She stood at immense height. I swear that a male soldier in the distance holding a rifle trembled. He and another quickly disappeared over the bump of a small hill.
The women in white, as I found out later they were not nurses, turned and spoke in measured tones. Fear floated about their heads. White encased legs looked ready to bolt, as the soldiers.
Now it was my turn to flee. Hopping as fast as I could, I hid myself behind my mother’s legs. Grabbing the hem of the purple skirt, her favorite color, invisibility was wished for. My eyes closed might cause it to happen. It did not.
“Mother,” the bull of a woman spoke a little Bru. Though most of her words were not recognized by either mother or me, the idea became apparent.
“Forgive me…she is my baby…I could not bare to leave her.” Pauses highlighted my mother’s words. It caused no change in the stern and foreboding expression.
She wore the uniform of the North Vietnamese Army. It was trimmed in red. Though, that uniform was meant for all of the reunited country.
Since the end of the war of unification, they have wanted to be called Vietnamese, without a location stated. To my people, there forever will be two types of Vietnamese. The ones the Bru and the Green Hats aided and the other, the ones they killed. Her uniform being of the latter.
The green jacket looked the color of our American friends that were in an occasional picture hidden away by Bru for bittersweet memorie
One of the nurses yelled at me and shook her finger. I think it had to do with my outfit. Or lack of one.
The big woman continued to look in all directions. Blank stares would greet her gaze.
I continued in my attempt to enter my mother’s sarong. If only the slit at the hip was longer?
Then reality took hold of me.
A man speaking Bru told the women to line up. They would enter a truck and taken to the main clinic. The man explained to my mother that it would be impossible for her to care for me at the clinic. The situation was becoming tense, as the nurses were talking in their language with hostile tones that matched their looks.
My mother became angry, and said she wanted to go back home. The man pointed out the bonus offered for the free examination was already paid to her family and there would be no other choice.
As the adults argued, with sinister vocals from the two women in white, I felt my presence should be known.
The wail was earthshaking, or so the adults thought. I threw myself onto my mother’s leg, as there was a brief moment when during her tirade with the Bru speaking Viet man we were parted, by inches.
We all found out, why the bull of a woman was at the site.
Loud and direct, but not in a scream, the woman ordered the man to cease the discord. Telling him to translate, the obvious commander of the medical processing center talked with a calm but intense voice to the interpreter. Her bearing even curtailed my hysterics.
Mother was asked if she would agree for me to stay with the women in the female tent. Not a request welcomed by either mom or me. The bullish female snorted her words. Through the interpreter, she explained that there would be no transportation available. The elephant bellowed an insistence that I would be safe and cared for. I trembled at the thought, but my mother agreed. There was no other alternative.
As the truck pulled away, the massive hand of my new guardian pointed to the tent used by the nurses. The truck bumped along till disappearing into the jungle trail that would lead to the outskirts of Huế City. This was taken to me to be a cue. My loud blast of sorrow caused my belly to tighten. Amid cries for momma…momma, I felt an un-welcomed sensation. My stomach tightened from the raging spasms the hysteria was causing. It drew my stomach in. The space was all that was needed to free my loincloth that sped to the ground.
Cries of disgust and insults aimed at me, and all Bru women, saturated my head. The women in white were angry and hateful. One of them pulled at me, almost yanking my arm from my socket.
A young looking boy, with a machine gun, snickered at my distress. All this time the uniformed monster stood as a statue. Her fingers looked like skin colored tree trunks and her palm the size of a giant claw from a clutching hawk.
Then all sound stopped. My guardian turned to stare at the young women. Not a word was spoken, yet her demand for silence was heeded. Looking up at the eyes that were breathing fire to any in her path, I sniffled beneath her gaze.
No smile, or tender word or any acknowledgement of my existence was presented. I stood ready to faint, as she moved to my front.
In one swift movement my guardian swooped downward till her arms circled my bottom. I felt the coarse cotton of her sleeves as it scraped my already damaged bottom. Flying in the air, I was atop of everyone with a full view of my guardian’s realm. I saw the cowardly faces as she walked to her tent. I watched from the protection of her mighty shoulders ready to laugh at these adults so afraid of one woman.
My hope to humiliate with a smirking face, the nasty nurses and the cute guard with the machine gun became impossible. I thought of where our destination would bring me. My little nipples began to scrape the coarse green material. It was a strange pain.
I knew the look of fear on their faces could not match the one inside my heart.
On the mountain that bobbed toward the large tent a thought reentered my mind. I would be separated from mother, 5 days. I barely left her side as she relieved herself near our hut. But now I would be alone. No! Not alone. I would be with a monster. Who held me as men would hold an infant, with no difficulty, but lack of motherly gentleness. I was scared to death. As we entered the tent of the women in white, my fear became physical. I urinated on the scratchy cloth of her jacket. I knew my time on earth would end soon.