

  1. kirizar

    I was going to complain that there was not enough information…and then I reread the first line. Nice that.

    Reply
  2. Caerlynn Nash

    I suspect this happened a lot in the late sixties, early seventies. I liked your line: odors of a Saigon morning wafting through the open windows—exhaust, hot wok oil, charcoal fires, humanity… This really evokes great imagery (and smells).

    Reply
    • J Hardy Carroll

      Thanks. If it were even fifty words longer, I could probably get the rest of it in. There’s a great Mishima story called Thermos Bottles that this picture reminded me of.

      Reply
      • Priceless Joy

        I understand about the word crunch leaving you unable to get it into the story. But I think it worked great just the way you did it.

        Reply
  3. Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

    Great story. The location and the first sentence gives us the full story (once you have read to the end) but you have filled it in with great use of the senses — visual pictures, the smell of the food and other odours of Saigon. This must have been quite common after the Vietnam War. Well written

    Reply
  4. rochellewisoff

    Dear J Hardy,

    The explanation did help. Although I think perhaps if he had called her daughter or she had called him father at the end it would have clarified. Either way, I liked this story a lot.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

    Reply
    • J Hardy Carroll

      I like my stories to keep secrets. I don’t think that would play that way in life, and to have one of them “break character” by saying “daughter” or “daddy” would give the scene an artificiality that would ruin its balance, I believe. The title is sufficient, but the burden is on the reader to find the translation. If this were a longer story, there would be the mother as well, and all would be revealed.

      Reply
  5. Margaret

    Brilliant. The first line gives just enough to carry the rest of the story. The title is great, and your translation helpful. I love this story.

    Reply

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