If I may divide the current generation of the people of Vietnam, then I would say there are two generations. The first would be the generation that lived or were born during the Vietnam war and the second would be the generation that were born and alive after the war.
After the hustle and bustle of lights and explosions from the fireworks to celebrate Tet New Year’s Eve on Hoan Kiem Lake was over, I heard music not far from where I stood. As it turned out an ensemble of an elderly couple was immersed in the musical instrument they were playing. There was a saxophone, two violins, and a keyboard. All of it was emitted through a portable loudspeaker. It was past midnight. The area around Hoan Kiem lake was still crowded. From children, teenagers, man and women, to the elderlies, all refused to go home in this New Year’s Eve. Despite the freezing temperature of North Vietnam’s winter.
I then joined the crowd and recorded the elderly couple who were playing these instrumental music. Their music was so beautiful that the people who were watching got lost in their music. This elderly couple were so focused on the songs they were playing, especially the grandpa who was playing the saxophone whilst moving his body around. But I didn’t know why behind the notes they were playing I felt a painful emotion, unexplainable sadness. Moreover the melody was played using violins and saxophone. It was like listening to “Valse Sentimentale” by Tchaikovsky, the famous composer from Russia. There was a similar emotional quality between the two. In the twilight of the park lamps on the banks of Hoan Kiem river, I didn’t know why I felt like I was immersed in the historical events of this country that had embraced the communist ideology. While I kept listening and recording to the music, my gaze was wondering between the old buildings around the Hoan Kiem River. Truly an emotional depth that coursed into my very soul after the hustle and bustle of the firework festival. Why was the music from this elderly couple sounded so powerful? I didn’t know for sure. In the closing sentence of the ‘Musashi’ novel, Eiji Yoshikawa wrote :
“The world is always full of soundwaves
‘Small fish give in themselves to the waves, dancing, singing, and playing, but who could understand the heart of the ocean thirty meters down? Who would know of it’s depth?”
Vietnam today has moved with a new wind, a new light. However, tonight time felt like it had stop to a halt.