Saigon by Nguyen Ngoc Ngan (Summary and Reflection)

The article Saigon, April 1975 by Nguyen Ngoc Ngan, narrates the story of his family and countrymen’s traumatic sufferings from the long war in Saigon. It begins when the author introduces its setting – year 1975 of April in Saigon. The sudden explosion awoke Ngan up and made him think if the war would really be ended soon. This was followed by a dramatic conversation between him and Tuyet Lan, his wife. They were in a dilemma whether to move away from their place to be safe or to stay and wait for the war to end very soon. The next day, they went to Saigon Embassy to inquire about available flights. People are all coming over to the place with the same purpose of what they have. They had seen Americans extending their hands to the oppressed people by giving foods, and other stuffs. Unexpected things happened the following day. Bombings and attacks distressed the people everywhere in the place. The author recounted his traumatic experiences that day; how they went to the Saigon Harbor and saw people in rage and desperation to get a boat ride. Ngan and Tuyet Lan had no choice but to look for somewhere else that could protect them. They found a school, and upon staying at it, he blamed himself for being so indecisive to move out from Saigon. He blamed himself for thinking that Americans could help them out to cease the war. As when the people emptied the place, they started walking way home on the road where people dropped like flies with their weapons. They have witnessed the terrible result of the endless war. Then it was ended by a stream of nervousness of his family the moment they arrived at home. Flashback started to Ngan when he burned those photos of him in military uniform and other photos would connect his family with the active support of the regime.

Well, the story is indeed captivating to the heart. It gives the reader a sense of sympathy to the people in Saigon during 1975. Who would ever be happy to read a story about a great number of innocent people dying because of war? I remember Eric Arthur Blair once said that there is peace in war. This I guess can be applied to the mind state of the author on how he sees that after the destructions caused by a great war, peace would come. Maybe this is his reason why he became indecisive and why he blamed himself for everything. Ngan and Tuyet Lan genuine and warm love for each other was also one of the things that struck me the most. Both of them have different decisions, and in that moment where their lives were at risk, instead of putting the blame to each other, they have supported each other. In the end of the story, I felt sorry for Ngan for sacrificing and flaming his photos from his military days just to survive and attain peace. I think that act he had done symbolizes letting go of the past to welcome a better tomorrow in life.


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