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 Post subject: Memories
PostPosted: Sun Sep 06, 2009 12:21 am 
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Теперь предлагаем бесплатную ежедневную маммографию!
Теперь предлагаем бесплатную ежедневную маммографию!
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I'm not sure when I wrote this, but I just fouond it again, and since I'm abandoned for the weekend, it seems a good time to put it up for casual reading. I'm not sure if the people described are actually H'mong - I think that was a generic term for ethnic groups other than Vietnamese.

This happened though... I think... I dunno... of all the things I've ever lost, I miss my mind the most. :? SW




In 1969, I spent most of the year near the Vietnamese hamlet of Cam Lo.

I think the best time to get a true impression of that unhappy country was on cool, foggy mornings. The low-lying clouds would keep the smells about - the smells of cooking fires, incense burning in the buddhist temple just down the road and the pervading smells associated with the lack of an organized sewage system.

At first light, one could hear roosters crowing and gongs being struck at the Buddhist temple. They were struck every morning, but I never learned to what end. Soon after that, people carrying various goods and wares such as rice, fish, ducks and other necessities could be seen moving toward on area on the east side of the village set aside for their open air market.

To the southwest of Cam Lo was a community of what I believe were H'mong who were of a different ethnic group than the Vietnamese. They were of the same general build and complexion, but their faces displayed higher and more prominent cheekbones. Their faces were also more "angular", if you will. They all dressed in the same fashion: the men wore a shirt of some sort - usually a cast-off military fatigue shirt, a loincloth and a flat turban or mililtary cap. The women all wore a wrap-around skirt of coarse fabric that depended from their waists to their ankles, a larger turban than the men's and such jewelry in their ears and about their necks as each felt was in good taste. Most of the women carried a small machete tucked into the top of their skirts, and they all had small white clay pipes carried upside down in their mouths.

The H'mong men were chiefly occupied as mercenaries - principally for the CIA I've been told, and the women earned money chopping wood they later converted into charcoal they carried to market in huge sacks of hemp fiber.

The country north of Cam Lo was a "free fire zone". Which is to say anything moving was to be shot on sight. The H'mong women were unmoved by that decree and went into the scrib for wood whenever they pleased knowing well they wouldn't be fired upon. Thery gathered brush all day, and in the late afternoon, each carried an impossibly large bundle of sticks back to their village to be made into charcoal. On the days they didn't cut wood, they carried immense bags of charcoal on their
backs to sell or trade at the market.

On this occasion when I had drawn gate guard duty, I had the opportunity to witness a singular occurrence. Two dozen H'mong women were walking along Route Nine, making their way to the market. The gate of our compound was a gathering place for the village children as most of the Americans were kindly disposed to them, and it afforded them various amusements and the opportunity to run errands for small sums. The children were anything but kindly disposed to the H'mong women, though.
I don't know if the reason was racially motivated, but they hated each other bitterly, expressing their animosity in the most vulgar language possible.

On this occasion, I was in an elevated bunker by the gate and saw a boy aged about eight dart boldly from a group of children who were shouting curses to the H'mong women and reach for a teen-aged girl's waist. Whether he was trying to steal her machete or snatch the skirt from her hips to impress the watching Americans, I'll never know. The girl, however, had unimaginably quick reflexes and caught the boy's wrist. She managed to drop her large sack of charcoal and pinning him to the ground, she methodically and unmercifully beat him. His screams put me in mind of how a monkey might sound if being gelded with a dull instrument.

It was an incrongruous sight witht he bare-breasted girl holding the boy down and vioently punching him without any sort of facial expression - she didn't even change her bite on the pipe. The other women watched the proceeding impassivley and seemed to be offering casual advice on how best to viciously injure the boy so he wouldn't be tempted to try any assualts in the future. To that end, I believe she put a finger in his eye.

At least that's the conclusion I drew from his frantic screams. Her arms finally tired, and she didn't so much let him go as loosen her hold slightly. He squirmed loose and sprinted away like a scalded monkey.

The women's facial expressions are worthy of further comment because when I would meet them, it never varied. Thet always walked like they
all had some urgent purpose, and they invariably had a very stoic demeanor. I never saw one smile or indicate any emotion, and i always wondered what they might be thinking. Take the girl who brutalized the boy, for example.

What were her thoughts as she trudged to the market with her bag of charcoal? Was she thinking of setting her burden down? Of a husband or lover?? Of having or wanting a healthy, smiling baby to gently pat her face with its chubby little hands? I know they had their mysterious thoughts because whie their bodies had a dusky, dusty appearance from constant exposure to smoke and charcoal residue, their eyes always glittered with an acute awareness.

**To be continued**

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 Post subject: Re: Memories
PostPosted: Sun Sep 06, 2009 8:12 pm 
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VA-75 Spook
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...nice write up... ;) ....If I remember right,the Hmong originally 'imigrated' from China......way back when sometime...

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 Post subject: Re: Memories
PostPosted: Fri Sep 11, 2009 11:52 am 
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Brigadier General
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well , they have immagrated here [st paul] now :D


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