Papa’s retirement

Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm

Every year papa said— this year I will retire, definitely! At 72, papa is saying no— Congratulations papa. I had no other words. (That was a few days ago)

I will never meet a man like my papa. Five feet tall, square jaw, big bright eyes and a voice that commands quiet. Barely taller than mama he commands the room.

When we left East Hills hostel, papa knocked on every door until they said yes. Who could say no? Because to every question papa’s answer was—yes! Papa first job was as a carpenter, since they asked— are you a carpenter? Yes! I came to Australia with empty hand! Holding his palms together face up.

The years drifted away, the factory hand became the supervisor, the supervisor became manager, papa’s name became synonymous with employer. Papa helped employed the unemployable; the old uncle with a hearing problem who could speak two…

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