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Sunday, 23 May 2010

Vietnam memories: the story: part 20

20

The Road from Vung Tau to Saigon: part 2

We came to the end of the village and left people and cover behind us. The road was raised above surrounding rice paddies. There was not a cloud in the sky, not a sound to be heard. A beautiful day for a young couple to be walking along a quiet country road.


We came to the destroyed bridge. One span, about three feet wide, was still passable and we crossed over the first, destroyed part of the bridge. I then stopped and looked around me. There was the wreckage of one of these three wheeled vehicles. I couldn't see the driver, perhaps he had fallen down below. I didn't look below; it was not the moment for idle curiosity. I looked to my left and saw a rather fat peasant woman. I couldn't see her face. Her body was in a most strange posture. Part of my own survival mechanism kicked in and I thought, 'What a strange manner in which to pray'. It was the eternal prayer of death. This was one of the shades of fear I have talked about earlier, an escape from reality. The body goes calmly through all the actions required of it, but the mind blankets out the truth. I looked to my right and saw a young girl sleeping. She must have been about twelve years old. A very beautiful face, untroubled in its sleep. I looked down her body and saw her guts hanging out onto the bridge, her stomach ripped open. Hers was the final eternal sleep of death.


I looked around. Not a sound. No movement. Nothing. I looked up and high in the sky I saw a spotter plane. So high it might have been an eagle. I looked at PB, she remained very calm and without a word we continued. PB was always very brave. The fact that we would never show any weakness to one another I found quite natural. The fact that we might have both been nutty didn't occur either. There is a Vietnamese phrase 'dien cai dau' again with no accents, which Americanised was 'dinkydow' which might have been appropriate. It means crazy.


We continued on for a half mile or so and I saw movement to my left. A patrol of Regional Force soldiers was advancing quickly along the drainage ditch beside the road. They were led by an ashen faced officer, his right arm held out in front of him holding a Colt.45. His shaking hand all too visible. He did not give us a glance. He looked how I inwardly felt. We continued on until we came across a lone three wheeled taxi vehicle, which for an exorbitant fee took us to the next village where we found transport to take us to Saigon.


In Saigon I took care of my business. The evening was not quite as relaxed as I would have hoped. The dinner rather tasteless. We had to return the next day.

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