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 The Little Old Lady’s Den of Corporate Sin
(Vietnam Version)

By Jamie Isabel Rosado

I walked into every DVD shop I saw in downtown Ho Chi Minh. I was on the lookout for Dr. FeelGood, a British TV series from the late 70’s that I had forgotten at home and now missed dearly. I know from reading the article, "The Limits of Authenticity in Vietnamese Consumer Markets" by Elizabeth Vann about the authenticity of products in Vietnam that the “counterfeit” things that were available for purchase would not be of the same quality as the original I had back home.  I also knew that I was too desperate to see it again to care about the legal ramifications of my actions.  
 The last shop I walked into turned out to not be a DVD shop but a cd shop. They were playing the familiar opening sequence of "Aunque te Fuiste" by Don Omar as I entered. I started to hum along as memories began to enter my conscious thoughts from my subconscious.

That night there were clear skies, a million stars and a full moon; I was sitting on a beach in early December. It was a beautiful night that others may have killed for but I would not have noticed had my friend not pointed it out to me. I had had one fight too many with the man I had married at seventeen and knew he was leaving soon. Deep down I knew that I was better off and all the lines from Hollywood best girlfriend movies but then no one could say a word to me about anything where Julian and I were concerned, and trust me they tried. My friends seeing that I did not want to talk eventually drifted away. I had come there to come up with the words to say that would make him stay but every time I opened my mouth to speak no words came out. As I was thinking one of them turned on a cd player and the song then began to play.
“You walked out without an explanation and forgot that I too love you. Come back …… or at the very least tell me why you left.”

  The lyrics spoke to me in a way that my friends could not and I listened over and over again. I prepared myself to head home with the song as moral fortification. I pulled into my driveway and headed inside. While I had been gone he had taken everything he owned and had left, he had even taken his box of Almond milk and thrown it into the trashcan. I then crawled onto the couch and pulled out the copy of that song that my friend had let me have, I played it over a million times that night. Cursing myself for though I thought I had understood it the time before in that moment I had a whole new understanding for it now.

The song ended and the ensuing silence snapped me back to my current reality, I was now standing still and though my friends hadn’t noticed it I was crying. Pull yourself together I told myself he left nearly three years ago and he isn’t coming back; besides you are standing in a cemented in stall in a Vietnamese market. Then I began to laugh at the oddness of it all and enjoy the next song that played.

The little old lady who is tending the shop looks intently at me and that’s when I realize that she saw my tears. Speaking more English than I thought she could she asked me if that song was really so sad. She told me that she was sorry she didn’t understand the song because she heard it so often because her son loved this singer. I opened my mouth to explain it to her and then closed it.  I didn’t know where to start. Was there a way that I could translate this song from Spanish to English and still make it through the cultural barrier that stood between us? Was it common for a woman to leave a man in Vietnam or was it unheard of?  I imagined that if I spilled out the wrong thing that she would lose her love for the song. I contemplated not saying anything and just becoming, in her eyes, the dense Hispanic American tourist. In the end I realized that if I said nothing I would always wonder what would have happened if I had said something.

   I took in a deep breath and picked the cd up off the counter. I bought another copy I did not need As she handed me my change back I started to speak “his love has left” I said “he can not understand why she has forgotten about him and eventually he accepts that she will not return and asks to at least give him the courtesy of telling him why she left.”   She nodded, smiled and said that now she understood however I knew that she hadn’t.  My friends were ready to leave so we departed and as we exited the store a young Vietnamese man entered the store I wondered if he was her son but only held the thought for a second. My friends were walking ahead so I ran up to catch them.

I didn’t think about that day again till I started to pack my bags to head home and came across the counterfeit Don Omar cd. I sat down after I picked it up and realized something in that instant. That woman may have not understood my meaning but I am still happy that I said something. I find myself secretly overjoyed that I did not find the DVD I was looking for or else I would not have had that connection with an old lady in Vietnam. 

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