Red Motorbike – A Short Story from Vietnam

Chu Thi Minh Hue, a writer and journalist from Vietnam, the Land of Blue Dragon, shares her short story

Chu Thi Minh Hue

Chu Thi Minh HueWriter, poet and journalist Ms. Chu Thi Minh Hue, was born in 1981. She has half a dozen books to her credit – a poetry collection, 3 short story collections, a long story for children and a novel.

Red motorbike

Di talks about that motorbike every day. He said he would buy a Way motorbike, just over VND ten millions, why did his parents think so long. He will buy a red one. Girls like red. Ms. Ngoc might sit on that red motorbike speeding up that will light up the whole mountain way.

He drops school for a few days. The teacher has to go to his house to see why he dropped school. Parents do not say a word to the teacher. He frankly says that his parents should give him money to buy a motorbike to go to school.

The teacher is funny and annoys at him. She says he is not old enough to ride a motorbike. He would be in the twelfth grade, eighteen years old that he can be able to ride a motorbike. Still being a pupil, he can’t ride a motorbike, so why buy it?

Mother is sad and wants to hide it from the teacher, but thought, maybe only the teacher could advise him “Teacher, he said to buy a motorbike to take a girl, he will get married next year after school.”

– Oh, no, Dear Di’s parents! Next year, when he finishes the ninth grade, he has to go to the district to study high school, why get married? But Di is not old enough to get married. Only twenty years old to get married. He should go to high school, then go to work to save money to get married.

What the teacher said, parents think for a long time. Di refuses to go to school. If dropping school at this age, it would be waste in studying some years ago.

He does not eat nor play or cannot do anything, just lies down sadly. At the end of school time, he sits at the door and looks to the commune. “Now they are coming. But today they still have to wait for the eighth graders finishing fifth period, so they’ll come over here shortly. If they pass, I have to hide in the room. Parents, sit here and be ashamed.” He told himself but no one at home to listen. Parents also had to do farming. The house only has enough corn for people and pigs. Money is not enough to buy a cow, how can sit here to listen to him.

If it lasts long, he would die. Parents have to listen to him. Anyway, money or a motorbike is to get the daughter-in-law. If he chooses a motorbike driving a girl, to gets a wife, parents would listen.


The bright red motorbike comes to the gate. He gets down to cut off the threshold to rush in. Dad looks from the pigpen, not dares to say anything. If he decides to do anything, his father has no reason to say back. He threw the threshold into the kitchen and tells his mother to fire.

– Leave the gate locked at night so that the chickens won’t come out in early morning, it’s not good.

– Mother puts it on yourself, I don’t know.

He does not care anything but look at the motorbike. He said that he had just took Ngoc back home. It takes a little time to take her house, but takes long way to this house, the road is too bad.

– Father is going to hang on here tomorrow morning to push me up to the hanging lake. When getting there, I drive to the school by myself.

– Can I do it?

– Quite easy. Here, hold your hands to the back of the motorbike. Push it up. Whenever I say “push”, then you push, say “leave” then you let it go. I gear to drive up to the gate slope. Why is the slope of our gate so high, lots of rocks? Tomorrow, you will make the road flat from the gate to the hanging lake so that I can go easily. This road can only be driven by horses. My beautiful motorbike will be damaged very quickly. There are no horses in our house, such road is full of rocks; only parents can walk.

Father also thinks that tomorrow both mom and dad have to take a break farming to make a better road for him to ride his motorbike. He feels sorry for too much money for the motorbike. That vehicle is to get his daughter-in-law, he must take care of it.

Father tries to push the motorbike with all his might. The son sits on it, foot presses the gear level. The motorbike speeds up. Father loses balance, almost face down on the rocky road. However, father does let the son know, otherwise he might scold. Father continues to clink and push with all his might. Running and pushing at the same time. Father has never done such a heavy job. While pushing and afraid to scratch the motorbike.

Thought that just to push a little and it will run uphill on its own. However, it has to push to the hanging lake to reach the downhill bend, so it can go on its own. Near the top of the slope, the motorbike is turned off and stopped. He is fell down. He screams in pain. The motorbike is scratched and he curses his father for not knowing to push.

Motorbike-Tours-Chase-Martin-15It’s true that father doesn’t really know to push. He never did before. And he is also trying to push. Pushing and keeping it from falling down. He worries the motorbike scratched but worrying his son falling and getting hurt much more. Father pushed with all his heart, but it still fell down. He does not know why.

The father and son try to stand the motorbike up. The son tries to start but fails. He tries hard to pedal, it does not work.

So angry, he shouts loudly at the mountain.

He checks the fuel tank.

– Oh, it is out of gasoline.

– Out of gasoline?

Yesterday the seller gave only one liter. Driving from the commune to Ngoc’s, then going home was too far away. Also having to drive up this steep and bumpy and slope, it must run out of gasoline.

Father thinks that out of gasoline, his son has to take the motorbike to school. If taking home like this, it cannot stand. The road has become less steep, but the son will not be easy to take alone.

The son thinks this way “Can’t pick Ngoc with this situation…”

Di comes to get the motorbike after school. Father intends to leave. He said that waiting him to bring Ngoc’s and then coming back to pick father later. Father is in surprised. He tries to say something but silent.

The motorbike seller said: “If you drive a lot like that with twenty thousand for gas in the morning, it will run out of gas tomorrow.”

But now, it must have money to to get gasoline. Father does not bring money. There are only more than a hundred thousand at home. That is enough to buy gasoline a few more days. Then he will have to sell some chickens to have money buying gasoline for his son to school. Father asked the seller sells on credit twenty thousand gasoline so that the son can have enough gasoline to drive to school tomorrow morning.

The son told his father to sit in the back of the motorbike, hold tightly, and enjoy to be drove. The wind passes ears and head. He drives so fast that scares father. The son screams, motorbike must go fast, not horses that go slowly. Father is afraid that would be fell scratched the motorbike. He shouts “Only when the gasoline is out then it stops suddenly so that the motorbike falling.” He races fast on the inter-commune road. Now the road is beautiful, speeding up for pleasure. Later, driving on the bad road, it must drive slowly, it’s boring.

Father sits at the back, trying to hold tightly and thinking about a girl would feel happy with skirt flying. Father thinks the children now are happier than their parents used to be, so it’s worth to buy the motorbike.

The motorbike racing so fast. It rushes down the cliff.

As soon as father realized, nothing could do…

The son is not dead yet. The whole body is covered with a red, so painful. He could not be moveable….

Everyone tries to take the father up. He is broken and red like the motorbike.

The son lies on the ambulance and still sees his father, who has no chance to see the motorbike driving his daughter-in-law.

Now the son can only think “Parents owe their son a daughter-in-law. The son owes his parents a buffalo.

Now father needs the son to pay a buffalo to do funeral that will never be able to pay back.


(Translated into English by HFT)

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