The Village Pond
                                      By Tuan V. Le

     Each time I think about the past, I recall images of my native village in the north of Vietnam, where I grew up. It was a peaceful village with a pond in the middle of it. The pond was an important part of the village, for it contributed to the lives of all the villagers who lived by farming and gardening.

     Located right in the middle of the village, the pond was very convenient for all of the village families. Surrounding it was a line of willows, which created a very romantic view. The water in the pond was clear and fresh as if it ran through a filter. All year, even in the dry season, the pond was never empty.

     Every day people came to the pond to get water for cooking, drinking, and watering. They kept water in various containers, such as discarded jars and bottles. They carried them on their shoulders, on their head or in a small cart that they pulled by hand. Animals like buffaloes, sheep, and goats also came to the pond to quench their thirst. At that time, in a poor country like Vietnam, only big cities had water systems, so the pond was necessary for the survival of everyone in the village.

     The pond was also a place for the villagers to gather and wash their clothes, blankets, etc. Early in the morning, neighbors would gather in small groups and make their way to the pond to do their washing. When they finished, they hurried back home to start their workday.

     The pond was also a favorite recreational spot. In the morning, old people came to fish. At noon, especially on hot days, children went swimming to escape the heat. They plunged into the water, shouting joyfully and making a noisy scene. In the evening, when the bright moon appeared in the sky, lovers would go there to watch the moonlight dancing and reflecting on the surface of the pond.

     Recently, after being away for more than 50 years, I went back to my native village, hoping that I would find the lovely images of days long gone. But what I saw was only a quiet, strange place. The village had disappeared and the pond was covered with green grass. The whole place had been turned into a golf course. I felt so sad about this change. The pond didn't serve poor people anymore. It had become a playground for rich people. It didn't seem logical or fitting for a poor country like Vietnam to have a luxurious golf course. If I could work a miracle, I would change the golf course back to the old pond where villagers gathered with neighbors and friends and felt at home with their village community.