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  • They were always feeding me, my relatives in Vietnam.

    Plates heaped with sizzling meats, snails bathed in coconut milk, fragrant rice, garlicky pea shoots. Bowls of vermicelli noodles swimming in a tomato crab broth. Caramelized catfish, steamed intestine, rice flour dumplings stuffed with mushrooms and ground pork. Then there was dessert; it was always fruit. Mangosteens were my favorite.

    Before I even cleared my plate, one aunt's (or cousin's, or second cousin's) chopsticks would be loading more food for me to eat. Protests fell on deaf ears. There was nothing to be done but eat the second helping. Then the third. Then the fourth, if I was sitting at particularly watchful table.

    I didn't understand at the time. Didn't they get that I was full?!

    Only much later, back in the States, did I begin to realize the unspoken words behind their actions. In that poverty-stricken country, a country whose people (even the children of its expats) struggle to say things like feelings or love, to feed is to show what you cannot put in words.
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