Saturday, October 13, 2018

OctPoWriMo 2018 Day 12: Legacies

Today's theme was to explore how the feeling of being 'tortured' was a necessary part of love, and of growth in a relationship.

As usual, my brain decided to go off the beaten path, especially after reading this article on the outcast Vietnamese children of American soldiers - bui doi - left behind in the war, and the brutal impact on their lives. 

Bui doi means, literally, 'dust of life'. Dust. No dignity, worth nothing.

What happens when love means knowingly embracing a minefield that could blow at any time?


We always cut her hair so it stays short. So it doesn’t curl.
She’s never known what it’s like to have long hair like her sister.
She asks, but we tell her, don’t ask questions.
She’s a good girl. She studies hard.
Even then she comes home crying.
*Mẹ, mẹ, they threw stones at me again.
Why are they so mean to me, mẹ?

I can’t tell her they hate her because she is different
That her face gives her away.
That her skin is dark and her hair is curly
Because her father was an American soldier.

That her mother didn’t want her.

I wipe her tears away and tell her, they are just jealous.
Jealous of her long limbs and round eyes.
Jealous of how quickly she learns.

Bui doi don’t choose their face, their hair, their skin
Any more than they choose
To have their worth stripped away
Before they’re even born.

Every night, I watch her eight year old body curled up in bed with her sister
Her sister with long straight hair and a Vietnamese face.
One terrible day she will ask, and someone will tell her the truth.

I am terrified.

*Mẹ: ‘Mother’ in Vietnamese.


paeansunplugged said...

Aww! This is heartbreakingly beautiful. That an eight year old should face this.

Shuku said...

Thank you! It was a hard write, I had to stop to breathe a few times. Those children didn't choose their origins any more than they could choose the colour of their hair or skin, it's just heartbreaking to read their stories.

ms_lili said...

the children are always the ones who suffer

Shuku said...

It's criminal :/