Tong Thomson Ng
Biography of „The tale of KIEU‟
The Written Friendship
It is rare to have a faithful and supporting friend who helps us all the while no matter how many obstacles we have in a lifetime, and Giac Duyen is the one in The Tale of Kieu. Giac Duyen, a Buddhist nun who first meet Kieu at a Buddhist Church when Kieu is on the way of fleeing from Miss Hoan, has become the most important role for Kieu.
The first image of Giac is described as a kind-hearted prioress just like a girl. She kindly let Kieu to go into the Buddhist Church when she first sees Kieu in plain monastic grab. And she has no doubt when Kieu introduces herself with skirting around the truth. Then, she receives a golden bell and silver gong from Kieu as gifts and lets Kieu to stay for a season. Until one day, a pilgrim comes to the Church and identifies that those two gifts belonged to Miss Hoan. Giac finally starts to suspect Kieu as a thief, and requests to know the truth. By the way, when she is told the truth by Kieu and discovers the tale of Kieu, she starts to grow her faint that she decides to help Kieu in all possible ways. “The Buddha‟s gate is open wide to all. But things I can‟t
foresee are what I dread. I‟d sorely grieve if something struck you here. Plan far ahead and flee –
you‟d be unwise to sit here and wait till waters reach your feet, (Du, 2073)” she gives the most
faithful suggestion to Kieu. Moreover, she asks a neighbor to provide shelter for Kieu in order to help her out from Miss Hoan.
Giac then meets Kieu again after Kieu flees from Miss Hoan successfully and later marries to a General. She shows up as an honored guest who has helped Kieu in the past and is asked for
award. But she wants to leave from Kieu again since she meets a prophetess before who says that she and Kieu will meet once again within five years because of destiny. She also agrees to ask about Kieu‟s future if she meets that prophetess again.
Later on, Giac does meet the prophetess again, and she keeps the promise to ask about Kieu‟s
future. “On balance every action weighs and counts. When judged for her past sins, Kieu must be charged with reckless love, but not with wanton lust... (Du, 2680)”, the prophetess says.
Therefore, Giac decides to stay at Ch‟ien-t‟ang in order to save Kieu someday. Fortunately, the
prophecy comes true, and she saves Kieu successfully by her fishermen when Kieu tries to commit suicide by drowning herself because of marrying a man that she doesn‟t love. They meet
each together again in exactly five years as the prophetess said before which is a wonderful and joyful reunion. And Giac receives a newly-built temple as a gift from Kieu finally which ends up with a happy ending.
Giac Duyen, as the most supporting role of Kieu, helps her to overcome countless obstacles in her lifetime. I will say it is the destiny. Without such an important friend to encourage and support her, Kieu wouldn‟t have such a legendary and dramatical life. Therefore, we should
always cherish our friends if we do have some friends like this because it is written and rare in your whole lifetime, just like Giac Duyen and Kieu.
Du, Nguyen. The Tale of KIEU. Trans, Huynh Sanh Thong. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1983. And worked with Rodrigo Jiminez, Wai Lok Choi, Hiu Wa Tong, Rida Memon and Crystal.