RICKSHAW GIRL and a Mother's Day Tribute

I recently received a poem from a reader of my book Rickshaw Girl who said that the main character in the story, Naima, reminded her of her mother. I asked for permission to post it on my blog in honor of Mother's Day, and here it is:

by Katherine Nguyen

With your long black hair
Fingers like a brush
You draw an alpina
The work of an artist

Young and free
In a world so narrow           
You fly like the wind
Pave the way to a new tomorrow

Your hopes and dreams
Are like blue skies and rainbows
Colorful, pure, and hopeful
Painting the world, one stroke at a time

With your hair tucked in
The fa├žade of a boy, inside truly a girl
You embody a woman
Strong, independent, beautiful

Unsure of your success
Remembering your mother’s bracelet
You hold onto that memory
Cannot let go, will not forego

Life without a family
A vision you cannot see
Determined for a better tomorrow
Change and you will be free

Withstanding all stereotypes
Going off into the unknown
You face the bleakness of reality
Standing up for your rights on a road so narrow

With a smile on your face
Eyes bright as the sun
You win the heart of the Rickshaw owner
A new life you have earned

Amidst adversity
Up against a mountain of challenges
You rise so high
Took a chance, broke all the barriers

Lessons learned
Climb that mountain, however so high
You’ll never know unless you try
Love and perseverance is all it takes

Impossible it may seem
To risk it all for just a twinkle of hope
You, Naima, are the vision for us to follow
The face of a child, the ambition of a woman, the future of a society

Here's what Katherine has to say about her mother:
My mother, like my grandmother, is a very strong and determined woman. As a child growing up in a family with very little means, she went out to work with all the men in the village, doing whatever they did, trying things that no other girl would try, getting down and dirty to make money to help support her family. 
It was a hard life, trying to set up her own business at a time when the war was going on and girls had no place out of the home. She overcame it all, the obstacles, the stereotypes, the name calling, and became the woman she wanted to be. 
She escaped Vietnam and came to the U.S. because she knew only here would she be able to live the life she always dreamed of and give back to her family so they, too, could overcome all the oppression. It was her way to end her suffering, and she did. 
My mother has done the impossible, with two bare hands, raising two daughters on her own and achieving the American dream.

Happy Mother's Day to Katherine's Mom, mine, and all the mothers on the planet who take courageous risks and make costly sacrifices for our sakes.