Cha Là Nhà



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.