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Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Passers by in the night. Dalat: Vietnam

KC's cousin kept a plant in the living room. The blooms looked like avant-garde light bulbs. A bright orange. They were deadly poisonous and came frome the nearby forests. I could never understand having such a thing in a house with children around. The walls were peppered with bullet holes, a reminder of battles in the recent past.
One night I was woken by the sound of a loud explosion that seemed to come from just down the road towards the town. Perhaps I was already awake as I knew where the noise came from. I jumped out of bed and went to the living room. The explosion was followed by bursts of machine gun fire.
Once there I crouched down by the window. The lights were kept off of course. The last thing one should ever do is put the lights on or put one's head out of the window. I met a fellow once who had been living in Cholon with his girl friend during the fighting there. She was American or European, I can't remember, in any case not Vietnamese as he kept reminding me. One day hearing the sound of firing she put her head out the window to see what was happening and got shot dead by some passing American soldier. The fellow couldn't understand why they shot her. Frankly I thought she was foolish; dead foolish perhaps.
I saw two people jogging up the road coming from the town. There were of course no street lights and it was night but there must have been a moon as I was able to see their silhouettes clearly, the road being only a few yards from the window. From their floppy hats and general bearing I judged them to be Viet Cong beating an orderly withdrawal. There was a steadfastness of purpose about them that spoke of fearless discipline.
As things seemed quiet and there was no follow up by the South Vietnamese I went back to bed.

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