“What do you usually do when you feel sad?” asked my friend.
Feeling like a sage, I answered, “Well, I ask myself this question: Are you ready to die tomorrow? If I answered ‘yes’, then I don’t have the right to be sad. If I answered ‘no’ then I should modify the way I live now.”
I don’t know if I answered my friend’s question. I don’t know if I made any sense.
It was 9pm in Vietnam. I was sitting on the 2-step stairs of my hotel watching the motorbikes and traditional Viet vendors pass by the narrow streets of the Old Quarter. I’m a bit melancholic because in a few hours, I will be leaving Hanoi. Quynh (pronounced as Kwen), the wife of the owner generously prepared an ice cold Trung Nguyen coffee for me. Roa, the ever so humble owner, is in front of the computer typing something. Be, their 2 year old son sat next to me with a cute childish tantrum. The question “Are you ready to die tomorrow?” suddenly popped out from nowhere. The question remained unanswered.
After a bit of reflection, I stood up and planned to take a nap while waiting for my taxi that will take me to the airport. But before I bid my temporary goodnight, something awesome happened.
“Roa, Quynh, is it possible for me to hire a motorbike to take me around the city for the very last time?”, I suddenly asked the young couple. I don’t know what came in to me but its a great idea. I’m sure of it. I still have a couple of thousand Vietnamese Dongs anyway.
Roa and Quynh looked at each other with a bit of confusion. They conversed in Viet. Roa opened the drawer and handed a medium sized key to his smiling wife.
“My wife will take you around the city”
“Really? How much for the fee?”, I stupidly asked. How could I be so insensitive?
“Nah. We don’t need money” he said jokingly.
“No. I think its too much. You have been very nice already”
“I will take Be with me” said Quynh.
Roa nodded while I am speechless. I still can’t believe that they will allow me to experience the Vietnamese kindness again, even for my last hours in their country.
The three of us rode the motorbike. Quynh is in front, Be in the middle and I’m at the back. I admire Quynh for her driving skills. She was fantastic!
The Vietnamese air, the lighted narrow streets of the district, the long strips of street foods, the aroma of the famous Pho, the Hoan Kiem lake, the night Market…
The question “Are you ready to die tomorrow?” popped out again. This time, I have an answer.
I haven’t seen much of the world. I just visited a handful of countries. But this simple experience made me say, “Here I am Lord. You can take me anytime you want!”
After the 20-minute trip, we were back at the hotel. Be fell asleep because of the ride. The warm Roa welcomed us back home.
I sighed. I smiled. I said to myself..
THIS IS LIFE