“Life Happens When You Least Expect It” by Tram Ho Ngoc Bao

My father stopped his motorbike in front of the door of the house. I reluctantly carried my luggage to the door with a sad face.

That was the third time I moved. I should have been acquainted with this situation, but I wasn’t. Maybe because this was the first time I did it alone. Maybe I was not ready to live independently. The homesickness was not the problem, as I could visit my family every weekend. The crucial problem was that I was afraid to move from a small village to a big city. Would my friends consider me to be a rustic girl and keep away from me? I panicked when I imagined the prospect of my life in the big city: “The Big City and the Tragedy of a Young Girl.” I’m sure that it would not turn out as well as my parents expected.

As I finished primary school, my parents decided to send me to my grandmother’s house in Hai Duong City as they wanted me to get a better education. Frankly, I don’t have a rustic background since I was born and lived for seven years in Ho Chi Minh City, the biggest city in Vietnam. I was about to move to a smaller city than my birth place. However, I seemed to lose all of my confidence after living in this small town for two years.

My mother was exacerbated by my diffidence when she forced me to wear rural clothes— a white T-shirt and jeans—to my first class. It was too simple. My friends would immediately realize that I came from the countryside. I wanted to wear my pink dress with the red ribbon. I used to wear it when I was in Ho Chi Minh City and received compliments. I believed it would make me more fashionable. But everything ended with this boring outfit.

I said “Goodbye” to my mother and got on the motorbike. Although I was upset with my mother, I still felt downhearted being away from her. My eyes filled with tears when thinking about how the alarm clock would wake me up every morning instead of my mom. I would help my grandmother cook after school instead of pampering my adorable brother.

The feeling of homesickness gradually faded as my father took me across the new road. I hadn’t seen many vehicles on the road or several luxurious stores close together for a long time. This city, although not as animated as my birth city, was much better than the old town I had left behind.

I suddenly looked at myself, and the feelings of nervousness came back and the feelings overwhelmed me again. “Can I assimilate into the new environment?” “Shortly I will be in class. how will they look at me?” I felt like a black person who would be discriminated against in a white society. The group of girls would come in front of me, curl their lips and disparage my clothes. I would find no friends there. They were already familiar with this city. They would be confident to express themselves with other classmates while I would be thinking about how to hide myself. I felt scared imagining how I would introduce myself in a short while: “Hello everybody. I am Tram Ho. I come from Kinh Mon Town”— How terrible it would be!

Tons of mixed thoughts flashed into my mind to the point that I didn’t even know the motorbike had stopped in the schoolyard. I was bewildered looking around the big and modern school; it was even larger than my old school in Ho Chi Minh City. My father promised he would wait for me outside the classroom so I could see him from the window when I was scared.

I reluctantly left my dad and walked to class. It was unexpected that no one noticed my clothes. No group of mean girls appeared. I even saw some students had the same style as me. I caught the shy glints in the eyes of others.

I timidly introduced my background— my primary school— to the class. The reality was completely different from the prospect I had imagined. My teacher excitedly said, “Kinh Mon Town is the birthplace of many millionaires in Vietnam. I hope you will be one of them in the future.”

My classmates clapped thunderously and admirably looked at me: “We are so jealous of you!” I looked at my dad waiting for me outside and smiled as my fear gradually disappeared.

After a while, I believed that the difference between several regions in the countries were not as real as I had imagined. The clothes I wore today, which I had thought were outdated, were fashionable here—and, then I thought— anywhere.

I was not the boorish girl to people here. I decided to make myself more stylish in this school. During break, I took my favorite dress (with the red ribbon) from my backpack and hurried off to the restroom to change my clothes. I was excited when thinking about how people would look at me, full of admiration. This dress was the latest trend in Saigon fashion that I had purchased at an expensive price.

I stepped out of the restroom. Everyone looked at me. I was pleased to become the center of attention. Suddenly, a student shouted loudly, “Oh my god. Where did you get it? Do you know red is the color of the countryside? It’s outdated!”

The most expected dress turned out to be the outdated one. Meanwhile, the outlet that I strongly believe to be cloddish finally became fashionable. Sometimes, things happen differently from what we expect. However, it would be boring if we could predict forthcoming events. The mystery of our future motivates us to try with all our strengths to find it out and create an amazing life.

Posted on April 21, 2017, in Short Stories Spring 2017 and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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