Pre-Script (instead of a post-script): My brother’s name is Nathan, which, reluctantly, can be shortened to Nay? Nay-bor? Neighbor?
“Bán anh em xa mua láng giềng gần.”
Pre-pandemic era, I absorbed as many Vietnamese proverbs possible. You’d go to competition for bilingual kids and get cash prizes if you buzzed a buzzer fastest and explained the figurative versus literal answer.
I’d go to my friend’s mom’s house in the evenings because she had taught me literary Vietnamese a couple years before. Lounging on the corduroy couch, swapping to a plastic stool instead, eating greenly-packaged guava candy, staring at the mean-mugging chihuahua, biding my time until my teacher fed me bún thang, I uselessly diverted my attnetion.
It’s a blessing that the aforementioned phrase stuck with me for years, otherwise this blog post nearly have as much depth, and I wouldn’t have won one of those language contests.
Unrelated coincidence: January 26th, 2020 was the afternoon I secured a hefty trophy in bi-literacy, the date of the first ever recorded Covid-19 case in Orange County, and Kobe’s death (search it up, though it wouldn’t be me in the news). So I’m sure the time frame in which I learned “Bán anh em xa mua láng giềng gần” orbits around unparalled experiences.
“Bán anh em xa mua láng giềng gần” reminds the reader to forge quality relationships with thy neighbor, as your older or younger siblings, who live afar, can’t react the fastest to any one crisis you may endure.
“Bán anh em xa mua láng giềng gần” is one of the few mottos I can attest to following. “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover” or “Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill” are too unrealistic to me because I think their advices come from sayings that prohibit first. It’s only acceptable teenage behavior to rebel!
Well, because I still live at home, my neighbors tend to be my mother, father, and brother, which is a small deviation from the proverb, but holds the same sentiment. Political turbulence, identity turbulence, image turbulence.
Option D. All of the setbacks above: witnessed by my family. My distant relatives in this case equal my friends at school. They never had an opportunity to make me feel as secure throughout this period of isolation. Especially with my brother and cousin, we’re close in age.
The speaker of “Brother” by Kodaline is certain that his brother would sacrifice and save him during a drowning accident and that compassion would echo for decades, never-ending. The gentleness and care exhibited here is perfect.
Predicting the Future:
I value the family unit now, and I’ll continue to do so, yet I’m forced to think of how this 2-year-routine will change. Will I move away after adulthood and college to become close with my neighbor? Or, keep tending to this clan of people as long as they’re here?