A Day in Cu Tru Village

The weaving machines of Cu Tru Village in Nam Dinh Province start before the sun rises. The looms rock gently with the coming morning, bringing on daylight and the chirping of birds. Cu Tru Village has been a weaving village for a long as the people can remember and many of the homes have looms in the main section of the houses.

Breakfast is being prepared – hot bowels of pho with noodles and fresh vegetables gathered from the fields. Tea is served, and sometimes, coffee.

It is time for washing up and the dishes are cleaned. People shower and wash the sleep from their faces. In the yards, in basins, women wash their long hair and brush it out over their shoulders. The men are off to work, many of them in nearby construction.

On the streets beside the river, children, in neat uniforms, peddle their bicycles to school. The river is the spine of the Village, the side streets, and the ribs. Most commercial activity centers around the river.

Already women are setting up stalls to sell goods: fresh meat, interesting vegetables, and brightly colored fruit. They engage in local gossip and often laugh. They are sometimes shy when a stranger passes but quick to smile when recognized.

The sun starts to burn through the morning mist as locals cross the many bridges. Several men carry fishing poles. Another fisherman, nets piled high at his feet, paddles a small boat down the river.

The day is off to a good start. Shops open their doors and already several men lounge around the barbershop waiting their turn for a haircut. They also have many stories to tell. The barber, clipping away quietly, smiles. His wife brings a pot of tea for the customers.

A wedding is taking place at the edge of town. Many of the villagers attend. Weddings are a community event. Food is brought from local homes and a party is underway. Both old and young converse and everyone seems happy as they wish the young couple good fortune and good health.

Outside of the village, across the rice paddies, a funeral is taking place. The funeral is dramatic with music and monks and loved-ones all gathered together. Funerals are solemn occasions and great respect is shown the departed. A wedding, a death, the cycle of life continues.

A small group of poets meet near the river to discuss literature, politics, and to share their recent poems. They talk about the world, in general, and specifically about the emotions of people. They understand that people throughout the world want the same things: a home, clothes, a job, and a happy and healthy family. They explore these things in their poems.

That afternoon the children are free from school and they peddle quickly home to change their clothes. Many of the boys grab fishing poles and hurry to the river. The girls ride their bikes and play near the streets. A small group meets at the pagoda to climb trees and gather star fruit. They kick around a ball and some of the girls play with a baby. The baby is sitting in a basket on the bike.

The good smells of dinner float through the village: chicken with rice, noodles, soup, vegetables, especially marigold steaming hot beside sweet-and-sour barbecued beef. More tea is served and, more recently, Coca-Cola and Fanta.

Soccer plays on the televisions as the people snack on cakes and discuss the day’s events. Several generations live together; a tradition that is dying out in the cities as the modern world slowly breaks up families. That night everyone rests comfortably as the stars put them to sleep and prepares them for another day.


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