Life Life

19/02/2020 - 11:17

I have a river of my own

My first look at the Perfume river was through the small window on a wooden boat carrying people from my village to Hue when it arrived at Dong Ba Wharf.

Crossing the river. Photo: Nhat Long

The river in the city was certainly more crowded and vivid than the small river at my village. It was the scene of the boats carrying people from various villages, the scene of people taking a bathe or washing clothes on the other side of the river, where there were wharves which looked so charming with stone steps, and the scene of boys of about my age plunging from Gia Hoi bridge into the river, which were both eye-pleasing and frightening. 

At my village, we also take a bathe and plunge into the river, but the distance between the riverbank and the water was closer, unlike the distance from Gia Hoi Bridge to the Perfume river. But what gave me, as a child at the time, the happy and strange feeling were the high buildings and the sounds of engine from motorbikes on the streets near the river. 

I finally saw the city which the people in my village often called Dinh. Taking a boat to Dinh meant to Hue. 

After more than one day in Hue, we had to go back home in the village. That night, my father, his two children, and some other people spent the night on the boat. The Perfume river at night looked so beautiful with high-voltage lights alongside the river and colorful lights from the boat houses on the river. I listened to people, hard-working farmers, talking about the pleasures on the river at night that they had heard about but never experienced.

The engined boat slowly left Dong Ba Wharf, then ran under Gia Hoi Bridge. I stood at the prow, feeling regretful that I had to leave the bustling and beautiful scene of the town alongside the river 

To me, the Perfume river is so beautiful, so gorgeous like a city girl that I just can behold and love in silence. I always feel light-hearted when looking at the river from Vong Canh Hill, Thien Mu Pagoda, or on the bridges over the river. The water in the river is always full and green, even in droughts. 

The Perfume river is at its best in summer when colorful flowers are in bloom on its both sides. I wrote this when seeing flamboyant trees blending their red color with the green color of the river: “Sông Hương có nói chi mô- Chỉ là hoa nở bên bờ rứa thôi...” (The Perfume river says nothing/ It is just because of the flowers in bloom on its both sides...”)

But, maybe, because my first touch at the river was on the boat taking people to Hang Be, Gia Hoi, Dong Ba, the section that I like best of the river is from Truong Tien Bridge to Dong Ba Market with one distributary to Con Hen and the other to Gia Hoi, then down to Bao Vinh. My friends prefer the section from Bao Vinh to Gia Hoi because they know they are going downtown. 

In retrospect, I think the river that I am attached to most is the Perfume river, but not the O Lau river at my village. It is because of my innumerable times of boating on the river and dreaming with the river. The place where I worked before was near the river too, so close that I could see the rain drops and the color of the sun on the river and hear its whispers despite the sunny or rainy seasons, the clear or muddy water.

I once wrote an article about the Perfume river, which won lots of praise from a respectable man of mine. I remember a certain poet wrote: “Hương ơi có phải nàng không- Sông ấy chắc là mình có.” (Is that you the Huong river? / I have a river of my own.” So do I. I always have the Perfume river in me with lots of love. 

By Phi Tan