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‘Literature Major Diaries'

Post by: trangtrang | 08/09/2015 | 2343 reads

Lit Major Diaries: The Teacher, the Precious Three and 23 Coucals’ – ‘Book of Sweet Sixteen, Cynical Seventeen and Rebellious Eighteen’ – is the book that resonates well with its reader base of high school students; and those who had already done their time in the bastion of academia would find the book a lovely throwback into their own frantic high school days.

The Diary tells the story of our three years with the Litarature Class of ’95 – a generation of Amsers two decades older than us – the Lit Class of ’16, ‘17. But as the stories unravel, the 20-year gap slowly fasdes away, for what remains is the adorable innocence of students notwithstanding the test of time.

The Diary told the story of twenty years past, and to its readers – us – our own stories in our own present: the same backgrounds to our frantic antics, the same canvas for our wacky doodles. I find myself and my fellow classmates in the ‘23 coucals’. ‘A pure soul with a pinch of artistic sorrow, but through her veil of silence shines her smile.’ – not unlike our own Minh Ha, ‘short haired with tomboyish outfits and always up to mischief’ same as Yen, then there we find the ‘sad deep eyes with the thousand-yard stare’ of Vu Hang.

Then I find our form teacher who we lovingly call Mother Thuy in the book’s ‘Teacher’. The Teacher of yesteryears were sensitive to see the distinguishable characteristics of his mischievous students, to see the seeds of the future in the more rebellous of his subjects – and in the same way, Mother Thuy is understanding and never fails to see through our slightest of happiness and sorrow. The Teacher ‘from 1995, a hermit to the outside world. From inside his tower of ivory he has naught but one peep-hole, like one would have on your wall to see the sun: his bookshelf of literature works. You don’t really get peripheral vision through a peep-hole, much like you don’t really see the world defined in details. But you see a peculiar brand of hope and belief: there is something, something more, something more outside. And he knows that, he knows himself. And he knows his friends in his students...’; our own Mother Thuy teaches us to see the world through the bookshelf – she’s an avid reader whose woe is our lack of reading notwithstanding the fact that we are Lit Majors.

‘The Duo’ of our class is not unlike the Precious Three of 95’s class. One is as well-versed in litarature as the writer Nguyen Truong Quy himself – with an all-rounder touch, his occasional demonstration of martial prowess leaves the 39 of the girls in awe. Peculiar he is, mind, for he dons scarves and wool caps in summer ‘for fear of pneumonia’. The remainder is also ‘the diplomat’, but not the human landline between the 23 coucals and the other Precious Two, but the courier of the Lit and the Maths Majors. ‘Temperamental when you get on his wrong side. But well, as long as you compliment his gung-ho six-pack handsomeness’ then he immediately cools down. And in peril, he would without a doubt be the Jack, ‘letting go to let Rosa live’ – how more can our Duc be like the lawyer Pham Tri Trung in his 16 years!

Reading the Lit Major Diaries, I find it interesting that we Amsers have always been filled to the brim with explosive energy outside of academia, all work – all play. A spontaneous promenade in the gym, the ‘First Homosexual Marriage In The World’ – things that none but those of our own would think of twenty years ago. Now we find ourselves celebrating Boy’s Day and planning our very own Costume Party. Birds of a feather we are, time notwithstanding, for we are odd in the same way, in our own way.


And of course, the teenage angst, the hopeless romantics – sensations that adorn all students like an unexpected coming-of-age ritual. But to us Lit Majors (and especially to the Lit Girls), those heartthrobs are especially intense. Like our predecessors who wallows in the pain of heartbreaks and high school ‘love’, we constantly go to Mother Thuy to deposit our worries: ‘Mom, I’m worried sick... he’s doing his competition’. Those who worried incessantly about their future in twenty years from the past now rest on the triumphs of their youth and on their own pinnacles of success.We, young adults, intern designers of our own future, look to each other with the same question: ‘where do you see us in twenty years’ time?’ – will it be that one day I may look back and reminisce the olden days, safe and sound in happiness and success, with the company of my friends?

Reading from their writings, I remember the words by Van: ‘Our class is interesting, each and every of our idiosyncrasies entangle into a beautiful mess, filled with life and joy.’. The invisible threads connecting the heart and mind of generations of Amsers suddenly feel tangible and real to me – and for all us Lit Majors. They all fostered an insatiable wanderlust for the fields of literature, and in the beautiful mess of those years one may not simply ignore the worries of schoolwork – evident in the ‘synchronised beating of 26 hearts’ during tests.

The book has captured the affinition of many students who are excited to visit and revisit the Literature Class of olden days, to relive the moments of long-gone school days with memories long forgotten.

Pham Phuong Mai (Lit Class of ’14) commented: ‘The book makes me laugh by myself even though it has no coherent plot, with inconsistent presentation and writing style - but I can’t put it down. I am proud to be a Literature Major, an Amser... I hope that the book will reach more people, because it is not just for us Lit Majors or just for Amsers – you will find yourself in this if you have ever been a high school student – you will find a younger, dreamy and innocent you.’

‘Not just a story about a special class, but the sincere voice of a generation’ – wrote a journalist about the book. And I am confident that this generation’s esprit de corps has not died, but rather found it’s continuation among us, Lit Majors of today, who walk the path trod by those twenty, thirty years ago. We remain the same with our colourful personalities and style – fused with the essence of Hanoi and especially the Amsers’ spirit. We are proud to be Literature Majors, and I believe that we will always keep our love – our love for Literature, our love for Ams.

Reporters:  Phương Linh – Literature 1417

Thanh Hải – Literature 1316

Photo source:  Amsers' Instagram

Translator: Minh Duc - English 1316