Reincarnated Love: A Journey Across Lifetimes

Short Stories

This is the story of my life. I am currently 45 years old. When I was 18, I met a girl named Hli (let’s call her that). Hli and I lived in a heavily Hmong-populated city in California. We dated for two years.

I first met Hli at the local flea market, where she was helping her parents sell vegetables. I normally didn’t frequent the veggie stalls, but that morning my mom had asked for some Hmong mustard greens. As I checked around, their stall had the best-looking bunches, so I picked out three. She came by and asked if I had been helped. I replied no and told her I would like the three bunches I had picked. She bagged the veggies for me and handed me the bags. When I reached for them, it felt like time stopped. We looked into each other’s eyes; hers shined beautifully and innocently. It was the sweetest look I had ever seen. In that moment, it felt like our souls intertwined, communicating without words. My heart raced, my face turned red, and my hands froze, not wanting to let go. We completed the transaction; I paid her three dollars and walked away.

I walked a few aisles beyond their stall, then stopped and thought about what had just happened. It felt like one of those moments you see on TV, with the good voice on one shoulder and the evil voice on the other. The good voice told me to go home because my mother was waiting for her veggies, while the evil voice told me to man up and go back to ask the girl for her name and information. I must have stood there with my eyes closed, thinking for about 30 minutes before deciding. I couldn’t pass on the chance to unite with my soulmate because that’s how it felt.

I walked back to her family’s stall and stood around to see if she was still there. This time, I only saw her parents. My heart dropped; a tear fell from each of my eyes. I realized the opportunity had passed me by. Disappointed, I turned and made my way toward the parking lot, my head down to shield my teary eyes from the public. As I turned a corner to exit the flea market, I bumped into someone—specifically, bumped heads. “Ouch!” I said, kneeling to recover. I rubbed my forehead, still in pain with my eyes closed, trying to absorb it. I felt two soft hands on either side of my face and heard a voice say, “I’m sorry, it was my fault, I didn’t mean to bump into you.” I looked up with one eye open and my heart almost stopped. I fell backward because I couldn’t believe it was HER! Embarrassed, I picked myself up and apologized. In my mind, I thought, how could I be so clumsy?

It was an awkward moment for both of us, but we managed to talk. I told her I had bought mustard greens from her stall and was now going home. She said she had returned to their van to grab a box of plastic bags because they were running out at the stall. I asked for her name, and she told me, “Hli.” I told her my name was Toua and asked if I could call her sometime. She said yes and gave me her number.

Our first phone conversation was that evening. We talked for seven hours, discussing our lives. It felt so comfortable and good, almost unexplainable. By the time we finished, we both believed we were soulmates. Hli and I continued talking for two weeks before I asked her out. On our first date, we went to San Francisco. We drove to the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge and up along the cliff side to the highest point. It was a cold, cloudy day. We held each other, face to face, leaning against my driver’s side door, looking out into the ocean. We were the only ones there. It was a beautiful moment; not a word was said, just the ultimate embrace of love. In that moment, I asked her to be mine and vowed to be hers forever. Nothing needed to be said.

Our relationship grew stronger over time. I eventually met Hli’s family, and she met mine. Her family was much larger than mine. It was just my mom and me because my dad was killed during the war. I was their only child, and my mother never thought about remarrying because she loved my dad so much.

Fast forward two years to 1987. We were both 20 and thought of officially marrying. I planned to ask her father for his blessing. Hli’s father told me this was the time to inform us that Hli was already arranged to marry her aunt’s son. I was devastated, asking why he didn’t tell me before. He said what he saw between me and Hli was just kids’ play. Hli’s father apologized and even blessed me, saying I was a good young man who would marry well one day. As for Hli, she belonged to someone else. Her father offered me one of Hli’s two younger sisters if I accepted. With tears in my eyes, I told Hli’s dad that I loved Hli and saw him as a father. Once Hli found out, she ran to her room. It wasn’t long before I poured my heart out to her dad, maybe 30 minutes. I asked her father for permission to say goodbye to her one last time. I didn’t know where her room was, so her dad took me. When we got to her door, her dad knocked and asked her to open for me. There was no answer. Her dad tried again, no answer. I tried, no answer. I then kicked the door a few times before it opened. We looked inside and found Hli in her closet; she had hanged herself. I grabbed her body and held her up while her dad released the rope. My world, Hli’s world, and her father’s all fell apart in that moment. He grabbed her and cried out for help. The rest of the house heard, her mother and sisters ran in, and her mother fainted. 911 was called, and EMS was dispatched. I no longer knew what to do. I was broken. I had to call my friend to pick me up because I wasn’t in the right state of mind to drive home.

When I got home, my mom was in the backyard tending to her garden. I went to her and fell down crying. She dropped her hoe and ran to me, asking what was wrong. Unable to speak and full of tears, I grabbed her tight like a little baby. My mom cried for me. We slowly made our way inside before I told her what happened. Having suffered so much already, with my father passing, my mom was at a loss too. She adored Hli and said Hli was the daughter she never had.

Two weeks later, Hli was laid to rest. I attended the entire service and her burial. Her father apologized and offered me one of his other daughters again. I told him I couldn’t do that to Hli, that she was my soulmate and there would be no one else. He accepted my thoughts and said if I ever needed help, he would be there for me.

I vowed not to love again until the next life where I’ll meet Hli again. Fast forward to 2007; since Hli’s passing, I completed my studies and had been working as an engineer. I was doing well for myself. I lost my mother in 2005 to cancer. I had everything in life but love. Shortly after my mother’s passing, Hli and my mother came to me in a dream. They were dressed in golden dresses and looked beautiful. In the dream, I was taken to a foreign land where I met them. Hli told me to look for her, that she had reincarnated and would be 20 years old. She said she reincarnated soon after her death to be with me again in this lifetime. I asked where to go, but she didn’t answer. Instead, my mother answered, saying, “Go to China, you’ll find her in a small village as the daughter of an elderly couple.” I reached out to hug them, and they disappeared. I woke up in a sweat, my heart racing. I asked myself why now? I had no idea what to do.

In the summer of 2007, I made preparations to go abroad. It had been two years since my dream. I figured, why not? What do I have to lose? I took a trip to southern China and traveled to the countryside where many Hmong live.

I went through many villages in the first two weeks but didn’t see anyone resembling Hli. During my third week, I saw a girl carrying water who looked just like Hli. I didn’t say anything, not knowing what to say.

The next day, I returned to the same spot to see if she would come to fetch water again. She did. Her face, hair, eyes, smile, and walk were all identical to Hli. I didn’t try to talk to her. The next day, same time, same place, I saw her again. This time, I went to the water well and talked to her. I asked her name, and she said, “Sui,” then returned to her duties. I stupidly thought to myself, let me say “Hli” and see what happens. I said “Hli,” and she stopped what she was doing and turned to look at me. I waved and smiled; she went back to her duties. I waited for her to fill her water containers and then helped her carry them. She didn’t let me at first but conceded after my persistence.

We walked to her home, and I met her parents, who looked to be in their late 60s. They invited me to stay for dinner and spend the night.

I told them I had some things to take care of but maybe another time. Sui went back outside, so I followed her. She went to grab some wood. Again, I helped where I could, and we spoke intermittently. She asked where I was from. I said America. We talked for about 30 minutes. As I began to leave, she ran behind me, tapped my shoulder, and asked why I called her Hli. Everything flashed before my eyes, my heart became heavy, and my eyes teared up. I asked her why she asked. She said when I said that name, she felt her body temperature rise like never before, and her memory flashed thoughts of a former life as a girl named Hli. I stood there and cried even more, falling to my knees and looking at her. She comforted me, placing her hands on my head just like Hli once did. I smelled her, and their scents were the same—a sweet, earthy, lively smell.

The next day, I asked Sui’s father for his blessing to announce our marriage. Time doesn’t wait for anyone; Sui was Hli reincarnated. I had found my love again. We married, and I came home after my stay and filed paperwork to bring Sui to America.

Sui came to America in 2008. We now have two wonderful children, a 2-year-old and a 1-year-old. I never thought I would be reunited with Hli again in this lifetime, but I never gave up my love for her.

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