9/17/07

Body Eats

The word mình, body, has wide application in Vietnamese. It is sometimes used as a first person pronoun, as in “body has lived here for a long time,” or “body does not know him.” Body is I. It is also we or us. As in: “Body eat rice; they eat bread.” Body is also used to address one’s spouse. As in: “Body, what would you like to eat today?”

A spouse can also be referred to as “my house.” As in: “My house is not home at the moment. Please call back later.” To be married is to live in a new house, to be engulfed in another body.

The core of the Vietnamese body is not the heart but the stomach. Instead of saying “I don’t know what’s in his heart,” a Vietnamese would say, “I don’t know what’s in his stomach.” To be content is to have a happy stomach, vui lòng. To be in grief is to have a rotting stomach, thúi ruột. To be in extreme anguish is to have one’s stomach chopped into pieces, đứt ruột.

Eating is the body’s primary function. Whatever else the body does, it must ăn, must eat. To dress is to ăn mặc, eat and dress. To talk is to ăn nói, eat and talk. To have sex is to ăn nằm, eat and lie down with somebody. To be married is to ăn ở, eat and live with somebody.

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1 comment:

Murat said...

Linh,

What you are saying here I think relates to what Mark and I were discussing in relation to your poem "How It Is," that the body has an ambiguous identity and can not be discuss purely, as Mark says, in terms of "the male gaze."

Ciao,

Murat