The relationship between…

… people from a village…

Observing human interactions or even just the behaviour of one single human being is something I like to do while travelling around. I’ve always find human relationships interesting, though also quite tiring at times. The behaviour of people from the rural areas, particularly the one in Vietnam, are often stamped as “they do it like that in the villages” – “country bumpkin” – “they speak like that there”.

For big city people, though a tad prejudiced, but those rural people often speak a vulgar language, they spit everywhere, they are nosy, they like to gossip, they are judgemental… they have different standards.

This might be true to a certain extend, and I have to admit that I do not often share the same humour and choice of words people from my grandmother’s village speak. I believe they do not mean any harm nor rudeness.. it is just “how they speak here”.

However, while we are busy judging their language, we forget the most important aspect, which surpass any intellectual degree and lifestyle and what not.. we forget something so important, because we are busy feeding our narcissism… we forget the basic bound between one human being to another human being! It is extremely heartwarming here in the countryside. I could feel this warmth these 3 days during the funeral ceremony of my grandmother.

We had more than 850 groups of visitors coming to burn incenses and gave their condolences, bringing flowers, sharing stories. More than 1000 people came and with just our family members, we would not be able to serve them all ! My father and his brothers took turns to stay next to the altar to greet the visitors and thank them; sometimes switching position to rest, to eat a bit or mainly to talk to acquaintances that came from a far.

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p style=”text-align:justify;”>The guest usually have a sip of tea after saying their farewell to the dead. Which means, we needed people to constantly brew tea, to fill the bottles, to serve tea, to clean the cups, to clean the tables.
We also needed help in the kitchen to prepare meals so serve to guests and family members. Anyone who has Vietnamese friends will know how we eat at home. We do not serve a plate with bits of food. We cook a lot! On the table have to be: rice, cooked meat, fried or baked meat, fried and/or cooked vegetables a soup/broth, vietnamese sausages, alcoholics, tea etc.. The dishes shall be re-filled and the tables prepared for the next group of people coming to eat. This literally means we needed another group of helpers.
Furthermore, fruits had to be prepared, drinks bought and prepared, incenses had to be prepared and so so much more!

What touched my heart was the neighbours’ willingness to help even from people we were not at all closed with. We did not have to ask them for help. Once they received the news of a funeral, they came by, shedding tears of condolences, they whisper the Buddhist chant, they offer a hand or two without much talking. It was for them an apparent act.

A human helping another human : OF COURSE!

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p style=”text-align:justify;”>Young healthy men rushed in to help carrying the coffin to the funeral carriage and walked the long way pushing the carriage to the cemetery.
Young healthy women carrying cigarettes and tea and served the guest who walked my grandmother to the cemetery.
Others carry the memorial flags leading the way whilst some stayed back to clean up.
A lot of neighbours took their time to walk with us the long and uneven path to the family’s graveyard and bid their farewell afterwards, without asking for anything.

This readiness is so rare in the city. It is probably true that one lose a bit of anonymity in a village, but then again in need of help one will have lots of hands reaching out…

Honestly, it smooths the heart to know you are never alone. That even if you have no relatives left.. you still have your neighbours, who takes care of you as if they are your family. Now I understand, why my grandmother demanded to go back to her village when she felt weaker.

That… is a human interaction, that we need to preserve and cherish disregarding social status, intellectual degree and especially living background – “village” or “big city”.

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