By G. Y. Lee
Published in Paj Ntaub Voice
Magazine, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA, 2005.
Note: this story is fiction and any resemblance to any persons,
living or dead, is purely coincidental. My aim is only to depict
what it can be like for a Hmong man or woman living as refugees in
America with many contradictory traditions to follow. GL
I was sitting in
the tiny kitchen of our small apartment, thinking about my wife, Lhi.
Last night, she told me that she was going away by herself to stay
with some American friends she had met at work. She said that they
had invited her for the weekend and it would be rude to refuse. I
asked where these friends of hers lived but she only said “in
Irvine”, a suburb of Orange County a few miles to the East from
Santa Ana, Los Angeles, where we were living. Although I did not
make a big issue of it as I also felt proud that she had made
friends with real White Americans while I still had not managed to
do so, I was still plagued by doubts. What would other Hmong people
think if I did not put my foot down as a man and just let my wife go
out whenever she liked? Or would I be seen as a modern husband if I
allowed her all the freedom she wanted?
We were Hmong
refugees from Laos and had been in America for about two years,
arriving in July 1980 in
Los Angeles, California’s
biggest city with its then 2.5 million people. For the first six
months, we stayed in a house that was temporarily lent to us from a
Church group which sponsored us from the refugee camp in Thailand.
For a short while, the older refugees attended English classes run
by a local refugee agency. My wife quickly learned to speak English
better than me. The children were enrolled in the nearby primary and
high schools, depending on their ages. Our oldest daughter, Pa Nyia,
was twelve at the time and had to go to high school, even though she
had not studied in the English language before and was not certain
if she could cope, but she picked up the language quickly. Our two
younger children, Maihnu and Tublong, went to primary school.
Maihnu was seven and very bright, able to adapt well to her new
environment. Tublong, our nine-year old son, took a while to get
used to things and was not as babbly as his younger sister. I
originally came from Sayaboury in the north-west of Laos, and so was
my wife. She was of medium height and slim build, with angular
facial features. She had fair skin and long black hair. We met and
married after I completed teacher college in Vientiane in 1968.
After a few months
living in the house that belonged to the church group, we moved to a
small rented apartment in Santa Ana. We paid $320 a month for it.
It was only a two-bed room unit on the first floor in a block of
six, with the floor covered in linoleum tiles and the walls in grey
plaster on the outside and gyprock painted light blue on the
inside. We were renting in Santa Ana to be near other Hmong
refugees in the area. We had all left relatives and friends in Laos
or in the refugee camps in Thailand. It was hard to feel at home in
the new country at first because we could not speak English well and
looked different. Most local people were kind to us, but we felt
rather isolated when only charity workers and church representatives
took interest in us. Our neighbours were mostly African or Mexican
Americans, and they rarely ever spoke to us.
Lhi and I found
work after moving to our apartment. In those days, most new
arrivals looked for work through job placement agencies. I got my
first job as a labourer with a bus-cleaning depot while my wife was
employed in a curtain-making factory in Cypress. We got up at five
to go to work by bus, and did not get back home until late in the
afternoon. Six months ago, I lost my job as there had not been
enough work to do. Since then, we had lived on my wife’s earnings
of $600 a month. It was enough for us then as we only spent about
$200 on our monthly groceries. We did not even have a telephone. We
only had television set that was given to us by our sponsor.
After sitting in
the kitchen for a few minutes, I decided to go and see what my wife
was doing in the bedroom. When I got inside, she was sitting on the
bed. She had put on a pair of black slacks, a light pink blouse and
even a pair of grey high-heel shoes. I did not know whether to
laugh or to cry, after seeing her dressed like that to go away by
herself for the first time in our married life.
“When are you
coming back?”, I asked.
“It will only be
for a few days. I left you some money for groceries in the usual
place in the bedroom cupboard.”
“I hope you also
take some money for yourself.”, I said.
She nodded and got
up to go out of the room, putting her black handbag over her right
shoulder. She did not look at me, but asked me to help with her
black bag. I took it downstairs and out to the front of the
building. The luggage was only medium size but rather heavy. She
obviously took a lot with her just for few days with friends, but
maybe that was what women were like. She must have learned from
American women who wanted lots of clothes and other women stuff.
Lhi was saying
good-bye to the children and lingered behind. I took her bag ahead
to the bus stop on the main road, which was about 50 yards from our
apartment. After she caught up with me, I waited with her until the
bus came and she got on it. I then went back home and spent the
rest of the weekend with my children. We all waited but did not
hear anything from their mother, but then she might not have a phone
to ring us, unlike today when everybody has a cell phone.
Wednesday, my oldest daughter Pa Nyia came home from school, walked
right into her bed room and closed the door. I was in the kitchen
and could hear her soft whimpering. I went in to ask her what had
happened. She was lying on her side on the bed. She would not talk,
but kept her face away from me while blowing her nose into a tissue.
I went to sit on the bed. After she had calmed down somewhat, I
asked her again what the problem was.
“It’s Mother”, she
managed to say, sitting up and finally looking at me. “My friend,
Pova, told me something horrible about her.”
Pova was about Pa
Nyia’s age and the daughter of a Hmong couple we had met after
arriving in Los Angeles. Both girls went to the same high school in
Garden Grove, the neighbouring suburb. Her mother and my wife were
working in the same factory.
“What did she
say?”, I asked.
After a thoughtful
pause, Pa Nyia continued:
“Pova said her
mother told her father that Mother had left us.”
“Is that what she
said?”, I asked in a calm voice to try to hide the emotional
upheaval that was building up inside me.
“I was so ashamed I
couldn’t wait for school to finish. I don’t understand. You and
Mother seemed to be happy together.”
“Yes, we are.
Anyway, just take care of Tublong and Maihnu. It will be dinner
time soon. Cook dinner and eat without me. I am going to find
Mother. I may be back late. Alright? ”
I left the children
and went out into the street, but I did not know where to go to look
for my wife in this very big city. My mind was in turmoil as I
started walking towards the bus stop. Being a refugee in a new
country, I had no relatives or close friends I could call on for
advice or help. As I came to a row of shops, I found a public
phone. I decided to telephone Pova’s mother, Daw. She would have
returned home from work by now as it was past four o’clock in the
afternoon. Unlike us, Daw and her husband, Thay, had a telephone in
their apartment. After I got her on the line, she said that she was
sorry for what happened, but it would be better if I went to see her
so we could talk more easily. They were living in Fountain Valley,
not far from us.
After I arrived by
bus and sat down on the grey vinyl lounge in Daw’s living room, she
offered me a drink of cold water. Thay said they had sent their
children to the local park so we could talk in peace. She started
to tell me about how Lhi met and fell for a fitter who worked at
their factory, an American man called Mark. It began six months
ago. During the last three months, my wife had been given a lift
home every day by this man, leaving Daw to catch the bus home on her
own. Daw said she told Lhi to think about her family and the hurt
she would bring but she did not appear to be very concerned. Two
weeks ago, Mark stopped coming to work and Lhi became very upset.
She phoned him after work The next day, she told Daw that Mark had
left his job and she started to cry, saying that she had to do
something or she would go crazy.
“I didn’t know that
meant leaving you and the children She phoned me last Sunday to say
that she had left.”, Daw said, getting up to go to the kitchen to
get me some more drink.
“She was very good
at hiding all this from us. I only became suspicious when she told
me she wanted to go away for a few days but took a heavy suitcase
with her.”, I explained.
“Well, the first
thing for you to do is to get some welfare assistance. You have
depended on Lhi for money but now she is not with you anymore.”,
“Does she still
come to work with you?”, he asked his wife.
“Yes, she has not
missed one day at work, but she did not look very happy. I think
she now realises her big mistake.”
contacted us at all.”, I said.
“She’s probably too
ashamed. Do you want me to say anything to her?”, Daw asked me
“No, I don’t know
what I want to say to her.”
I did not want to
ask Daw to tell my wife that we missed her. I did not know if I
wanted to take her back, so I did not say anything, although I was
in agony. I felt as if I had been stabbed in the heart and was about
to die. Lhi started her affair about the time I lost my job. It was
good that she did not complain about supporting me and the children
all these past months. I was not only humiliated by her cheating but
was also deeply hurt, and my oldest daughter was, too. I would have
to give up my plan for evening studies and get a job. I was
determined that we would cope somehow with or without my wife. My
children and their future were very important to me.
When I returned to
the apartment, it was after seven in the evening and the children
had finished their dinner. I had some food, and we all went to sit
in the living room to watch television. Pa Nyia had a worried look
on her face but did not ask me any questions. She probably did not
want her young brother and sister to know about their mother.
About an hour
later, there was a knock on the door. We were not expecting anyone.
Tublong went to check, followed quickly by Maihnu who was running to
the door and exclaiming:
“Mother, you are
“Yes, Maihnu. I
only went away for a few days with my friends”, her mother was
saying as if she was only returning from an outing to the beach.
Pa Nyia and I
looked each other as if we were both shocked and relieved at the
same time by her mother’s sudden appearance and the extent to which
she was prepared to hide the truth from us. Lhi carried her black
bag into the living room, her eyes downcast. She went to sit on one
of the ageing armchairs with Maihnu leaning on her right arm. She
did not seem to show anything unusual on her face, only some sign of
tiredness like someone who had just got off the plane after a long
trip. In the fourteen years we had been married, I had never seen
her acting in such a cold-hearted way as if she was sure she could
fool us and get away with it.
responsible father, I tried to behave as normally as possible in
front of the children, but I could not help shooting a question at
“Did you have a
“It was good. We
went to spend Sunday at Malibou Beach, but the rest of the time we
were at my friends’ house.”, she said.
“How many friends
did you go with?”, I asked again with some sarcasm.
“Two. They are a
couple from work.”
I did not know that
cheating could push people to the point of inventing stories to suit
themselves. At that moment, I lost all respect and feelings for my
wife. I was planning to wait until tonight when the children were
asleep to ask her about her affair, but I did not care to know
anymore after hearing her white lies. If she returned and stayed
for the sake of the children, it would be fine by me. If she
thought she could go on deceiving me, she had a big surprise coming.
At this point, it
may be better if I let my wife tell her side of the story. After
all, we now live in America where men and women are supposed to be
equal. She may see things differently.
* * * *
That night we went
to bed about ten after I had showered, Cha kept himself to the far
side of the bed and refused to come near me. I asked him to move
closer but he said he was fine, so we just drifted off to sleep.
The next day, I left early by bus to go to work as I usually did.
When I got to the factory, Daw asked if I was still with Mark. I
told her that it was all finished and I had come back home, that I
was just a stupid fool thinking he cared about me when he did not.
Before I made the big blunder of joining him, we had been to his
apartment in Irvine North a few times. One thing led to another and
we ended up doing the usual thing between a man and a woman. At
first, I felt very guilty but thought I would be able to give up the
relationship after a few months. Later, I grew very attached to him,
especially after he left his job, so I decided to leave my husband
and children. It was as if I was under his control, under a spell I
could not get rid of.
When I got to his
apartment with my heavy bag, Mark was not there. I waited for two
hours until noon before he came home and found me sitting on the
stairs outside his unit. Immediately after we got inside, he asked
what I was doing there. I told him in my broken English that I had
left my family to be with him. He looked shocked and his voice
“Lee, you know it
will never work out.”, he muttered, sitting down on the blue sofa
while I was left standing in the hallway feeling unwelcome.
He had changed my
name to Lee from Lhi because he said my Hmong name was hard to
pronounce and not American, he said.
“I can’t go back
now. I have decided to be with you.”, I persisted.
“But did you ever
ask me? You know how different we are.”
“Well, I thought we
got on very well. Anyway, I didn’t know how to contact you after
you left your job.”
“I don’t want to
sound cruel, but you were why I left.”, he said
“What? But they
told me you left because you had found a better job. Did you leave
because you wanted to get away from me?”, I asked him, feeling
suddenly weak in my knees and tears beginning to well up in my
After I sat down
opposite Mark, I looked at him but he was a different man from the
one I used to know, the one I used to love so much I thought I could
not live without. He was three years older than me, but still
single. He was tall and fair with light blonde hair and a rather
hairy chest. He had started to show a small pouch around his belly
– from “too much beer drinking after work”, he explained.
He now looked
irritated by my presence. I felt as if he had thrown my love for
him into the Pacific Ocean and I had never felt so humiliated before
in my life. It was a good thing I only told my husband and children
that I was going away with friends for a few days. I could still go
“Well, just stay
here until we figure out what to do. I’m going to have a shower,” he
I was feeling
hungry. I did not have breakfast that morning, so I went to the
kitchen to look for something to eat. When I opened the fridge,
there was hardly anything there, except a few cans of beer and a
bottle of lemonade.
It was late on a
Saturday afternoon. I walked down the street to the corner shop and
bought two small bags of rice, some choy vegetables and a loaf of
sliced bread. Carrying them back to the apartment, I realised that
Mark could be right. He ate bread with butter while I could not do
without rice and Chinese vegetables. We were now different only in
small ways, but maybe these little things would all add up one day
to something big that could drive a wedge between us. I cooked
myself a small meal and ate on my own while Mark watched football on
the tube with a can of beer and his big feet on the coffee table in
front of him. That night, we slept in his bed. The next day was
Sunday and we got up late, but as soon as Mark had a few slices of
toast and coffee, he installed himself in front of the television
again to watch football with another can of beer. He showed little
interest in me as if I was there only to disturb his well-arranged
After breakfast, I
decided to go window-shopping in
Irvine Avenue to
pass the time and to think over what I needed to do. That was where
I telephoned Daw to get some advice from her. I told her what
happened. She was very understanding but scolded me for my
stupidity. She said I should just return to Cha and my children. I
said I would think it over, but it took me three days before I got
the courage to do it. I decided that I would make as little of this
incident as possible so that my husband would not come to know of it
and everything would soon be back to normal. I would keep on working
hard and help my family make a success of our new life in America.
The day after I
returned home and told Daw at work that it was all over between me
and Mark, she joked that I only had a crush on the mythical big
White Man. She hoped I had learned a big lesson from my huge
mistake, and that nothing else would happen to me. I asked her why.
She told me that Cha and Pa Nyia knew about my affair and my leaving
the family for another man. This really sent my hope for a
reconciliation crashing down. I suppose I had to pay for my sins. It
was fate. I was selfish. I did not understand what possessed me to
commit adultery. I was expecting some sort of angry outburst from
Cha but he acted like nothing bad had happened. We continued to
sleep in the same bed, although he did not show much interest in me
One afternoon, Cha
announced to the children that he had found a job working in a
factory in Stanton making aluminium windows. They were all very
happy together, and I felt left out because he did not even look at
me when he was telling the good news to the children. That night as
we were preparing for bed, I said to Cha that he should not have
given up his plan for more studies and found a factory job so soon,
since I could go on working to support the family.
He looked out of
the window into the blackness of the night and replied:
“Well, it’s time I
do something for the children. I am the man of the family and also a
father. It’s my job to look after them.”
“But didn’t you say
that you wanted to learn more English, then enrol in some
vocational course so you could find a well-paying job? Isn’t it
both our dream that we could one day stop slaving away in
factories?”, I asked him.
“No, I don’t have
anymore dreams. I have responsibilities I need to fulfil. My
children’s needs are more urgent. I can’t go on dreaming and
thinking only about myself.”
I noted with
sadness that he did not mention me as part of his responsibilities,
and it made me feel very alone.
About three weeks
later, Cha informed the children that he was going to take them to
roller-coaster rides at Disneyland in Anaheim. They became very
excited, and Maihnu expectantly asked me:
“Mother, can you
Before I could
answer, my husband said:
“Mother is busy
going shopping with her friends. She will come another time.”
I had not told him
any such thing as I was actually free. Again, Cha seemed to want to
exclude me from the family, to humiliate me. Trying to control my
shaking voice, I lied and said to the children:
“Yes, I am sorry.
I have arranged to go shopping with Aunty Daw. Go with your
father. I am sure you will have a great time.”
After they had left
the following Saturday morning, I went to the bedroom and cried my
There were many
other incidents like this. I told Daw about these attempts to shun
me by my husband, but Daw only advised me to give him more time as
he was probably still hurting.
By 1983, more and
more Vietnamese and Hmong refugees had settled in our area and
opened many Asian grocery shops. We no longer needed to go to
Chinatown in Los Angeles, now that we did our shopping mostly in
Santa Ana, I went one day to see the Hmong welfare worker at the Lao Family
Community, a welfare organisation formed by General Vang Pao, the
Hmong refugee leader. I wanted to do something about the problem I
was having at home. Although Cha and the children had never said
anything to me about my affair with Mark, I started to feel
oppressed by their silence and their continued shunning of me. I
did not want to bring this to a head with Cha. As a wronged
husband, he might explode and tell me to leave. I did not want to
leave, as I had nowhere to go and I also wanted to stay with the
children. Although Pa Nyia now did a lot of the cooking and
household chores, she would be marrying soon and Cha would need
help. As a Hmong woman in a foreign land, I was sure the court would
not give me custody of the children if I got a divorce, since I had
once clearly fallen short in my duties as a responsible mother.
I cannot remember
her name now, but the young female worker at the Lao Family was very
understanding. She told me that she would contact my husband and ask
him for his side of the story before deciding what advice to give
me. She later paid a visit to our apartment, but Cha only told her
that there were no problems and there must have been some
misunderstanding because I was never barred on purpose from
anything. To show that he was the head of the family and was in
control, he would have to deny that there were problems between us.
I did not argue with him, but I wished he would come out with the
truth so we could sort things out and resume our life as a loving
family. I made a big mistake but I was prepared to do anything to
make up for the pain I had caused. I bought Cha new clothes and
shoes, but he never used them. He only put on the ones he had
bought himself. I gave the children many of the things they needed,
but Cha also spoilt them with toys and new clothes. It was like we
were both competing for the children’s attention. I thought a lot
about getting help from other Hmong friends, but in the end I
decided that maybe no one could help me so I just had to accept my
situation at home in silence.
In 1988, we bought
our first home in Garden Grove. It was a single-storey white cottage
with three bedrooms and a shingle roof. It was there that one day
when the children were not home, I asked Cha why he did not talk
much to me anymore, like he used to do during our first two years in
America. He looked at me as if surprised, then said:
“Why do I have to
be nice and talk to you when you have not been nice to me?”, his
words rang out like a burst of bullets.
“It’s been many
years now. You still can’t forget?”, I asked, pleading for his
“No, if you really
want the truth. How can I? Do you know what many Hmong people still
call us?”, he said as if wanting to get some long pent-up feelings
off his chest.
“No, what do they
“You, as the first
cheating married Hmong woman in
Orange County. And I
am the spineless husband. I am not spineless. I let you stay for the
children. I want them to have a happy normal life.”
“But why have you
not said anything about my affair? Why have you just ignored it and
made it so hard for me?”, I asked as cautiously as I could.
“What is the use?
I have to put up with things quietly. I see that as more dignified
for a man, for a husband in this new country. I am Hmong, but I have
to be like an American man, too. It is better than to beat up or
kill a cheating wife and then commit suicide – like some Hmong men
have done in Wisconsin or Minnesota. Why waste my life that way on a
Instead of saying
that with a self-satisfying smirk, his voice was calm and sad. It
must have been difficult for him to try to be both Hmong and
American at the same time, to put up with gossip and humiliating
comments from other people. Slowly, tears of shame and need for
forgiveness began to overwhelm me. After trying to keep it to myself
for so long, I just could not stop from crying openly in front of
Cha. I went to sit at the kitchen table and covered my face with my
hands. I let my tears run, my sobs rushing out from my aching
heart. Let it come out, it might help make things better, I said to
“You may as well
kill me… Better than keep on torturing me…. We have suffered long
enough for it …. I don’t deserve to live after what I did…”, I said
as if to provoke him to do something.
“If you think I
will fall for your crocodile tears, you are wrong.”, I heard Cha say
He must have been
deeply hurt to have become so hard with his feelings. He was
usually a gentle person. Still crying, I turned towards him and
said between my broken sobs:
“I have made…. a
big mistake. I know…. I have hurt you terribly….. I will do
anything …. to make up…. Just tell me what to do ….. and I will do
it. But don’t leave me out of your life….. Don’t take my children
away by shunning me.... I am very sorry….”
“Sorry, sorry… Is
that all you can say? Will being sorry bring back the trust and the
good feelings I had for you? I did not know you were capable of so
many lies when you wanted to cover up your cheap ass,” he blurted
“I did not want to
lie…. It was like…. I was not myself… I was afraid to tell the
truth…. I did not want the children to know… I was scared you and
the children would not want me back…. I love you all dearly.… You
are my life, you know that… Please forgive me…..”, I babbled on.
“No, all those lies
were the real you! You were overcome by lust for White meat and you
forgot how much we loved you! It’s all too late now. Everything’s
broken, gone long ago!”, he shouted, standing between our scratchy
white fridge and the brown kitchen door.
I saw his face
contorted with anger and he was staring at me in contempt as if I
was just a dirty dog, a piece of rubbish from the street. I became
desperate and fell on the floor next to him. I clang to one of his
knees, my sobs becoming all the louder. I did not know how long I
was in that position. But before I realised it, I was sent hurtling
against the kitchen cupboard doors under the sink. My body crumpled
in a heap and my head was hurting like it was going to split into
small pieces. My husband had given me his biggest kick, trying to
bring to an end my grip on his knee, on his life as it were. It
might not be intentional, but I was elated that he had finally
acknowledged my wifely mistake, bringing out to the open the fact
that I had hurt him and the children and this was how he wanted to
deal with it. I was in great pain, half leaning against the cupboard
and half lying on the floor, but I felt forgiven and redeemed. I
felt that I had finally come of age in America as a Hmong wife who
had trampled on her husband’s manly dignity, and as an American
woman who wanted to live up to her rights but did it wrongly by
hurting her own family. I felt happy for what Cha did, for his
deliverance. Then, I felt blood running behind my neck down to my
back. My head started to spin and everything went black around me.
Cha’s violent push
had made a big gash into the skin on the back of my head when I hit
one of cupboard door handles. I spent three days in Stanton Hospital
to have my wound stitched up and my brain scanned. Fortunately,
there were no bruises to other parts of my body. Cha had put some
rough bandages around my head to stop the bleeding before calling an
ambulance. He told the ambulance officers that I slipped and fell
heavily on some water on the vinyl-covered floor of our kitchen. I
did not know if he actually spilled water there before the ambulance
arrived or not. Maybe he did. Later, he must have told the same
story to the children, but I never asked.
After I came back
home from the hospital, Cha seemed to give me more attention, even
talking nicely to me again and giving me a Hmong “soul-calling” and
wrist-stringing ceremony (‘hu plig thiab khi tes”) to bring me luck
and good health. It was the first time we had such a big family
function, attended by many people. By now, there were about five or
six thousand Hmong refugees living in Orange County.
“Were you afraid
when I passed out?”, I joked with Cha one night.
“Well, I thought I
had killed you, just like you asked me when you were crying. I was
scared for the children if I should go to prison. Lucky it was not
very serious.”, he replied shame-facedly.
“Not very serious,
with my head split open?”
“Sorry. I hope it
won’t leave a big scar,” he tried to assure me.
Would being sorry bring me back to life if you had killed me?”, I
was mimicking what he screamed to me just before the accident.
Things are different now,” he said and we both laughed, which we
had not done together for a long while.
It was another week
before Cha let me go to work. He must have thought that we were now
even, and he could at last forgive me. He might also feel some
guilt. I had scarred his heart and mind, but he had also scarred me
physically. I told him a big lie about going away with friends when
I left him for another man, but he now also had his own big lie
about me tripping over by accident when it was his heavy shove that
smashed my head against the sink cupboard.
After nearly 30
years in America, the children have all grown up and married, except
our son. They had their ups and downs during their high school
years, but all three seemed to have emerged unscathed. Maihnu is
now 36 and living in Huntington Beach here with her Vietnamese
husband and three children. She was the lazy one and did not go to
university like her older brother and sister. Tublong is working but
still lives with his father and me. He is 34 but does not want to
settle down yet. He is too quiet and does not seem to be able to
find the right girl. Maybe we may have to get him a mail-order bride
from Laos, like some Hmong men have done! Pa Nyia moved to San
Diego with her Hmong husband after she got married in 1986. She is
now 40 and has two teenage children, one boy and one girl who are
both doing university studies.
It is hard to
believe how time flies. It seems only yesterday that we first came
to America as
refugees. Today, we have about 200,000 Hmong here scattered in many
States. When I think back on all the pain and joy that we went
through, I feel grateful for being given a second chance in life
here. It may not be easy to get a good job or to overcome the
language and cultural barriers, but so long as you work hard to get
skills and to find a job, this country will open doors to you. But
you have to do your part and should not hide behind lame excuses.
You can hide anything but not reality - like my attempt to hide my
affair from my husband. Although Cha and I do not talk about this
sad part of our past anymore, I hope that his hurt had healed the
way my head wound had healed. The big scar on the back of my head
was the price I paid for my lies and my infidelity. I suppose I was
too flippant and did not consider the consequences. I forgot that
although I had rights as a woman, I also had many obligations. I can
never be fully American, as I am an integral part of the Hmong
people and their culture. I cannot change the colour of my skin. I
have a nice family that I should love and not hurt. If you have a
good husband and loving children, you have to consider their
happiness first. Your own wishes and desires come second. You have
to give and to yield, for that is what love and being a wife and
mother are all about.