Vietnam, August 2015
“Em Oi” is what you call to a person (younger than you) in Vietnam. I haven’t realised this since Ive had this shameful story of mine. I was living in a budget hotel in Hai Phong City (Quan Nam Hotel, I guess the only quality hotel where the staffs speak English) and there’s this young guy, a receptionist slash helper who is always present when you need him. We’re smiling when we are seeing each other and we’re always greeting “Xin Chao” and a short conversation like “how are you?” “I’m fine, thank you and you?”. He knows my name and where I am from, what am I doing in Vietnam and who my friends are. Also, he knows the time when I am back home and my morning schedules when I am going to work. I always find my room arranged to the extent that Ive had always a new set of towel, rolls of tissues and a clean, bright floor.
For two months of us chatting with each other everyday, time came that I must go. I told him three days before I plan to leave and he was undeniably sad. He did not smile at me no more, and I didn’t see him in the lobby those days. My room has the same mess when I leave it in the morning and no one welcomes me at the hotel door when I am back at night.
The day that I have to go, he was there, standing and smiling again. I told him that I must leave and maybe some day I might come back again. He sent me wishes and asked me a question that I’ll never forget all my life.
“Kate, do you remember my name?” He asked with a hopeful eyes.
“Of course I do! Your name is Em Oi”
He was shocked and almost cried!!
“I hate you!”, he said and I was extremely ashamed that I knew all along that “Em Oy” is his name! He still has forgiven me though and we said good luck to each other as he entered in the hotel laughing.
His name is Zhuong by the way.
*His picture is not posted here because of some privacy issues. I’ve written this story to sincerely apologize to all our Em Oi, in behalf of all the foreigners living in Vietnam forgetting or having a hard time pronouncing and even remembering their names. Peace all*