I have just read Ky-An's Tribute Page for our Teacher Ly Chanh Duc and our friend Dat again and the tears,
once again, have swollen up my eyes. Your description of Teacher Duc and Dat has touched my heart so deeply.
I still remember the name "Ly Chanh Duc" but I cannot, at first, figure out how our teacher Duc looked like
at that time. But as you mentioned the songs "Oh My Papa" and "By The Light Of The Silver Moon", all of the
sudden, the memories of Teacher Ly Chanh Duc came back to me. Thay Ly Chanh Duc was a little short and thin
and had a French wife. I think Thay Duc was a perfectionist as Thay always wanted his students to take a look at
all the meanings, derivations, phrases and examples of a new word they happened to learn. Thay Duc once introduced
his little daughter to us, a group of female students, I think Thanh-My and Hong were there, too. She was just about two
years old but Thay had already begun to teach his little child Vietnamse and French at the same time. Thay told us then
with pride that his little daughter could speak French at the age of two and, as an evidence, Thay told us a short story
about his little daughter. She once wanted to eat one end of the baguette, so she pointed her finger to the baguette end
and said in French "le coude", which means "the elbow". Thay explained then with conspicuous pride that the little child
wanted to eat one end of the baguette but she put it wrongly as "le coude" and , as a good father, Thay could still
understand what his little daughter meant. :-))
As far as I am concerned, Thay Ly Chanh Duc was a very good teacher, his language know-how was absolutely
uncompetitive but his thinking was sometimes and somehow in disorder. I heard at that time that Thay had suffered a
mental illness before he passed away. I am not sure until now whether the rumor was true or not.
About Dat, what I most remember of Dat was his smiles which were always on his lips. No matter these smiles
were narrow or broad, every time I looked at Dat, I always found a welcome smile there. Maybe that was the reason
why I could always share all of my true thinking with Dat so freely at that time. His warm smiles just smiled away
all of my sorrow and worries in such dark days of my life. The female classmates - including Hong, Thanh-Thuy, Ngoc-Lan
and me - used to tease Dat maybe because of his nice smiles, too. Whatever we did or said to Dat, he just
gave us back heart warming smiles.
There is still one thing I cannot understand about Dat until now. Dat was a guitarist and used to play the
guitar right after the event of April 1975 to help the dance group -"Van Cong" (dance). Hong, My, me and some other girls
of higher English classes belonged to this dance group at that time. Once we needed some male dancers for our group, but
because there were not enough volunteers from our male classmates, Dat had to quit his job as the guitarist for the dance
group and began learning to dance with us. After a probation time of many days, our dancing group leader had to give up
the idea of recruiting Dat into the dance group as, in spite of his excellent knowledge of music, Dat could
not get along with the dance rhythm. When we moved up then Dat got down, and when we moved down then Dat got up. :-)) In
a word, Dat could not keep himself in harmony with the whole group no matter how hard he tried.
Why a good guitarist like Dat could not keep the dance rhythm still remains a mystery for me until today. But one
thing I know for sure about Dat is that I still keep a cozy corner in my mind and my heart for Dat, a nice
friend of ours with heart opening smiles.
Pham Thi Tho