Saturday, 3 January 2009

The Milky River

In the very old days, there was a clear fairy well which never dried up in a deep forest. Fairies were often there to take water to heaven or bathed and played together.In the same days, there was a man who worked hard and lived alone. One day he went to the forest to cut down wood and he got lost when he went into the deep forest.
He went by the fairy well when he tried to find the exit. There were three beautiful fairies playing and bathing in that well. He stood quietly to see them so passionately that he forgot to go home. Suddenly he saw three pairs of white wings lying on the grass; a bright idea went through his mind. He sneaked to take a pair of wing then hiding behind a tree. After bathing, three fairies were fording up to the bank. Two fairies that had swings were flying in the sky, only one was looking for her wings everywhere. Seeing that, the young man went out from the hide. She implored him:"Please give back my wings, strange man. I have to go home."
"No, I couldn't." He smiled and answered.

"This pair of wings belonged to me and you couldn't take them back. Be my wife and I would give you a happy life." He insisted not to give back those wings to her although she cried a lot. The afternoon sun was already slanting so he pretended to go home. She had to trail along behind him. When coming home, he hid secretly her wings right away, and then he prepared for dinner, clothes, blanket and mat for that poor fairy. Since then, she was his wife. After married they had a cute son soon. When their son was 3 years old, he had to go away for along time. He recommended his wife before leaving:
"Remember to eat these stacks of paddy. Don't eat that buddy stack or else wasps would bite both of mother and child."

But she didn't follow what he said. After eating a paddy stack, she took forbidden stack to eat. There was not any wasp in the stack so she doubted that he hid her wings over there. Of course she found them after searching for a while. She was eager to fly in the sky right away but she felt not to be familiar with her wings like before. She had to practice herself in flying everyday. She could fly back to heaven after a few days but she still lingered at home to take care of her son. One day, she decided to leave because her husband was going to come back. She made many cakes for her child and said to him:
"When you feel hungry, go to the room to take cakes, don't call me because I had to go away."
Then she pinned her comb on his shirt and recommended:
"Keep this comb for your father."

Then she was flapping her wings to fly in the sky. Her husband came back and didn't see her, and then he understood what happened when seeing her comb on his son's shirt. Since then, they were lonely, he was sombre and the child cried all days because of missing his mother. One day, he took the child to find the fairy well. He still remembered the way to that well but it was covered with luxuriant vegetation. He was looking for the way days by days and at last he found that well. He took the child to hide behind the well with hope they would meet his wife. They waited for her till the next day's afternoon, an old fairy flew down from the sky with a bucket in her hand. He took her bucket and implored:
"Please love and help me to do a thing.""What is it?" The old fairy asked.
"I am husband of a fairy who bathed here 3 years ago.

She was back to heaven without saying to us. Please help me to leave her a message so that she will meet us for a while. Here's her comb. You give it to her and she will understand this story right away.""I know her. Her name is Chuc Nu. Everyday she weaves thread into cloth and she misses you and this child so much. I promised to tell her about this."
The young man and his child were taken to her place the next day. They were so happy to meet again. But they had to be apart after 2 days living together. God didn't allow anyone from the earth to be in heaven. She wiped her tears and gave them a drum, a rice spathe and said:
"When your feet were on the ground, please hit the drum three times so that I can cut the rope."
He and the child went down. On the half way, his little son was hungry so his father put the rice spathe on the drum for the child eating. The child took rice into his mouth and he made rice scatter on the drum. A flock of crows swooped down on the drum and picked rice very quickly.

In the heaven, Chuc Nu thought they were on the ground so she cut the rope. The man and his son fell down to the sea. Crows knew their fault so they flew to the heaven and cried out a lot. God knew their situation so he ordered to take that man and his son to the heaven and assigned that man to breed a herd of buffaloes.

People called him Nguu Lang or Buffaloman later. This couple lived in the opposite banks. They could only meet together once a year, on July 7th (the seventh lunar month). The flock of crows had to put stones on their heads to form a bridge across the milky river so that the lovers could meet together. Since then, it often drizzles on July 7th (the seventh lunar month); people called it "Mua Ngau" or "Lasting rain."
There are tears of the lovers who meet in a day then they have to be apart till the next year. As for crows, they often are bald on that day because of putting stones on their heads.
Translated by Mai Anh Tuyet

Truong Ba's Soul, Butcher's skin

A long time ago, there was a Truong Ba, a young man who played Chinese Chess very well. His clever chess moves couldn't be snared up by anyone. He won all chess prizes available in spring festivals. The rumour about him spread everywhere, even in China. In the same days there was Ky Nhu, who also played Chinese chess very well in China. He went to Vietnam to find Truong Ba, and to challenge him in playing chess. They were playing a few moves when it became apparent that both were very good and that neither could recognise who would be the winner. But Ky Nhu was driven to a stalemate at the third move. Truong Ba was proud of his achievement and when he saw that his rival was at a loss, he said: -This chess move couldn't be cleared up even if the Chess fairy, De Thich, were to fly down to play. De Thich, the fairy, was in Heaven and heard that sneer of pride, and so he decided to challenge Truong Ba's pride. When they were playing, an old man appeared and took a moment time to show Ky Nhu some chess moves. After the old man imparted some ancient wisdom unto Ky Nhu, he changed the game from what appeared to be to his defeat into a victory. Truong Ba scowled the old man, who taught Ky Nhu to holdfast onto his Queen & turned the stalemate upon Truong Ba. But, then the old mans face transformed into the fairy's face of De Thich. When seeing this, Truong Ba was smitten with shame and knelt down to the old man and confessed: - You must be De Thich, the fairy? I am an earthman and cannot have guessed who you are. Please forgive me. De Thich laughed and said: - I heard that you were proud of playing chess well so I had to come here to see if it's true. Truong Ba kept De Thich to entertain him fully and carefully. De Thich was also fond of Truong Ba. Knowing that Truong Ba wanted to learn his chess moves, De Thich told him: - I see you have heartfelt feeling. I give you this joss stick. I will come down whenever you light it. De Thich flew away on a cloud to the heaven after that. From that time, Truong Ba sometimes prepared feasts and invited De Thich to come there for fun. They deeply understood each other. Then, Truong Ba suddenly died one day. One day, after Truong Ba had been buried, his wife cleaned the house. Seeing a joss stick at the roof, she took it down casually, burnt and put it on the altar of Truong Ba. In heaven, De Thich got this news through an aroma of the joss stick, so he went down right away. He was surprised to see Truong Ba wasn't there. He asked: - Where is Truong Ba? Truong Ba's wife wept and said: - My husband died about one month ago - Gracious me! Why didn't you call me at that time? - It's late so I can't help you anymore. After thinking for a while, De Thich asked more: - Is there anyone just died in your alley? Truong Ba’s wife said: - There’s a butcher who just died last night. De Thich asked her to take him to the butcher’s house and said: - I will find the best way to make your husband return to life. Then he flied back to the heaven. As for butcher’s family, people were around his coffin to moan and cry a lot. Suddenly they saw the body sat up. He threw out all of shrouds then no say with everybody; he went straight to Truong Ba‘s house. Truong Ba’s wife saw the butcher, knowing that De Thich made Truong Ba came to life again, she was happy to welcome him to the house. But the butcher’s family also came there to pull back him to them. But Truong Ba’s wife pulled back to her and the butcher also didn’t want to come back. Both of sides argued and it became a big argument at last. Their neighbours didn’t know how to justice so they had to report this to the mandarin. The mandarin asked their neighbours to law court to interrogate. All of them said that the reliving man was the butcher. But Truong Ba’s wife insisted that it was Truong Ba, her husband. The mandarin asked: - What did he often do every day? She said: - My husband was only good at playing chess. The mandarin asked the butcher’s wife: - What did he often do every day? She said: - My husband was only good at operating pigs. After hearing what they said, the mandarin ordered to bring a pig into law court so that the butcher could operate it. But he didn’t know how to do. The mandarin ordered to invite some famous chess players to play with the butcher. He couldn’t imagine that the butcher had well chess moves, nobody could defeat him. He ordered him to go back to Truong Ba’s house. Therefore, we have a saying: “Truong Ba’s soul, butcher’s skin”.

Translated by Mai Anh Tuyet

Luu Binh - Duong Le's friendship

From the childhood, Luu Binh and Duong Le were friends. This was a good friendship. Duong Le's family was poor. Duong Le lived with Luu Binh and they could study together. Duong Le was studious, had succeeded and passed his examination and named a mandarin.Luu Binh was confident in his fortune, played and failed in his examination. Later, Luu Binh's family was ruined because there was trouble in the country. He wanted to study again but he had no more money. He went and saw Duong Le in order to ask his assistance. Since Duong Le named a mandarin, he always thought much of his old friend. He was very happy when his friend came to see him. He thought that his friend has played, now he was unhappy. “If I help him, he will be lazy again, and do not know how he can earn money for a living”. Then he pretended to be angry and cried: "A mandarin has no friendship with a poor man". He ordered his soldiers to chase out Luu Binh. Luu Binh returned home very sadly. Duong Le said to Chau Long to help his friend and look after him. Obeying her husband’s orders, disguised herself as a trade woman, went to meet Luu Binh, took Luu Binh to her house to study. During 3 years, he tried to learn and succeeded in his examination. Luu Binh decided to go to Duong Le's house in order to reprimand him, At that time, Duong Le’s house in ordered Chau Long to present herself before Luu Binh. Now, Luu Binh recognised his friend's sacrifice. From that time, Luu Binh and Duong Le became more friendly.

Translated by Mai Anh Tuyet

The Bamboo with 100 Joints

Once upon a time, there was a very poor peasant, who was employed as a servant for a rich man. The rich man was very stingy. He had many tricks to squeeze more work out of his servants without paying any more money. He had a single daughter. Knowing that the poor peasant was single although he was no longer young, the rich man pretended saying: - Try and work hard, my son. I will marry off my daughter to you. The poor peasant was truthful so he believed those sweet words from his boss. He hoped to be his boss's son-in-law. From then, he worked hard without feeling tired. He waded through the field to unhusk rice, pound rice, pull the stone cylinder, plait cord v.v. from dawn till late at night. How much work his boss gave, though it was hard or not, he never refused. The rich man was very happy to see his tricks were working. How could he marry his daughter to that kind of man? He decided to give his daughter in marriage to a son of another rich man in neighbourhood. They just brought areca nuts and betels for a plighting visit. However, in order to hide that poor peasant, he forced people to keep it secret. As for that poor peasant, he had no doubts at all, and still worked hard and pinned his hopes on his boss. Then the wedding day came. People laid the tables, killed pigs and chicken and the rich man's house was in a bustle. In order to avoid any problems from the poor man on that day, his boss called him and said: - You work well, I am satisfied with that. Today I prepare for your feast already. But you have to have wedding present. I don't demand money or a garden or field. Go into the forest and choose a bamboo with 100 joints, then cut it and bring it here. I will celebrate your wedding. If not, I will marry her to another man. The peasant stood stunned for a while then he took a cleaver and went to the forest. He tried to search for high bamboo groves then wormed into there to chop. But every time a bamboo fell down, he felt disappointed because it had only forty joints. But he wasn't discouraged. He wormed through rugged and inaccessible places to search for the bamboo with 100 joints. He chopped many high bamboos but he couldn't find one. He was so sad that he threw the cleaver and cried a lot. The forest resounded with his cry. Hearing his cry, a Buddha appeared and asked: - Who are you? Why do you cry? He wiped his tears and told Buddha about his problem. Buddha said: - Don't cry anymore. Cut one hundred bamboo’s sections and bring them to me. The peasant followed what the Buddha said. But he cried again when he brought enough bamboo sections. - Why do you cry? The Buddha asked again. He answered: - The rich man told me to cut a bamboo with 100 joints not cut one hundred bamboo sections. The Buddha comforted him and told him to lay 100 bamboo's sections into a line and called: "Join now", "Join now". He followed what the Buddha said. What a marvel! He saw all of sections joined together like the bamboo with 100 joints. He was very happy and hurried to carry the bamboo to home but he couldn't manage to put it on his shoulders. He slumped down on the ground and cried after failing to carry it to home. The Buddha asked: - Why do you cry again? - It's too long to carry home, the peasant answered. The Buddha told him to call "Separate now", "Separate now". Those bamboo sections separated right away. He was happy and thanked the Buddha very much then piling bamboo's sections into 2 bundles carried them with a shoulder pole through the forest. He went home when both families were feasting at the lavish wedding and the bride and bridegroom were going to officiate their wedding ceremony. He put the bamboo's load in the centre of the yard and called the rich man to receive his wedding present. Seeing those bamboo sections, the rich man shouted: - I told you to cut a bamboo with 100 joints, not 100 bamboo sections. Stupid! Without saying another word, he called continuously: "Join now", "Join now". The Bamboo's sections ran out from the bundles in turn and joined into the highest bamboo. The rich man was so upset. He shook the bamboo to make it separate. But he was stuck on the bamboo like another section. He shouted loudly. Both families ran toward him. The bridegroom was the first one to pull his father in law out of the bamboo, but the peasant's call "Join now", "Join now" made him stick to the bamboo and he put the rich man on his head. The bridegroom's father tried to pull his son out of the bamboo but he was stuck to the bamboo, too. Then both families were stuck to the bamboo. The peasant stood calmly in the corner of the yard, waiting for the answer from his boss. At last, his boss had to beg him to release the people from the bamboo and promised to marry his daughter to the peasant. He dared not to fail to keep his promise any more. The peasant called: " Separate now", "Separate now". All of people were released from the bamboo right away. Then the bridegroom and his family went home. The peasant had a nice wife from then.

Translated by Mai Anh Tuyet

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Vietnamese Proverbs

Eating is much but accommodating is little
An nhieu, o may
Eating as in the North; clothing as in the South
An Bac, mac nam
You eat slowly, that is good for stomach; you plough deeply, that is good for fields
An ky no lau, cay sau tot lua
When having a party, go first; when walking in the water, go after
An co di truoc, loi nuoc theo sau
( = He that comes first to the hill may sit where he will = the early bird catches the worm)
One worm may damage the whole cooking soup
Con sau bo dau noi canh
Eating and sitting without labor
An khong ngoi roi
(= to be at the loose end)
Eeating nothing but saying yes
An khong noi co
( = to slander)
It depends on how much of rice you eat the sauce
Lieu com gap mam
( = cut your coat according to your cloth according to your means)
Try to seize the bowl of rice but forget the whole table of food
Tham bat bo mam
One piece of food while hungry equals a big box of food while full
Mot mieng khi doi bang mot goi khi no
The husband eats hamburger; the wife eats spring roll
Ong an cha ba an nem
The man show a pig leg, the woman show a bottle of wine
Ong gio chan gio; ba tho chai ruou [Or: Ong dua chan gio, ba tho chai ruou]
( = scratch my back and I shall scratch yours)
Eats as strongly as elephant
An khoe nhu voi
Eat as small as a cat
An nhu meo
Looks as monkey eats ginger
Nhu khi an gung
The good leaves protect the worn-out leaves
La lanh dum la rach
All chili is hot; all women are jealous
Ot nao ma ot chang cay, gai nao ma gai chang hay ghen chong
Good wine must drink together with good friend
Ruou ngon phai co ban hien
We fence (or protect) the tree that gives us fruits
An cay nao, rao cay ay
When eating chew well, think before speaking
An co nhai, noi co nghi
When eating choose the place, when playing choose your friends
An chon noi, choi chon ba.n
(= be fastidious)
Eat the plum (given as a gift) but give back a peach
An man tra dao
(= Return gift to gift)
It's better to eat salty food and speak the truth than to eat vegetarian and
tell lies
An man noi ngay hon an chay noi doi
(= Better to eat meat and speak truth than to fast and tell lies)
When you eat, it's vegetable, when you are sick, it's medicine
Com thi rau, dau thi thuoc
Pay first and then get what you have paid for
Tien trao chao muc
The student tried to steal the cooking fish
The teacher found out. The student says Oh forgive me
I just opened the fish container.
If you were a bit later, I would have taken the whole fish container.
Hoc tro an vung ca kho
Thay do bat duoc, oi a con chua
Thua thay co moi mo vung
Thay cham ti nua con bung ca noi
When you eat, check the pots and pans; When you sit, check the direction.
An trong noi, ngoi trong huong
(Discreetly check the kitchen so that you don't put your foot in your mouth like asking for another serving when there is barely enough food for all guests, bragging about your preference of seafood when the host is about to serve chicken, etc. Check the direction when you sit -- for example facing South should be reserved for the guest of honor, avoid turning your back to the host's ancestral altar, turning your back to the guest of honor or the host, sitting at better seat than your own elders, sitting at the same level as people of higher ranks in society or in the family, etc.)
A - - A -
Ac gia, ac bao As the call, so the echo
Ai lam nay chiu Who breaks, pays
An chac mac ben Comfort is better than pride
An co nhai, noi co nghi Think today and speak tomorrow
An may doi xoi gac Beggars can't be choosers
An mieng tra mieng Tit for tat
An den oan tra An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth

- B - - B -
Ba nghe ba tri, vi chi ba lap Jack of all trades is master of none
Ban be hieu nhau khi hoan nan A friend in need is a friend indeed
Banh it di, banh qui lai One good turn deserves another
Bat ca hai tay Between two stools, you fall to the ground
Ban cung sinh dao tac Necessity knows no laws
Bat di nhan phe ngon A fool may sometimes give a wise man counsel
Bung doi tai diec Hungry bellies have no ears
But chua nha khong thieng No man is a hero to his valet

- C - - C -
Ca vang bung bo A fair face may hide a foul heart
Cai net danh chet cai dep Beauty is but skin-deep
Cau nhin chin cau lanh Better a lean peace than a fat victory
Cay ngay khong so chet dung A clean hand wants no washing
Cha chung khong ai khoc Everybody's business is nobody's business
Cha me sinh con, troi sinh tinh Many a good father has but a bad son
Chin nguoi, muoi y So many men, so many minds
Cho cay gan nha, ga cay gan chuong Every dog is a lion at home
Cho cui ve rung To carry coals to Newcastle
Choi cho, cho liem mat Familiarity breeds contempt
Chua do ong nghe da de hang tong Catch the bear before you sell his skin
Chua khoi vong da cong duoi Do not halloo till you are out of the wood
Chung nao tat nay The leopard cannot change its spots
Co chi lam quan, co gan lam giau Fortune favours the brave
Co cong mai sat co ngay nen kim A mouse in time may bite in two a cable
Cai kho lo cai khon Adversity brings wisdom
Co kho moi co mieng an No sweet without sweat
Co qua co lai moi toai long nhau Scratch my back; I'll scratch yours
Co thuc moi vuc duoc dao Fine words butter no parsnips
Co tien mua tien cung duoc Money makes the mare go
Con ga tot ma ve long, rang den ve thuoc, ruou nong ve men
Fine feathers make fine birds
Con sau lam rau noi canh
One scabby sheep is enough to spoil the whole flock
Cuoi nguoi hom truoc hom sau nguoi cuoi He laughs best who laughs last

- D - - D -
Di doc tri doc Like cures like
Di hoa vi qui A bad compromise is better than a good lawsuit
Duc toc bat dat Haste makes waste
Dau xuoi duoi lot A good beginning is half the battle
Dep de pho ra, xau xa day lai It's best to wash one's soiled linen at home
Di voi but mac ao ca sa, di voi ma mac ao giay
Who keeps company with the wolf will learn to howl
Doi dau goi phai bo Hunger brings the wolf to the fold
Doi an muoi cung ngon Hunger finds no fault with cookery
Dong tay vo nen keu Many hands make light work
Dong thanh tuong ung, dong khi tuong cau Likes draws to like
Duc nuoc beo co To fish in troubled waters
Duoc dang chan, lan dang dau Give him an inch and he will take a yard
Duong di hay toi, noi doi hay cung Lies have short legs
Duong di o mieng He that has a tongue in his head may find his way anywhere
Dung boi rac len ma ngui Don't trouble trouble until trouble troubles you
Dung dua voi lua Fire is a good servant but a bad master