My beloved Nhan*!
I have written to you several times but I don’t know whether the letters have reached you. I did not receive any reply at all. I long to hear from you and our family very much. Please remember to reply to me.
Each month you came to visit yet I could not see you. I love you and hope you understand me, my youngest son.
Please send my greetings to Grandma, the Uncles and Aunts, the Priests, and to all of our acquaintances.
I am hoping you will send me a few family photos: your pictures, your brother Trung’s pictures, and pictures of Sister Q. Anh’s family and children. Call Aunt Hanh, Uncle Dung, as well as the whole family, and tell them to write to share the news, please.
And how about yourself, my youngest Son! Are the monthly visits [to prison] affecting your work and study? I have said in previous letters, and let me repeat: You don’t need to come every month like this, it doesn’t solve anything. I have been eating again, and you can just think I am away from home for a while. Several years are nothing, right, my son? In the old days your grandfather also went away all the time, to the point that when he returned, I could not recognize him anymore, because he only came by the house once every few years.
You all have grown up and become independent, so I don’t worry much. I just sometimes miss you, the children, and everybody. Tell your sister, Aunts and Uncles, to not worry; it’s all my destiny. All the supplies, just mail them to me. Only make the trip here if I call, if I have things to tell you or need you to bring something. It is such a long trip, and you can’t even see me when you get here, so no need to come for nothing. I am already halfway through my term. It will come before you know it, the day when they will no longer care to keep me here.
There is nothing to worry about my health; only the stomach and intestines act out sometimes. I will adjust my diet, and I still apply for medicines to take.
So I am on a snack diet, having multiple meals and eating when it feels right. Please tell Aunt Phuong and your sister, when they mail packages for me each month, to not send much food at a time. Each portion should be less than half a kilo, dried and thoroughly cooked, so that I can keep and eat for 1 or 2 months. I don’t eat much rice because it is difficult to digest, so I eat snacks, buy legumes to supplement the diet, and drink milk every day.
Please tell your sister to send me the followings:
- Hair ties and hairbands, my short hair is unequal and gets in my face + 1 comb + plastic mirror.
- Underarm roll-on + feminine hygiene drugs. Hair and body wash.
- Brown rice – Brown rice cakes – Dry food – Cereals – Rice crusts – My Tho rice papers …
- Tell sister Q.A to buy the flavored roasted peanuts from Hanoi – they taste better and can be preserved for a long time. Don’t buy junk food in the supermarkets because their packages have been on the shelves for a long time and have an inedible oily taste. Only buy and send supplies that are enough for the month from Hanoi, please. Last time, you brought so many things but some had to be discarded, what a waste.
Each month send me half a kilo of sesame as usual, that is enough.
If you plan to come here directly to visit, please don’t leave until you receive my call sharing the news and telling you what I will need!
Are you in touch often with your brother Trung? Tell him to write and send photos to me. I would like him to try to focus on his studies to establish himself and take care of his future. And you, please consider and make a decision for your own direction, youngest son! I can only be truly reassured and serene when you are established and completely independent. You will eventually have to take care of your own family, and pay back to me, too. Please don’t worry about visiting me. If you can pursue your education, please focus on it. I have said before, it is not necessary to visit me here and it does not resolve anything! Your study and career are more important. It must be so decided. Please remember and understand my wish, my son.
Well, that is all I had to write, hopefully you will understand. I always want you to be healthy, safe, and grow up, my youngest son! Please extend my greetings and nostalgia to everyone we know.
Remember to write me so that I know what is going on with you, our family, and the children. Send me some photos so that I can see everyone. Tell your sister, when she send packages, to also send me newspapers and Tiep Thi Gia Dinh magazines.
I hug you and miss you so much, my baby Nhan.
PS: Please tell your sister to include a towel next time she sends a package, or you can send my own towel from Vung Tau. The old towel has torn.
(*): Nhan is Bui Thi Minh Hang’s youngest son’s name.
The 88 Project translated from the original letter in Vietnamese: https://anhbasam.wordpress.com/2015/09/15/5099-thu-cua-ba-bui-thi-minh-hang-tu-trong-tu-gui-cho-con-trai/