The mother-daughter bond is considered the strongest, most beautiful and sensitive of the parent-child bonds. Yet, no matter how close they are, every daughter, at some point in life, vehemently vows never to become like her mother. Our love-hate relationship is no different, but if there’s anything I’d like to be, it’s to be as bold and fearless as my mother.
She was turning 80. Living a life of extreme hardship with utter fearlessness, indomitable willpower, and selfless service, my mother deserved a grand celebration. Being a religious soul with a keen interest in history, she had always desired to visit Angkor Wat in Cambodia, but her debilitating leg muscles wouldn’t allow her to walk the vast expanse of the temple. So, we decided to visit Vietnam, a country with a blend of traditional and modern culture, history, and ethereal natural beauty. Keeping her comfort in mind, we limited the travel to parts of North Vietnam, starting with the capital city of Hanoi.
At first sight, Hanoi seemed uncannily familiar. Almost like home, back in Kolkata. The cantilever bridge that resembled Vidyasagar Setu in my hometown, the roads, the humidity in the air, and the overall unkempt look of the city—it was an overwhelming sense of déjà vu. It didn’t feel like I was in a different city, as Hanoi wrapped me in its warm embrace—like my mother does—and made me feel at home.
Despite the din and buzz of a typical modern city, there was something rustic about Hanoi. The street-side food stall owner, the flower woman on the cycle, the chattering children walking back from school, people travelling in rickshaws—all of them bore testimony to a simple life, and everyone sported a smile that exuded a sense of calm. The peaceful look on their faces wiped away my frowns. Is it that easy to be happy? This thought stayed with me the entire journey.
Over 1600 small limestone islets and islands make up the natural beauty of Ha Long Bay
The next day, we went for an overnight cruise on Ha Long Bay, 165-kilometre east of Hanoi, and perhaps, the most picturesque part of Vietnam and our trip. More than 1600 small limestone islets and islands make up the natural beauty of Ha Long Bay, enticing travellers from all corners of the world. Mother, despite her aching legs, slowly, yet bravely, climbed the stairs to the deck. There we both sat in silent meditation, as the ship ambled past the tiny islands, while the great ball of fiery orange melted gently into the calm aquamarine. As I admired the majestic view, the gusty winds blew away every ounce of stress from my body and cast it off into the deepest part of the emerald waters, and the serenity of the ocean transcended all the noise within me.