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Thursday, 5 April 2007

Visitors in the night: Saigon: Vietnam

I was woken up by some sound in my room. I put out my hand and picked up the only object available which was a torch. On lighting it I saw two men. One said it was alright as they were police. They appeared in fact to be wearing police uniforms. There was not much I could do about anything. It was far from alright though.
The next morning I was absolutely livid with rage. Why had the maid let them in to the house without telling me? I can understand that she was afraid of them. I knew a German in Saigon who on opening his door had refused entry to them only to get a rifle butt slammed in his face.
I considered myself lucky that I followed my own rules. When there was somebody else sleeping in the same building I always put my loaded revolver on a cupboard the other side of the room. This meant I had to consciously wake up before putting it in my hand. Under the bed is alright when one is alone. Then one probably has no choice but to shoot at shadows which shouldn't be in one's room in the first place. To have used it that night after they had been more or less invited in by the maid would have been suicidel. If there were any children about all arms should be unloaded and put away safely. The risk of accidents was always greater than any exterior threat and it would have been terrible to have shot one's maid or girlfriend.
PB was not with me that night. The police must have known who was living there. The pretence of searching for deserters was wearing very thin with me. There were many of course and doubtless the police had to search for them but I felt this was pure harrassment.
I almost fired the maid but felt perhaps she had learnt a lesson and would not open the door again in the night without waking me first. She also came to some agreement with the field police stationed in a school opposite my house to warn her of any further raids.
Up country we had never had anything to do with the police. In fact if one were associated with the military one was never bothered. The police might have regained their courage after the Tet offensive but the army was all powerful. In major towns though they were rather an irritation.

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