By Sundra Lam
“Chào mẹ” I said as I walked by my mother,
the usual aroma of cá chiên-fried fish and rice filling the room.
The floors felt damp, soaked in pine-sol and dishwater.
who cleaned the floors with her working hands and feet
after chopping the heads of fish
my father lined up
whose eyes were red
from the 2 a.m. to 2 p.m. shift on the waves
with cracked hands and body reeking of the sea.
When I was young,
I felt shame —
my friends’ parents were lawyers or managers,
occupations society would consider real jobs.
I’ve never felt proud;
I was ashamed of my parents’ way of living.
Felt as if we were not good enough
to be seen as hard-working Americans ,
And not seen as uneducated, lazy, and just as immigrants.
My parents didn’t have the opportunity to receive a good education.
They endured backbreaking labor and the smell of the sea
to send my sisters and me to college, to achieve the American Dream,
that they didn’t have a chance to get.
To my friends the fish smelled horrendous,
but to them that smell meant money and opportunity.
The pain they had to physically endure was for us,
So that our family could have a better life in America.
I now realize how much they sacrifice for our family.
I am proud to be
A fisherman’s daughter