22:31 - Jan 23rd, 2023 as the Second first day of the Lunar New Year
Today, I went to my uncle’s house for “Happy New Year customs” as part of the Tet holiday celebration. While the adults were sitting inside exchanging wishes for the new year and talking about life and people, I huddled around with the children on the porch to play cards. From playing “Tien len” (a kind Of blackjack in Vietnam), only Tom kiddo (my nephew) and I know how to play, we changed to playing three-card poker or Om Ba Cay to have 4 players. Profile 4 players: Tom kiddo - a 5th grader, Co - a 3rd grader (a friend of Tom), Cuu - a 1st grader (my niece), and Ms. Tra - a 3rd-year university student. While I was adding points of the cards to see whose ears were to be flicked, I heard a relative’s wife's voice. I didn't mean to listen but people were talking so loudly so it just hit my ears. 🙂
- A 3rd-year college student sitting here playing cards with kids?
Yes, she’s in her junior year, my mom replied.
- Seeing her sitting with those kids, I thought she was a middle school student or something.
After playing for a while, I said I was bored and asked if Tom had any other games to play. Tom asked:
- Do you wanna play badminton? I have a pair.
Now, moving to another scene of Tet, relating to my love life.
So Tra, do you have a boyfriend? one asked (like many others).
I don’t yet.
You're just kidding, maybe there are dozens of guys queuing in line already.
Happy new age, Tra. Wish you a lover this year.
Tra, how old are you this year? When are you going to have a wedding party?
These lines have played with an increasing frequency in recent years, to the point where I have memorized them. As for me, I even have the capacity to think about how and what I should say in response to avoid repetition. 🙂
To be honest, I'm not upset or angry at all. At the beginning of the Lunar New Year, people often wish each other luck, so wishes for a lover or getting married are also blessings. When people give me lucky money, I still happily receive it with "thank you" not "No thanks, I'm not a kid anymore". When anyone wishes me a boyfriend or a husband, I laugh “khikhi” as a response and then continue with fun conversations.
At your age, in the past, people were already married holding a few children in their hands.
It is true that in the old days, people got married and had children early. Now it is more like:
- They still have to study and strive. Being in marriage early just wastes their life.
Although there are no officially specific written rules, there is always an age frame for each life stage in the mind of everyone, generally speaking. As for boys, after completing 12 years of high school, going to college, or going to work and further pursuing a career till 30 years old, they will settle down, and have children after a few years. As for girls, there is no need for a demanding career. If she goes to university, she can get a job after graduation, then get married at the age of 24-25. If she doesn't go for higher education, she should get married early. I don't know how it is in other places, but that's the common mindset of people I have talked to. Of course, for those who have great will to strive, it's okay to get married later. After getting married is raising children while dedicating to work. A little older, when reaching middle age, one is to retire, go out or take care of grandchildren. Then, enjoying the peace of mind in old age.
That said, I also get to meet a lot of people who are old in age but still have fun from “youth” interests. One day I watched VTV, there were two 70-year-old men who are backpackers traveling around Vietnam; my younger friend told stories about her grandmum who is over 60 and still drove her motorbike fast and furiously; my uncle, nearly 60 years old, seeing us playing cards, then still came in to play. Aging means becoming an old man or an old woman with a stick, stooping, coughing a few times, stroking one’s beard a few times, then staying around at home? Some people think that staying at home is the best in the later stages of life, yet, there are people who only enjoy traveling from places to places, interacting with people.
It turns out that the ages of "reaching this age is to..." are socially constructed ages, not the ones reflecting a person's real age, and not expressing one’s wishes and needs. Tra is turning 22 this year, the 22 that might not be the 22 that some expect. Yet, it doesn't change the fact that I'm heading to my 22, and that I still get excited every time I play childish games. That’s why when the library opened the crossword puzzle game, I was all in playing until I won. Then I received a box of chocolates given by Dr. Tin as the first prize.
A few days before Tet, my friends flocked to my house to have karaoke, all of them clamored and sang the chorus the loudest:
"Don't ask me if I'm not married
Don't ask me if I'm not married
I'm not married this spring
I still don't want to get married yet."
<Original Vietnamese lyrics from a song by Bich Phuong:
“ Đừng ai hỏi em chưa lấy chồng
Đừng ai hỏi em chưa lấy chồng
Mùa xuân này em chưa lấy chồng
Em vẫn chưa muốn lấy chồng.”>
There is an old Vietnamese saying: "Trẻ không chơi già đổ đốn” meaning “Not enough playing at one’s young age, going to pot at old age", so “Mị còn trẻ, Mị còn muốn đi chơi", “I'm young and free, I still want to hang around".
I don’t act my age but act my own age.
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