Le Ba Dang
Art Foundation

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MY COUNTRY IS A PICTURE

There are immense green fields; there are plantains and bamboo branches playing with the wind. There is a rich variety of colors to be seen around plain houses; there is poverty hidden behind the bamboo and cassava groves. They bring about the pure flavor of my hometown, which is the origin of numerous things I could vividly relive in a foreign country.

Has anyone still remembered the very first grains that the branches were laden with, or the slight aroma of fresh rice? And the green grass, and the yellow old paddies… And the village paths, and the commons and the tired-looking pagodas… Words just fail me to faithfully reflect the simplicity and poverty yet clarity and purity of my hometown!

Whatever is loyal and mysterious like rituals or natural sentiments would last long in the hearts of those who live far away from home before emerging into the arts – does it just happen that way? What a shame to see national traditions and spiritual essence gradually losing their ways while flashy and offensive values under the foreign cultural interference are taking their place.

The scent of fresh rice, the coolness of green leaves, the weeds by the wells; the smell of fried rice being cooked, the fiery red color of dried chilies,… offer an immeasurable treasure to those who have been seeking for the missing piece in their dreams thus far.

Some girls are picking the vegetables, mowing the lawn, or carrying the water buckets. Several guys are ploughing the fields. The hats and veils are trying to hide the faces of road workers and cleaning women… Those who know how to treasure this scenery should respect their parents, Buddha, God, their homeland,…; one should also take pride in their clever hands and the countrymen who have worked hard to build fields, gardens, villages, pagodas, temples,… and to hand down folk songs, proverbs, rice-pounding melody,…; we had better support and preserve the God’s gifts, our ancestors’ merits,… as well.

Artists and writers may create their works, carve the statues, compose poems, draw paintings,… for the next generations to inherit from and for the foreigners to come visit, thanks to which our poor people would become wealthy and civilized. How easy it is to understand little things like “bánh cốm”, “bánh ít”, “bánh khoái” (various types of local cakes); a plough, a harrow and a brown torn shirt; love between a man and a woman, love children have for their mother; casseroles, bamboo beds, clogs, yo-heave-ho sounds, rice-pounding songs, barking dogs, or crowing roosters! If we embrace, analyze and add emotions to them, making them grow more and more with bamboos, woods, paints or clays, wouldn’t it be able to beautify our one-thousand-year-old Vietnam? I have travelled quite a lot, seeing all types of skyscrapers, vehicles, clothes and costly objects, yet those are no more than fleeting images that would never be part of my dear fatherland.

My country is my skin, my flesh, my hands, my brain, my heart, and anything else that gave birth to me; accordingly I am still me however many decades I’m away from home slightly integrating into the host culture with wine, cheese, and French baguettes. Returning home, I feel so honored to be warmly welcomed like a family member by this land and its people, by any flock of birds and school of fish in my native land. What should be better than being taken to one’s destined place like a duck to water?

In my old garden, houses were burnt several times just as my relatives’ circumstances, my father passed away, my mother died of grief, and my younger siblings left for a faraway land. My hometown was destroyed by those two-faced savages, who brought with them foreign theories to burn the crops, rampage the herds of cattle, and kill innocent locals cold-bloodedly. They never knew how powerful our love for the country was. In our mind was the list of those who destroyed our land and of those who built it up. Scholarly eyes might help but it was not enough. One had to look with their hearts as well for the sake of spatial and local length and breadth. My country is indeed a picture full of colors, emotions, and vitality.

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