This morning, we had a special assembly to welcome our visiting author for Book Week, virtually, to our school. Minh Le is a Vietnamese- American children’s author and what made his visit doubly special is that our school is the first school he has ever visited in Vietnam! Many of his celebrated picture books like ‘Drawn Together’ and the graphic novel ‘Green Lantern Legacy’ are books based on the relationships he had with his grandparents. I had the incredible honour of listening to him while he spoke to our lower school this morning and was very moved as he talked about what motivated him to write about his grand mother and grand father.
It got me thinking.
I was so lucky to have had the opportunity to grow up with my own grandmother in close quarters. Amie Thai, or just Thai, to us, as she was lovingly known, was a force of nature and a character in her own right. I remember her vivid recollections of growing up in Coorg, in the south of India. I remember her stories of the adventures she had as a single, young woman in the 40’s in New Delhi. I remember the simplicity with which she told of how she stood up for what she believed in, married the man she loved – her needle in a haystack- and followed the faith that she believed in and the one that gave her solace. She moved mountains why she defied the gravitational pull of culture and tradition and did what felt right to her. She lost the man she loved in a tragic and cruel accident and ended up as a young widow, raising 4 young children.
To me she was just, Thai. I loved her vitality and sense of humour. I loved the time she had for me. I loved her stories and her unshakeable faith. She was kind and silly and could be just as firm and fastidious, when necessary. She introduced me to yoga and beer shampoo. She taught me how to arrange flowers in a vase. She wrote to the Queen of England one time and travelled the world- seeing more than most people could imagine. She loved deeply and strongly and always had pictures of her very grown up children, as babies, in her wallet.
She was mine and I am of her.
I want her to know I miss her everyday. I regret, everyday, not having been there for her. I have had her by my side all my life and especially in my most trying moments.
On this the last day of posting for the #SOLC in March 2021, this is in dedication to my Thai. My deep gratitude for inspiration to be able to write about her today, for Minh Le’s beautiful stories and for Two Writing Teachers for giving me the space to share.
What are we but a product of all that we are and all that came before us.
Rest in peace, Thai.