Vietnam Highlands. Free Image by ThuyHaBich from Pixabay.

Quarantatré anni

Si credevano morti. 43 anni dopo, i due amici d'infanzia hanno scoperto di essere sopravvissuti alla guerra.
United States, Northern America

Story by Y-Danair Niehrah. Translated by Anita Landolfo
Published on July 25, 2022.

This story is also available in GB kr



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Quarantacinque anni fa mio padre, Y-Luin, lasciava il Vietnam nascosto nella stiva di un Lockheed C-141B Starlifter. Qualche giorno dopo, Saigon cadeva e questa è la sua storia…

Y-Luin appartiene alla tribù Rhade della popolazione Degar - Montagnard (figli delle montagne), minoranza etnica che considera casa l’altopiano centrale vietnamita. Suo padre, Y-Thih, fu rinchiuso in prigione più volte, battendosi per l’indipendenza e la parità di diritti del popolo Degar. 

All’inizio degli anni’70, Y-Luin era l’unico studente Degar nel suo liceo a Saigon; lì suo padre trovò lavoro presso il governo vietnamita, mentre sua madre rimase a Buôn Ma Thuột.

A quel tempo, Y-Luin era al settimo cielo. Era presidente dell’atletica del suo liceo, vinse numerose cinture nere in diverse arti marziali, conseguì il diploma di maturità e superò il test di ammissione alla facoltà di medicina. [1] Il suo sogno era quello di andare a studiare in Francia, forse a Parigi.

Al suo migliore amico, Thế Huỳnh Hữ, raccontava con entusiasmo dei suoi progetti futuri; insieme trascorrevano le notti di luna piena praticando arti marziali, studiando per gli esami e sognando le loro case future.

Il 25 aprile del 1995 Y-Thih disse a Y-Luin di lasciare la città, senza mai spiegargli che l’Esercito del Vietnam del Nord (NVA) avesse preso la base aerea di Biên Hòa. Y-Luin pensò che si trattasse di una sorpresa e che suo padre avesse messo una buona parola per lui, riuscendo a farlo accedere in una scuola in Francia. Così salì a bordo di un Lockheed C-141B Starlifter per Guam come rifugiato, ignaro della morte di sua madre, uccisa da una trappola esplosiva a Buôn Ma Thuột.

Y-Luin non disse mai addio a Thế e quello fu uno dei più grandi rimpianti della sua vita, una delle cose di cui mi parlò quando, anni dopo, mi ritrovai a chiedergli della sua infanzia davanti ad una bottiglia di vino. Ogni giorno, io e mio fratello cercammo senza sosta Thế sui social media, ma tutto fu inutile. 

Thế e Y-Luin si credevano morti.

Quarantatré anni dopo, mio padre trovò il video Youtube della rimpatriata delle classi 1970-1975 del suo liceo e scoprì che qualcuno lo stava cercando, in quanto aveva commentato lasciando i propri recapiti per essere ricontattato. Dopo alcune email e telefonate i due amici d’infanzia si erano finalmente ritrovati. 

Il giorno di Natale del 2018 si rividero per la prima volta. Dopo quasi cinquant’anni, scherzavano ancora l’un l’altro, soprattutto perché mio padre aveva perso quasi tutti i capelli dall’ultima volta che si erano visti. La guerra aveva distrutto le loro case e, dopo la caduta di Saigon, Thế aveva persino trascorso nove anni in un campo di lavoro forzato, fino a quando non riuscì a fuggire dal paese salendo su una barca nel 1984.

A seguito della tragedia, entrambi hanno avuto successo in America; hanno messo su famiglia e costruito una nuova casa, ritrovando una delle più grandi benedizioni: l’amicizia, quel forte legame che pensavano di aver perso nel 1975 e che finalmente sbocciava più forte che mai. 

 

Note a piè di pagina

[1] Per accedere alla facoltà di medicina è necessario sostenere un test di ammissione.


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Y-Danair Niehrah

Y-Danair Niehrah

Y-Danair Niehrah is a Degar/Montagnard-Vietnamese American living in Charleston, SC. Outside of his editorial work in the publishing industry, Y-Danair loves to write historical and genre fiction and hopes some day to teach craft to other aspiring writers. 

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