The stout man swaggers down the impossibly narrow lane
Black hair, cropped short, white mask, tied tight.
He is unconcerned
With me, with the stray dog meandering by, with a task that demands little – but receives all – of his attention. An indifference to anything else. With precise intent, he drops the blue plastic bag lined with food scraps, containers, kleenex, just outside what must be his gate.
He pauses, arches his back just so, and his gaze reaches and lingers, just long enough, at the sky, as if to say
A trio of octogenarians. Abreast down the lane, framed neatly by the hanging ivy, green and blazing overhead. A slight limp slows the first, her left leg bending awkwardly. But they keep a steady pace. They are kin, somehow. Self-assured and resolute in their belief, together
A peek in the rearview. A wisp of a man emerges from a slotted metal gate. Tank top, short shorts. His striking eyebrows invite scrutiny. But he’s upstaged by his dogs. A tiny one, and then, somehow, a tinier one. Pugs, I think, waddling, just as one would expect tiny pugs to waddle down an impossible alley. He whistles after them as they trot ahead, purposeful ducklings, tracking mama. And, like their owner, they too, know what’s what
This city, like many in the world, has drawn in, backed off. Shuttered. Shut down.
But life, as it will, goes on.
Hanoi and its people know crisis. They’ve beaten back marauders, from near, and from far, for hundreds of years. Withstood them all. Replete, resplendent, resolute.
And here, yet again, now, an adversary knocks. A bully, here to cajole, to maraud, to threaten. And possibly to invade.
And here, yet again, now, these resilient and remarkable humans assert, with calm, assured confidence