Once upon a time, there lived a couple and a baby. When the man
was sent by the army to a distant guard-post, the woman worked
in the fields and raised their baby by herself.
One night, a storm shook the house. The child cried, ?I?m scared,
Mama, I?m very skee-er-ed.?
The mother got up to light the oil lamp. When she saw her own
shadow, she had a flash of inspiration. "Look, baby, there?s Papa!"
she pointed to the shadow on the wall. "Papa?s here to protect
you. Now sleep, baby, sleep.?
?Skee-e-red, Mama? became the cue for their nightly ritual. The
mother would light the lamp. The toddler would hold his hands
in front of his chest, bow and say ?Night night, Papa? to the
shadow on the wall.
One morning, the husband returned. Overjoyed and suddenly
bashful, the wife dashed out to buy a live chicken to thank their
ancestors and to celebrate. The man sat down and hugged his
son to his chest: ?Say hello to Papa. Give Papa a kiss.?
The three-year old pushed him away: ?No, you are not my Papa.
My Papa comes only at night. I say ?Night night Papa? before I go
The father was so hurt and angry that he left. The mother returned
to find her son alone on the floor. She waited three days and three
nights for her husband, but he did not return. On the fourth day,
she threw herself into the river.
The man heard about the suicide and came back to care for his son.
When he lit the kerosene lamp one night, the child held his hands
in front of his chest, bowed, and said ?Night night, Papa? to his
father?s shadow on the wall.
Popular Vietnamese Legend