The Roots Deep Within

The “Campaigner”

E N F P. These four simple letters controlled me; from the way I acted in front of others, to the way I made my decisions, the four beautiful letters dictated how I lived. It first started when I was around eleven. Bored and young, I took the 16personalities test and was amazed at my results – even if it did not reflect my true self. Although I have grown up and had experienced more of life, I still stuck to ENFP, the campaigner. 

E. Extrovert. I was shy, but in the stories I have read, people always admired the adventurous, outgoing girl who went along well with others. 

N. iNtuition. I was impatient. And in a way, so were the protagonists – rash, decision making main characters who left every reader’s jaw hanging.

F. Feeling. How I make decisions. Because I am an indecisive person, I had yet to figure out whether I was a thinker or a feeler. Who knows. Maybe a feeler. She was a feeler…

P. Perceiving. How I approached life. I was flexible. How was the protagonist supposed to go on adventures in such a structured and organized manner?

The campaigner. Enthusiastic, charismatic, creative, charming, energetic, and independent. The main character she was. I could not bear to be ignored any longer. 

I did not know what my true set of four letters were. Although, it mattered not, for I would just mold myself into the “perfect person” I saw fit no matter what. With 16personalities, came one of the many mistakes that were born on the Internet: the personality database website. With a simple search, I would find characters in the media with supposedly the same personality as “me,” ENFP. My eyes would constantly shift: up and down, up and down, up and down… Found it. Shaping myself to characters everyone loved, I would no longer be ignored. Loved, I was.

Courtesy of Advanced Google Image Search, 16Personalities

Her Star Daughter

If my sisters jumped off a bridge, then I would too. This was my mindset during my childhood as I copied every single thing that they did – one of them being volleyball. I was in the fourth grade at that time, and I was terrible. Benched for every game, and not knowing anything about that sport besides “setting the ball,” I regretfully joined my school’s volleyball team. My jersey number was fifteen. It has always been an attractive number. That pretty two digit number was the only highlight of my volleyball career. Spiked in the head by a thirteen-year-old giant, I tremble at the thought of the traumatic sport. 

The perpetrator will forget its transgression towards the innocent, while the victim will always remember. On one particularly cloudy day, I needed a ride to the school we were competing against in a volleyball match. Hesitantly, an older teammate and her mother took me along. I was seated in the backseat, behind her star daughter. On the way there, the mother scrutinized and criticized me in Vietnamese due to my short, nine-year-old limbs being of no use during the games. What’s the use of having your brat join a volleyball team if all she can do is sit and get hit? Slumping down on my seat and lowering myself at every word, I was able to sense where I stood – behind and below.

Courtesy of Pixabay

The Time the Parasite Attempted to Deflower Her

Squeak! Squeak! Bam! As the volleyball glistened in the air and soared over the net, I found myself to be in the gymnasium again. In my dreadful green jersey with the number fifteen on the back, I sat on the shiny, wooden benches, observing the game. Looking to the side of the court, I spot my coach. The young college student had a gleaming expression whenever he greeted his young elementary and middle school girls. He seemed passionate. He also seemed like the type to visit a garden and pluck away at all the pretty little flowers until they slowly withered away. There was one pretty flower he sought for, and it was my sister. However, this flower was just a bud when it first encountered the invasive parasite. Just a highschool freshman, the clever parasite preyed on her. Unaware of this, I stuck close to him, respecting his talent and status as a teacher. 

“What time does your sister get off school? Would you like to watch a movie with me if you brought her along?” he said as he crouched to match my level. I hesitated.

“Yes, but just us three?” He smiled and nodded slowly. The pathetic bug was no longer the towering coach that I once knew.

Courtesy of Pixabay

The Hands of the Clock Fight Back

Tick! Tick! Tick! The clock was my enemy. I always felt like I was fighting against time; constantly staying up till the late hours to spare a few more minutes, just in case. It was one quiet morning – the only thing one could hear was the piercing sound of each key of the laptop being slammed by my worn-out fingers. I looked over at the top right of my computer screen, which displayed: 2:35 AM. With each hand of the clock descending down the minutes, my spirit slowly dimmed. It was now 3:33 AM. I had lost against time once again. I groaned when I thought of sleeping for only three hours yet again, and having no time to nap off my lost hours. 

Another morning this time. But instead, tinnitus filled my ears. The sickly yellow lights covered and stained the walls and floor of my room as I laid on my bed. Vision grainy. Head heavy. Essentially doing nothing, I beat myself up for staying up so late yet being so unproductive. I was in a turmoil as I lived a cycle of staying up to be productive, then doing nothing during the late hours of the night, thus following the feeling of frustration, and still not sleeping just for the small chance of doing something important. Time was something I felt I had abundant amounts of, and yet it also felt so limited. Time was slowly killing me – like a soft, warm pillow suffocating you as you defensively slept. I only have so much time left. They only have so much time left.

I resented my parents for having me so late in their lifetime. I spent time alone at the house as they worked for their wages and my older sisters left the house. Mom and dad would leave to work for more than twelve hours to give me the time to study. Yet, it always felt like what I was doing did not do the time given to me justice. I wanted to curse at all the clocks in the world. Stupid time. Stupid clocks. I hated it all. And when my parents would step into their home late at night, I would quickly rush to the living room – letting my presence be known. It mattered not that my peers would tease me for sleeping at odd hours. I simply did not want to spend my time alone. Too tired to eat dinner late at night with me, my parents would just sit – their presence was enough.

Time consumed me. And I couldn’t escape. 

Courtesy of Pixabay

Im Sorry Con

With each swing of the knife, my mom is reminded of her childhood. As the oldest daughter, she often felt the wrath of her father – and the stares of her quiet mother. 

Chop! Chop! 

Images of her mother standing behind her father as his hand came in for another round flooded her brain. The sound of my mother’s muffled screams escaped as he hit her to stop her from crying. 

She prepares a plate. 

That time? It was because she ate dessert without offering it to the family. No, to him. Just yesterday, it was because she wanted to sing. 

My mom skins off the muted, yellow exterior to reveal a juicy, crunchy interior. 

He was relentless. She did not know who to blame more: her, her coward of a mother, or her father, the one who reserved his fists for only her. She tried her best to be good, she really did. 

My mom individually places each slice onto the plate as she sighs. The aroma of the sweet fruit tickles her nostrils. 

She felt like throwing up, angry at her situation. But how could she have escaped? After her test of endurance, she attempted to stand up straight and tried to calmly walk to her room. Contrary to her attempts, her body gave out right in front of the door to the shared bedroom with her little siblings. She quickly swiveled her head to check behind her. Whew. 

She opens my door. After handing me the plate of sweet pears, she quietly walks out. She didn’t have to say it, but I knew. I’m sorry con. 

Courtesy of Advanced Google Image Search

The American Dream

My garage housed a wooden mini cupboard with three photo albums per shelf. I often skimmed through the pages to try to look for my baby pictures, but to no avail, I was not there. Instead, I discovered images of my parents’ youth. Looking through each image and keepsake was like skipping through the memories of my parents. I often heard about their struggles of living and immigrating to achieve the “American Dream.” They were burdensome and heart wrenching; stories of death, assault, pirates, sacrifice, and poverty that haunt their dream. But the books were different. These photos of the two bright, young strangers weren’t the same Mom and Dad that I knew of. 

Courtesy of the Photo Album Housed in the Mini Cupboard, in the Garage

On Typical Sunday Mornings

On typical Sunday mornings, when the model family would enjoy a beautiful day out, my family would have their mouths wide open, and show immense trajectory skills with each hurl of the object in their peripheral vision, and each throw of hurtful words perfectly targeting one another. A beautiful sight it was, for the model family would go to Sunday Mass together, and soon after, enjoy a hearty meal at their favorite restaurant. On a typical Sunday morning, I would be slurping the fat, white noodles of a warm soup, the tears streaming down my face even warmer. The sounds of birds chirping lightened the model family’s mood as they felt the cool breeze tickle their skin. The deafening sound of pure silence after the bang traveled through everyone’s ears as the cold atmosphere left us with tiny bumps covering every part of the body. On a typical Sunday morning, the model family would discuss their daily affairs as the parents listened intently with deep care. The oldest would discuss where to move out to as the little ones were left behind.

Courtesy of Advanced Google Image Search

One thought on “The Roots Deep Within

  1. This is a heart-wrenching, but very well-written piece. You did not stray from difficult topics, yet faced them head on. This is a great display of bravery and coming head-on to trauma. I won’t say much more in order to not detract from this work.


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