A TRUE STORY                                                       

    My 5 year old son whispered : - Water, I want water!... I hardly moved my hand, tried to caress his face  comforting him : - Hold on honey, I'll get you water, ok!...Then I fell unconscious. I did not know about the time, I heard that sound again : - I'm thirsty, I'm thirsty!...
      That was the third day on the boat, we did not have anything to eat or drink. Couldn't stand it anymore, one man tried to drink seawater. As soon as it got into his stomach, he threw up and later on he was very sick.
The next day, children seemed very quiet and slept. Fortunately, dark clouds appeared in the sky and minutes later it was rain. People woke up immediately, we tried to drink as much as we could. Men looked for everything to use as containers to store water. We felt so much better, hoping lives returned!
     It was still raining heavy and heavier, the boat started to flood. Then I heard some voices : - Oh no! the boat is going to sink, it's too much water, too heavy! We got so scared and started moving, making the boat unbalanced, seawater poured in  it. We quickly threw some of our belongings away, bailed out water as fast as we could. Finally, the rain stopped and water we saved for future used was all gone!!!
     Two more days passed, everybody got weaker, no one moved or said a word! It was quiet and peaceful! Suddenly, a man screamed : - I see a boat over there!... Like magic, we energetically got up and looked to where he pointed his finger. We saw a boat! Everybody was so grateful, we used all kinds of cloth, towel, t-shirt to wave and scream. The boat looked like approaching us closer and closer but when we saw it clearly, we started to be afraid because there was a fishing boat with more than a dozen mean looking men, dark skin, carrying weapons, speaking Thai language loudly.
When that boat was next to ours, they signaled us to get on their boat, our little boat was empty. Some of them jumped on it starting to search our luggages, they took everything they liked! When they finished searching, we were returned back to our boat and they left.
Hours later, another boat appeared. When it got close to us, five men jumped on our boat and started searching again. They also took some clothes we were wearing. Then they told everybody faced down, undressed two teenage girls and took turn raping them for hours. I was so terrified, held my son tightly in my arms and totally shook!  We heard the girls cried for help, but we were helpless! What a shame!!!  Later on, they left.
     It  was dark and silent! The girls stopped crying, we stayed numb, no speaking but " oh! God " was the only sound from anyone, sometimes!
Far away, the moon started to show up in the skyline, seawater reflected moonlight according to the waves and their sounds creating a traumatic image.
Next morning, another boat came and repeated the same actions to the girls. We now had nothing to rob but women to rape!
     Last boat came to us, the men were a bit kinder. They first gave us food, water and kept a brief distance from us. Until the next day, they began to rob carefully. They searched everyone's mouth, hair, underwear, everything they thought it's valued. Then each of them picked one woman to rape!
By that time, I thought of my father who passed away years ago, I always believe his spirit has watched over his children to protect them, and I prayed to him. When the guy picked me I was shaking, my son cried, tried to pull me with his little weak hands. I did not cry but showed the fear on my face! Somehow, that touched the man's feeling, he released  me...
After finishing the actions, we got on their boat, they sank our boat, took us to the Kho Kra island and they left.
     We felt much better! At least not to die in the ocean. That was a small, beautiful island with green grass, a little stream ran across the mountains through the forest, blue waves repeatedly hit the shore, water moved onto the white sand beach and then retreated in a continuous cycle.
We were weak and tired, some of us went to get water, others laid on the ground, the two teenagers seemed very ill. Then we went to clean ourselves in water with clothes on  and wore wet clothes afterward. We absolutely had nothing but empty hands!
When the night came, we gathered closer, felt the heat from each other and slept on the ground.
Around noon the next day, another boat showed up, the women were so afraid   running to hide under bushes, between rocks, in small caves. Did not matter if there were snakes, spiders, scorpions... Then they kept returning to look for women day after day.
Later on, the Thai Navy showed up, they brought us food and drink, also told us they would rescue us soon.
     Three days before I left the island, the fishermen brought in another group that was about 30 people. A young man got burned his entire body, he was unconscious laying on the ground. Then I saw a man sitting on the rock far away from the group looking out at the ocean. I came to him trying to make friends, and found out that his girlfriend was abducted!
We left the island after being there for a week, taken to the refugee camp in Songkla, South Thailand. Staying in Songkla for a while, I had been told many horrible stories of the journeys, the high price to pay for freedom. Also learned that Kho Kra island was the hide out of the fishermen where they tortured, raped, and killed many people.
     Coming to the USA in July 1981, three months later I got a letter from my sister to inform that my older brother, his wife and two children left Vietnam a few weeks ago. I was happy that I would reunite them, also worried for them on their way.
But I did not wait too long for the bad news, he was killed on the boat just two days after leaving Vietnam, left behind a wife and two boys, a 5 year old and an 8 month old.
My heart ached! I surely imagined how he lost his life although I did not witness the incident. 
In early 1982, I got another letter from my father-in-law letting me known that his 12 year old son left the country recently. I could not describe the opposite feelings inside of me by knowing that.
However, I never got any news, good or bad from him. The entire boat disappeared! I tried to contact the families whose relatives were on that boat, but they knew nothing like me, still waiting and waiting.... for the news!!!
      We have been waiting for that boat for 18 years, but the boat has gone forever!  No one knows the truth of its disappearance.

*********************** USA June 1999*************************

The unforgettable escapeRisking lives for freedomTell me what you think


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