Cindy Vu, Honorable Mention
My teeth punctured the small sugarcane block and I sucked in the extract. My taste buds are introduced to a familiar luscious flavor that brought back memories. Sugarcane juice reminded me of my grandfather, and his lesson on courage and bravery.
My grandfather, my best friend, had gone into paradise. During the funeral, my face was wet with tears of desperation. Looking at my grandfather cold and stiff, I remembered the time when his body was full of life. I remember sitting on his shoulders and pulling his ears to make him go left and right mimicking a horse rider. I remember feeding the ducks at the pond with him every afternoon. I remember every night the entire family would sit down for dinner at our dining table, and my grandfather would tell us stories about the hard times in Vietnam during the war.
“The intoxicating fumes of bombs and gun powder were so strong that you can taste it. The incalescence smell of rotting corpses was unbreathable. The sweltering weather made it even more difficult to keep on fighting. Being brave is acting on what your heart tells you to do, and challenging yourself with new things, even when you are afraid. Most human beings would lose their will to go on, but those who were brave had a better chance of living. When a situation is perilous, the daring character has the ability to fight through it. The daring character is different from the others.” He picks up a small sugarcane block from his dinner entree. “For example, this sugarcane block is tough to bite because of its strong stalks. Because it’s tough to bite, the sugarcane is protected from predators in the wild that are not able to bite through its tough exterior. Bravery is like these strong stalks, it protects humans from challenges that will be encountered in life.”
“Wow.” The entire table was silent except for my little brother who was scraping the plate with his fork. At that moment, sugarcane was much more than a tall perennial sweet grass. It was a newly created image of advancement and success in my life.
The moment I crushed the sugarcane block with my teeth, I am reminded of my grandfather’s lesson of courage and bravery. Sugarcane is similar to life. Where sugarcane is hard to bite through, life is hard to live with its challenges. When you finally taste the sugarcane’s juice, you finally find happiness in life.
My grandfather whispered to me after telling his story at the dinner table, “I want you to be brave, even if you don’t have me there with you.”