The river near the Mekong delta runs shallow and wide; alluvial soil sometimes gets deposited by the currents to form new islands, popping up like coconuts dropped in water, making small plots for trees to grip and grow. Islands can get covered also, submerging when the water changes its mind and alter its path over the years, or suddenly, drastically, after strong storms and floods.
Being a bachelor in his thirties is not unusual in American culture. In Vietnam that same aged bachelor status will get gasps of shock followed by a barrage of questions. Whenever I visit my father’s family home on a river island in Ben Tre, where the water runs shallow and wide to form the Mekong Delta, my status immediately becomes the hot topic, with matchmaking and suggestions for finding women (good and bad) making the rounds of my relatives’ animated discussions.