The ‘S.V. Manh Me’- will she make it? Will I make it? The rusty courageous old carrier lurches and groans as she battles her way through the severe conditions. The screaming sound of her engine appears so powerful and forceful. She’s on a mission. To save us all from our grave. The prison camp, the guards- a direct road to death. We had no hope of surviving there. It was only a matter of time. Escaping seemed like the right thing to do. The only thing I could do. But… what next? Will I ever see my Vietnamese grandparents again? The sad reality is, probably not! The sudden upheaval in my life is mind-boggling. Far too much for me too handle.
Words can’t explain my fear of the monstrous seas and the thought of dying at sea continually
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My head feels like it might explode. My stomach is constantly churning with the pain of the famine that we are all enduring. There is not nearly enough food for everyone. Even when I do eat, I cannot keep the dried-shrimp soup down for more than a minute. Just the smell of vomit makes me want to be sick. Everyone who is squashed up in the hulls of ‘The Manh Me’ is seasick. One thing I’m certain of; I have never vomited so much in my entire life. As a boy, my thoughts of boat trips were always of tranquil, peaceful, moonlit experiences. Maybe this trip, my first boat trip to sea, was just bad luck. Like everything else in my life.
But it can’t be that much further now. I can taste freedom in the air, it must be approaching. Land formations are now barely visible on the horizon. The sight of land is exciting and encouraging to everyone. What a relief. It’s the first clear sign that we’re making progress. It seems like there may only be a few miles to go. In fact, we were due to hit the coast yesterday. There might be light at the end of this tunnel after all. If I can just hold onto all that’s left of me, it should all come to an end before daybreak! It will be like waking up from a horrific nightmare.
But the waves are still crashing relentlessly onto the decks, knocking the old ship under water. Can she stand it? Will the old girl make it? Questions I can’t seem to answer. The blistering force of the winds are tearing the sails and taking control