Tu Ha An - Dreamlike & Multicultural Illustration

The most painful abandonment

These lines were first written in August 2021.

In the creative journey, I believe that the most painful abandonment is the abandonment of an idea that you cherish.

My maternal grandfather was a writer, a memory keeper, a storyteller. At this very moment, if I close my eyes and think about him, I will see a picture of an old man taking notes and neatly filing the photos in a large family album.

I have always had a rather vain belief that if one day, Grandpa must choose one of his descendants to continue his missions of memory keeper and storyteller, the chosen one will be me!

One of the stories he often told was the return to Vietnam in the 1960s of my great-uncle, a Vietnamese man who fell in love with a French woman. Their ten-day trip from Paris to Hanoi was the first civilian trip to Vietnam after the war.

Years pass, fate sends me to France to find the Franco-Vietnamese family of great uncle. The story of the famous trip returns in each meal, with joy and nostalgia. At that time, I was young and full of enthusiasm, the flame in me slipped into me the idea of writing a book to immortalize this story carrying not only the family value, but also a historical value of two countries.

I wanted to become the new “storyteller”.

In 2019, I returned to Vietnam to spend time with my grandfather, and start this project. But, for several reasons, I realised that I am not the right person to tell this story. The idea is still precious and exciting to unfold, but since it is not meant for me, the more I try to hold it in my hands, the faster it slips through my fingers, like sand. 

Ever since I can remember, with the character of warrior inherited from my grandfather, I tend to go through with every idea, even when I knew it was not meant for me, despite the investment of time, the loss of money, the deterioration of my health or the destruction of some relationships. For me, giving up is 100 times more difficult than finishing.

In 2019, for the first time, I learned to let go of an idea that I cherish. However, I was secretly hoping that another person would sow this idea again, and I promised myself that I would help them to assume the mission.

June 2021, my grandfather passed away.

The Vietnamese have a custom: for those who lived more than 90 years, their funerals will be called “hồng tang” (red funeral), congratulating the deceased with the blessings of a long life. The funeral of my grandfather, a centenarian, was a “hồng tang”.

After the mourning and gratitude, I realize that the idea has lost the opportunity to be realized. Nobody had sown it. My regret soaked my thoughts, accompanied by pain. The idea disappeared forever with the death of grandpa.

In the creative journey, I believe that the most painful abandonment is the abandonment of an idea that you cherish.

Keep creating!

Tu Ha An

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