The Spaces Between Your Fingers

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 During his journey from Vietnam to Malaysia, my dad recalls the overcrowded hull of his ship, and its terrible living conditions. But in the misery of his memories, he also remembers small glimpses of humor.

The thick air ran into my skin and crawled around it like slug. There were heavy breezes every time someone walked by, but other than that I felt as if I was breathing in the same air I just exhaled. Every time I wiped the sweat off my forehead, more droplets would form. Instead of cooling me down, the sweat just made my clothes heavier.

The hull of the ship was overcrowded. People shuffled to get to the deck, where the cool ocean air was. But I found it cooler to just sit down, avoiding the elbows and sweaty bodies. My family sat around in a circle, using our luggage as make shift beds and pillows.

I walked through the creaking ship, past the shadows and beams of light slipping through the wooden boards of the deck. In the corner were huge metal basins of water. Too tall to reach the open tops, we used plastic tubes to suck water out into bowls. The tubes were used to siphon gas before, evident by the taste. There was no escaping the heat of the ship. While walking back with the gas soiled water, I passed the stairs to the deck. I could feel a slight breeze before the body heat of the crowd reached me.

I finally returned to my family, and gave them some water. I sat back down, watching the other passengers. The bathroom, a plastic bucket, was being passed around. A larger woman took it and tried to sit down. The thing cracked and its contents spilled out. We were all hit with a wave of stench. It was hours before we got used to the smell, but I hadn't laughed that hard since we started this journey. 

Silver Lining

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Gulf of Thailand

During his journey from Vietnam to Malaysia, my dad recalls the overcrowded hull of his ship, and its terrible living conditions. But in the misery of his memories, he also remembers small glimpses of humor.

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Recorded by Jon Diep on December 2, 2014
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