Readers' Submissions

Delightful SE Asia – Girlfriends’ Golden Tales



Snake
— Sa Dec province, Southern Vietnam, late 70ies —
Of course we do NOT eat snakes! Of course! What do you think of us?! But you know, one time we had a snake in the garden. Father had to kill the snake anyway. So mother made a good snake soup for us. Of course! Hmmm, that was a nice breakfast!

Frog
— Sa Dec province, Southern Vietnam, late 70ies —
You know, back in the late seventies, we were very very poor. Many times, not so much too eat. In the night, big sister took me with one hand and a big torch with the other hand. We went around the rice fields and caught frogs; many frogs. We brought them home in a big cotton bag. Hmmm, mother made a nice frog breakfast!

Teacher
— Phnom Penh, Cambodia, in the 80ies —
I wanted to go into the same class with my friends from our street. But they put us into different classes! So after school, the three of us – about eight years old – we walk to the teacher's house. He just has lunch with his family. He asks: "What do you want?" His wife asks: "Are you hungry, children? Please eat some rice." We answer: "Awkhun cheran, we are not hungry, but we want to be together in one class."

Teacher answers: "In one class? That is not possible. Please go back to your families." But we are not happy with that answer. We stay outside the teacher's house and play rope skipping on the street. Around 5 pm teacher comes out and asks: "You still stay here? WHY?" We answer: "So sorry, teacher! We would like to be in one class together." His wife looks from the door. He says: "You sure? Hmm, tomorrow you meet me in school, and bring your schoolbooks. We go to the headmaster."

Next day we meet, we go to headmaster – and we all come into one class, all three of us!

King 1
— Phnom Penh, Cambodia, in the 80ies —
Thousands of pupils had to stand still in long rows and watch King Sihanouk being driven past us. Thousands and thousands of school children had to stand still for him – in the blaring midday sun! We had no school lessons on days like that. I did not like to stand still for the king in the blaring sun. So I went away, walked around town while everybody else paid saluted to the king. I thought, Sihanouk will not be angry if I walk away – there are so many others to wave at him.

I did this many times – instead of parading for Sihanouk I walked around town, down Monivong Boulevard or somewhere. Teachers never blamed me for that.

Functionary
— Sa Dec province, Southern Vietnam, in the 80ies —
Thousands of pupils had to stand still for a government parade in the blaring sun – starting at 11 am! Some boring provincial functionary talked and talked and talked for hours about our wonderful victorious nation blahblah – and we all had to stand still in the blaring sun! You know, we school girls had to wear the traditional ao dai dress – that is soooo hot, it is so tight around the neck and around the arms, and you have double layers of silk or polyester over your legs.

He talked and talked and talked and we stood there in the hot midday sun without water or shadow. One girl died.

Mouse
— Sa Dec province, Southern Vietnam, in the 80ies —
One time we had mice on the coconut palm in our plantation. You know coconut mice? They climb up and destroy all the coconuts. They can sleep up there. So we quickly called the coconut mice service. They climbed up on the coconut trees and removed all the mice.
What we paid for them? Of course nothing! Now they had some kilos of delicious coconut-fed mice to eat already!

Shit
— Phnom Penh, Cambodia, early 80ies —
Sometimes we had water in the streets, high to my chest. That was wonderful to play in that water! Good memories! And you know, back then we had no toilets, but many empty houses in Phnom Penh. So for toilet, we just went to an empty house.

When the water in the streets was so high, I played and swam in the streets. And then, you know, something from "open house toilet" comes swimming there and touches me!
So today, when you kiss me everywhere, remember what had touched my skin on the flooded streets!

Dog
— Nong Khai province, Thailand, in the 90ies —
My husband wanted me to attend the party they had in the company that afternoon. I told him "no, I am busy at home, I really don't want to go". So he went alone.

When the party was on already, a colleague of my husband comes to my house. She insists I join the party, everybody was missing me, she said. Hmmm, how can I say No here! So I walk over to the company complex with her. Everybody is sitting around a big table and looking at me full of expectation.

I sit down, I get a dish, and they have this very nice curry there, full of chili, very good smell, hmmm. But then on my fork I see beef. I try a few bites, I like it, but I ask: "Why you put beef and chili into curry?"

They smile and say "this is small beef". Oh my god, then I know this is *dog* already!
I get up quick and say to husband, "no need to come home tonight". He knows VERY clearly I don't want to eat *dog*. Then I rush home.

Husband comes home later and drunk. I tell him to sleep in the other room. So he does. For some days I cannot touch him or make love – because I know he ate dog already. When holding him, I still see *dog* inside him.

Gunfire
— Kraties Province, Cambodia, in the 90ies —
I just talk to the neighbors across the street, when I see gunfire coming out from my house! Oh, from the ground floor, there are Khmers Rouges shooting at somebody, I think at government police. And my two children sleep in the first floor!!! Oh, oh, oh!! I know, this house can burn down soon. I see it every day.

I run back around the fireline, I run upstairs, it is so noisy with the shooting, but the children sleep. I have to carry them down in my arm.

The shooting gets wild, wild, wild, we will all go up in fire soon! I have to carry them both, but I know, I can carry only one at a time. Which baby to take first?!! I try to carry them both, heave them into my arms, they moan, they cry, I hear more shooting from downstairs, I push through the apartment door, into the hallway, more shooting, I can walk a few steps, babies too heavy, I stumble, something is bursting down there, smell of fire and flesh and smoke, oh, oh, oh, one baby falls down from my arms, oh, rolls down the stairs –

Gynaecologist
— Kraties Province, Cambodia, in the 90ies —
Back then the ladies's doctor had no electricity in the daytime. And of course we were all SO shy! WHY do they have only men for ladies doctor??

So I sit on the gynaecologist's chair, naked, but I cover my body with a sarong. Oh, I don't like! The ladies' doctor crawls under the sarong to check me down here… you know… Then he comes back out from the sarong, because he sees nothing under the cotton. So he puts a torchlight into his mouth, turns torchlight on, and dives back under the sarong, biting into his torchlight, to check me here with torchlight.

King 2
— Phnom Penh, Cambodia, in the 90ies —
No, I don't think all the little lights on the Royal Palace are kitschy. It's ok, I can see them. Back in the 90ies, I didn't like the lights, I was angry with king: When he turned on all the lights around his palace, most houses in Phnom Penh were cut off from electricity for hours. No TV, no electric light!

Pee 1
— Kraties Province, Cambodia, today —
My young brother, he tickled me so hard, so much, I could not stop, I could not hold, I made water – into my trousers, onto the floor! I said, Brother! Now you must clean my trousers, and you must clean the floor. But he did not want.
So I said, Brother! You clean the floor, I clean the trousers. And so we shared the job.

Pee 2
— Nong Khai province, Thailand, today —
When I come home to my family, we all sleep in the big room upstairs – more cool air there! So father, mother, young sister, young brother, me and my son, we all sleep upstairs on the first floor.

In the night, maybe we need toilet. But toilet far away, you know! So we have some pots for to make water in the night. No, stupid question, not just one pot for all of us!! We have three pots to make water: Mother and father share one pot, young sister and young brother share one pot, and I share one pot with son.

Yes, sometimes I wake up when I hear somebody making water in the night.

Sometimes in the morning, when we eat rice together, we joke about that: Oh, last night mother made water so strong!

Stickman's thoughts:

It looks like Dana's coming out of retirement convinced another prolific writer to do the same.