Entry 1 Today, Yang Cher said we can go for interviews in a few days. We may be leaving for America before next year. Mai is very sick, and in America my son will help us get a better shaman to chase the angry spirit out of her body. Yang Cher told us we need to learn American. Mai will learn the American language, but “why do I need to learn English when I have Mai to help me?”
Entry 2 Now that we are in America, all I want is to go back to Laos. Here “I am always too cold, and everything is so busy that nobody pays attention to me, and everything is plastic and too fast”. The roads are hard, and I cannot see the stars. They try to make me learn American ways, but I will always be Hmong, and Laos will always be my homeland.
Entry 3 Everything here in America has angered the spirits. They are hiding in everything, and when they are disturbed, they wail their anger at the skies. In the morning, one woke up and began wailing at smoke and burned rice. My son fixed it for us, but I will not trust it again. There is also a box that has an evil spirit living inside of it, and the spirit makes noises and strange pictures. This box is entertaining to watch, which must be why my son keeps it. Many things here cannot be trusted.
Entry 4 Today we went to the market to sell our pa’ndau. Mai went on a shopping trip with her cousins, and she spent too much money on clothes. At the marketplace where many people were selling them, my son was going to tell us the prices, but he did not come, so we sold them for not enough money. The other women were angry because we took away business. We did not earn as much money as we should have. I am afraid. I have always been able to bargain. If I cannot bargain and sell, what can I do?
Entry 5 Mai’s English teacher is a Hmong, and she is a woman, though a woman working is common in America. Mai’s teacher says Mai is a good student. Mai’s English is very good, that is why I need her so much. Afterwards, Mai’s friends danced a Hmong dance. “It was so beautiful I almost cried”. But after the dance, I saw some women pointing and whispering. “In the bright lights, it felt as if they were shredding my so joyful, skin”. Mai and I left then, and went to sleep very early.
Entry 6 Heather, with her hair like a tiger and her American boyfriend, Heather has had a fight with her father. She has chosen the ways of the Americans above the ways of her family. She knew that the Hmong traditions demand you obey your father and respect your elders, but she does not seem to care anymore. It is good that she has left. She was rude and wild, and she was a bad influence on Mai.
Entry 7 They have put me in the hospital. They do not think a shaman is good enough. They are saying I have problems with my heart, and that I may die. I do not think dying is such a bad thing. Mai is with my son, and he will take care of her. She is such a wonderful girl. I feel sorry for some of the times when I was so harsh to her. I wish I could tell her, but I am so tired… so tired… I hope she will know.
Grandma died at age 81 on August 24rd, 1993 She left behind a son and his family, as well as a granddaughter. She will be remembered with love.