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A BOAT TO NOWHERE Powered By Docstoc
					Kiem Vu                                                                      Final draft

                        A BOAT IN THE QUEST FOR FREEDOM

       The boat quietly departs in the ghostly darkness of the late October night, 1989
hoping to reach the Thailand Gulf. On board are over one-hundred Vietnamese people
of all ages, some dispirited, but most happy, and brimming with hope that they will
reach the promised land. This intensive escape leaves them vulnerable, and the
challenges they encounter are enormous; however, it exhibits their iron will against the
corrupt practices of communism.
       Morning comes to begin a beautiful day. The sky is clear and sunny. The boat
rocks slightly by the waves and continues to run at its full speed. The people know so
well at the time that there is no going back. Either they will make it or die somewhere
in the immense and unforgiving sea. Fear of the uncertainty and the unknown lingers in
their minds. Are they heading in the right direction? Will they survive? Will they be hit by
the storm or face the cruel and savage Thailand's pirates? Where will they end up...?
On the third day, dark clouds are hovering over their heads and strong winds start to
blow heavily against their tiny wooden boat. The calm ocean becomes increasingly
violent with ferocious waves driving their boat far off course. There is no sight of land,
nothing except the rumbling sky, the quivering winds, and the fast trembling heartbeats;
the people are crying for help. Soon, they run out of food, raw fish have become their
main source of nourishment, but even that is rare. One can especially hear children
whining for food while their parents sit there helplessly. These apprehensive innocent
kids do not know what has happened to them, and why they have been put in the boat
to never see their home again. Perhaps the assurance of having a delicious American
hamburger after these struggles could lighten them. A child interminably in tears asks
her mother, “When are we going home?” And nothing is as painful than to realize that
they do not have a home, the communists have taken theirs. After weeks, the trip has
undermined everyone’s health, even their clothes are wet, and they have had to sleep
through the coldest nights. Their spirits and strength are greatly diminished. Why is
freedom so hard to find? If it is not in the vast ocean, then where is it?
       At last, after exhausting days and nights hopelessly waiting for a miracle, the
boat finally arrives at Kokra Island in the Thailand Gulf, and three sailboats approach
Kiem Vu                                                                   Final draft

welcoming the immigrants. People scream in overwhelming happiness, and children
rush towards the deck hoping to fill their stomachs after days without food. Suddenly,
their future evaporates the moment they see the gleam of sharp knives advancing
towards them. In a matter of seconds the tragic little boat, which has been half-eaten
up by storms, deformed by hunger, is now surrounded by sea pirates. They ransack
the ship, and rob the escapees; men are clubbed, knifed, and thrown into the sea;
women raped and tortured with savageness beyond imagination. After that, they tie the
escape boat to their own and pull away, running to maximum speed and making abrupt
turns to drown the people inside. Only one woman survives the attack, who later tells
the story. Fifteen people in the refugees’ boat are my close relatives including my two
sisters and one brother, and the majority of others are my neighbors.
       Nevertheless, the quest for freedom is not yet over. Despite the adversity of the
journey, having to flee the homeland is the only way to avoid prosecution in Vietnam
after the Vietnam war. The government put my father in jail for six years because he
stood up for democracy. Others were killed or sent to “death” camps when their beliefs
contradicted communism. Consequently, hundreds of thousands of people escape and
face immense challenges in their efforts towards a happy-free life.
       A year after my brother and sisters died at the hand of those sea pirates, my
family and other siblings start our journey. Six years later, our dream comes true when
we finally arrive in America in September 1995. It is the first time I experience the
effervescent taste of Seven-up, the delicious flavor of McDonald’s french fries, and the
atmosphere of true democracy that my country does not possess. Holding a
hamburger in my hand reminds me of my brother and sisters hungering for it so badly
that they risked their lives for America. That hamburger is worth only a few dollars, but
priceless to me because the price my family has paid is measureless. I am very
fortunate for being the one who is at last able to have the hamburger in his hand after
many years of yearning and suffering.