Saturday, September 12, 2015

Children in the Fishing Village of Mui Ne

A young girl giving a baby boy a piggyback ride led my afternoon curiosity to their home. It was shortly after I resigned from guiltily taking photos of fisherfolk in their sun-soaked busyness, who not once flinched nor cared about the strangeness of a stranger with an intimidating barrel pointed to their preyed-on midst. They were too engrossed in their own world, a part of humanity that kept on looking down, literally, the whole time it seemed, while untangling and weaving long white fishing nets quietly, unlike the Mui Ne sea that was proud and never quiet. Some were barefoot, baked, and wet, standing beside huge basin-shaped boats I never thought would ever work at sea. Some were comfortably squatting down into cross-legged position inside a boat, under a makeshift shelter.

As I drew near the kids horsing around, I heard their amplified puerile giggles. They played their games, round and round inside their humble abode made out of wood, bamboos, coconut leaves, light materials, while holding hands. Of course. And the young girl caught my camera. She moved closer, stepped on their doorway, and there the piggybacking tandem posed for me, freely. The young girl grinned, while the young boy sported a confused face. Snap, snap, snap.

Suddenly, she gestured for me to get inside the bowels of their house. No utterance. No words. At the back, I met her sister. Her twin, maybe. The other girl held the baby boy this time and posed for my camera. Smiles. A peace sign. A sweet embrace. And then all three together, with their precious seashells gathered inside a basket.

I tapped their heads and then held the little boy. I thanked them. I heard no reply. Nothing. Still no words, but just their smiles.

I left their home. I waved goodbye. I was happy, elated about the kindness shown by those kids. But somehow, sadly, something had me disturbed. What if it wasn't me?  What if it wasn't me who crashed into that small house, not a safe haven to be at during bad weather, in an old fishing village in southern Vietnam? What if somebody, twice the charm, waved sweets in front of their faces or put dimes in their hands? Imagine, what if?


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