About the burden of straw…

After a few harsh summers in Tho Ha ancient village, the fields turned yellow at the same time, and at that time, my mother prepared the sickle for the harvest. And the children born from the field always bring with them the image of a hard harvest, the rustling sound of straw in the hot summer days, collecting memories, making solid luggage to enter life… In my childhood years, I still followed my mother to carry straw after the harvest. My house has a big straw after the house, cold winter without grass, straw is used as food for cattle. The straw, after being cut from the field, is also incubated around the base of the tree to retain water and moisture.

Usually, when the harvest is finished in Tho Ha ancient village, the mother goes out to the fields to collect straw. From the afternoon of the previous day, my mother went to the fields to dry the rice straw so that the next day she could carry it home to lighten the load. I followed along, helping my mother use a rake to group the straw into mounds for her to load into the field. After the harvest, the rice straw still lingers with the scent of new rice, the sweet fragrance. When I look at my mother holding golden straws, for some reason, my mind reminds me of yellow clouds. The “clouds” that only exist in the peaceful countryside.

However, the weather is not always favorable. I remember one day that the straw had not yet dried when it rained, wet. Waiting for the straw to dry again takes a lot of time, so the mother has to put the wet straw in the field to gradually move home. How much effort of the mother the day before drifted along with the rain that flooded the fields. But in those rainy days, I had the opportunity to enjoy the joy of carrying a bucket and waiting for my mother to catch the crabs hiding under the straw. Until now, I still vividly remember the feeling of eagerness thinking about the evening meal with cool crab soup cooked with collected vegetables. I enjoy the most when I sit next to my mother to make crabs, patiently poke each crab shell to get greasy yellow bricks.

There was a time when she caught too many crabs, her mother brought them to the toad market near her house to sell them to buy fruit cakes for the two sisters in Tho Ha ancient village. I sat and fiddled with the food my mother brought home from the market and ate it deliciously. Later, I thought back to a feeling that rippled through my heart, that gift included the sweat of a beloved mother. The villagers still praised my mother for carrying the straw very well, never being scattered along the road. The burden creaked on her thin shoulders, and she turned from one side to the other. After she finished carrying rice for the house, she also carried the burden for the people in the village. My mother’s burden of straw was not much, but she still patiently collected every penny to feed my sisters and me.

I grew up, carrying with me the memory of the straw burdens that my mother carried on her shoulders, sweat soaked her mother’s faded shirt in Tho Ha ancient village. My sisters and I studied to the best of our mother’s wishes, but the rice and the money also unintentionally pushed us further and further away from our hometown. Every time I call my mother, I remember the moment when mother and daughter caught each crab in the field to cook soup with vegetables, it felt like the smell of straw was still there… My heart woke up wishing to return home mother after the harvest, to bear the burden of straw to support her for a few days…

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