Sunday, April 12, 2009

"Quyen"

This morning I took my son to the art club as usual. On the way, I bought him a box of crayons in a bookstore in Dinh Le Street. When I paid at the check-out desk, we found a novel titled Quyen. I was very excited. That was my name. I decided to take it even I did not read the plot to find if it was to my interest or not. 47000 dongs, I could afford it. Paying and smiling.
I spent my nap reading the novel. The main character is Quyen, a woman of the same generation as me. The author explained the meaning of Quyen in Vietnamese the same as me: a kind of flower and kind of bird. In addition, I find some similarities between the main character and me. I think I find myself in her. I will mention the simple similarities and some sentences expressing her/my feelings. What a coincidence! Maybe the author wanted to tell the public about the destiny/fate of Vietnamese women called Quyen.
Quyen in ‘Quyen’ is a woman from Hanoi. She graduated from Hanoi University. Her major was Literature. The story started when she was 24 years old and finished when she was 33 years old in 2005. In her life, some men appear and they have certain influence on her life: Dung – her ex-husband, Hung – her daughter’s father, Kurma – her present husband, a Sri Lankan man, a kind man, who loves her and cares for her and her daughter very very much. Her daughter is 8 years old or so when the story ended. Me? I am a woman from Hanoi. I graduated from Hanoi University. My major was English. I was 34 years old. In my life, I have met 2 men called Dung (they liked me), a man called Hung (he gave me a bunch of flowers and a toy cat on Women’s Day when I was in 12 Grade, I think he liked me too). I also have a kind friend from another country and we have a good relationship, I think so). And I have a son at the age of 10.
The story is as follows.
Quyen and her husband Dung (in Russia as labour exporting workers), cross the border into Germany illegally. Dung comes first. Quyen is caught behind. Then she is raped by a guy called Hung who leads Vietnamese workers to cross the boders. She is kept in a small house in the forest. She lives there with Hung for 8 months. She does not love him but he forces her to make love with him many times. He does that with a basic instinct of an animal. Then she is pregnant. His attitude changes. He cares for her and feels really happy to know that he has a child. When she is 8 months pregnant, he decides to take her to the refugee camp in West Germany in hope that she can have a better care and she can meet her husband, Dung, who she still loves very much. When crossing the border, to distract the police, Hung asks Quyen to go into anothet car driven by his follower, then he drives fast and has an accident. However, he survives the accident. When Quyen finds Dung, he does not accept her because he thinks that she betrays him. Quyen becomes lonely and feels hopeless and isolated in a strange country. She does not want to live and decide to commit suitcide by cutting her wrist. But her life is saved by a Sri Lankan man called Kumar. This man is really really kind to her. It is him who tells and takes her to the room where her husband is living. It is him who hears Hung shouting at her. Then Quyen and Kumar fall in love with each other and live happily. They have got a small restaurant. But Quyen is not Kumar’s offical wife because his family in Sri Lanka has got a vow, that is men in the Sinnatuerrais mustn’t get married to foreigners. One day, Quyen receives a letter from Hung. He says that he is going to die soon (because he has brain tumour) and expresses his desire to be forgiven and to meet his daughter once before he dies. Quyen takes her daughter to Hung’s house in Hungary. Hung dies and his trash is brought back to Vietnam by Quyen and his friends. During that time, Kumar’s mother visits him, a difficult time for him: he has to choose one mum or Quyen. He tells Quyen (before she decides to go to meet Hung) to stay somewhere waiting for him to persuade mum to accept Quyen. Quyen thinks it is not reasonable. They are living in Germany not Sri Lanka. But just before Kumar comes home with mum does she decide to go to visit Hung. So she can solve the problem: meeting Hung for the last time and avoiding a difficult problem for Kumar. Meanwhile, Kurma tries his best to persuade his mum to accept Quyen as his offical wife. Finally, he succeeds. He rushes to look for his wife and he finds her again. He tells her that his mum overcomes the vow.
And here are some sentences I like very much.
On page 227, where the author describes Quyen’s feelings when she lives in Kumar’s house but they sleep in 2 different rooms. Kumar is different from other men she meets before: no sex harassment. For Quyen, sex is not only orgasm, not only for having children. She thinks human beings are different from animal because of that. Two people having sex together without love is just like basic instinct, not different from bulls, buffalos, dogs, horses. People just make love when they have love. For her, sex in love is a beautiful and decent act. The orgasm of lovers will be multiped, making them endlessly happy and binding their bodies and souls............. She gradually likes him and realises that she can not continue living like this: stay in the same house with Kumar and no sex. She wonders if he loves her or not. Then one day, Kumar holds Quyen’s hands. She lets her hands in his hands. She finds out that she has loved him, already. ................. One day when they travel on subway, she gets out but her bag is stuck in the door but the train continues to run. Kumar cuts the bag strap with his all power (maybe his love for her) and they fall doen on the platform. After the dangerous time, they hold each other tight... What is love? Something you can measure and define how big it is? He saves her life despite the fact that he can die – is that great love he gives to her? If other people, like her ex-husband, sacrifice life to save her? .................. But he does not tels her that he loves her. And as an Asian woman, she does not dare to express her feelings first. And finally she tries her best to ask Kumar if he loves her or not. He explains that he really loves her and her daughter. They come into his life so naturally and he gets used to having them in his everyday life. But he has to wait for his mum to come to lift the vow, so that Quyen can become his offical wife..... And they love each other at a moon night. ....... She looks back her past life and thinks about men who have come into her life and say that they love her. Dung loves her a seflfish love. Hung loves her a instinct love. Phi loves her in order to have a family, no soul – match. Now she is different from Quyen of the past, not belong to the type of women who just need a husband.... She needs a man who has got her standards, who comes to her because he loves her with a basic instinct love and has a soul matching her soul. To have a strong love and life, they need the combination of 2 souls. A woman who has a complicated life and soul needs a man with a soul which is knowledgable, experienced and a man who can understand and share with her the problems in life, respect and sympathize with her. A basic instinct love is not enough to support her sensitive soul. .... She realizes that Kumar is the man of her life....
After reading the novel, I found myself crying. Maybe it has some details like my life and it has a good ending, Quyen finds her real half.