The Bike Ride
Vietnam was being rebuilt. No longer would there be fields of weed and wildflowers, or random graves, or needles thrown out by drug addicts. My side of Vietnam was being refilled with separate villas surrounded by their own gardens, a neighborhood so beautiful it almost concealed the little row houses across the road that belonged to us, the people who had been there for generations.
These massive villas were built by the government, for massive people: generals of war, politicians, and head of state-owned businesses. With brick walls covered in ivy, they looked more to us like little castles. By and by, a few people came to fill these villas, but most got demolished and rebuilt by new owners. And so the perfect little castles were replaced by flashy palaces, clad in gold and white, screaming out the richness they would contain inside.…show more content… For the first time, we saw asphalt roads so dark and smooth children could bike fast without tripping on pebbles, and sidewalks, a luxury not many Vietnamese towns could afford. Therefore, while the new neighborhood remained void of people, we took advantage of its smoothness of modernity. Everyday, I would join the neighborhood children and cross the road to the nicer side to ride our bikes. The front yard of the rich became the gym for the poor.
I often went with Huyen, who lived in a thin alley opposite from mine. Huyen was half a year younger, pale and fragile compared to tan and athletic me, but she was of the more daring kind, riding the adult bike that I did not dare to climb on. We became friends in kindergarten, but parted later when I left the