Mekong Delta

by Andrew Passey

Chapter 1

How did my life end up like this? It was certainly unexpected. It had been full of twists and turns, terrible experiences but also amazing ones. Uncountable pain and suffering but through it all also the lightness and beauty of life.

I guess it all started where I was born. A small hut on the Mekong river in the heart of the river delta., the great life giving river splitting into many winding paths to the sea. My father was a fisherman and we eked out the most subsistence lifestyle there was. Living off the river, at times full with the bounty of fish but there were also times when hunger was a recurring theme.

Our lives were governed by the river, our fortunes entwined in it's ebb and flow. When it felt benevolent it would provide fish for us, when it was angry then it would rise and flood what limited belongings we had. It wasn't until I made my trip to school for the first time that I truly understood that not everyone lived their lives like we did.

My parents wanted better for me though and one thing my Mum in particular had imparted in me was to study hard. I worked hard to learn and did well, even gaining aptitude with a decent level of english. The Government wanted all of us to learn it so we could work with tourism, work with overseas business and drive this great country of ours forward. And what they wanted they usually got.

Misery followed me though. My mother died of cancer, a monster that caused her to slowly withdraw and then disappear from my life. That was chapter one of my life really. A prologue to the pain that followed. It really upsets me to think too much about it so try not to dwell on it too much anymore.

I like to remember her from the good times, her reading stories to me or brushing my dark flowing hair. The sound of the river flowing nearby, always present, always watching. It's hard to explain to someone who hasn't experienced it what a hole losing your mother leaves on you. It leaves a cold dark pain, like hunger gnawing away. My heart ached worst at night as I slept all alone on a thin hard mattress always trying to ignore the thoughts running through my head.

So there I was only a boy of eleven years old motherless. I was now left with my Dad who was a broken man from the loss of my mother. He tried as best as he could but it was a hard hard year. The memory of those times is hazy. I remember a lot of tears and a lot of pain. Throughout it I remember the Mekong flowing as it always did out to sea. I hoped when I cried that my tears would meld into it. That the river would take my grief and wash it away for me. It didn't though. The grief and the pain remained.

My mother has always insisted that school was important. Though it was hard I persevered through the troubled times and I eventually finished at my primary school. At my dad's behest I didn't go on to middle school at first. Instead I just helped my Dad on the boat. It meant I could keep an eye on him. It was clear he was still a broken man and I wasn;t sure if he would ever be made whole again. Although I wondered about the same for me.

I turned 12 years old and life just continued as it did with both of us overcome with grief and barely managing to hold it together day by day.

Even through his grief though my Dad wanted better for me. A few months later he wrote to a distant relative who he referred to as my "uncle.". He was a bit evasive about whether we were actually related but it was clear the man he referred to as my uncle was someone he respected.

One day he got a reply and excitedly told me that I was going to the big city of Can Tho where my uncle lived. The plan was for me to enter middle school there and live with him. Unlike us my Uncle had a better standard of living, he worked in the tourism industry apparently. My Dad's letter had struck a chord with him. He said he could see the family resemblance in the faded photo of me my Dad enclosed with the letter. He also said he was keen to show me the ropes and learn the family business.

I was distraught about leaving though.The Mekong would still flow through Can Tho but it would be different there. I was used to it being on my doorstep. I told it my problems, my hopes and fears. I liked to think it was looking out for me. I know it was crazy but it helped me deal with the grief and loss of my mother. Now I was to leave my old life behind. Leave my father behind. Leave the river behind and our way of life.

I was really worried about my father without me there to look after him. Rightly as it turned out. As he saw me onto a battered old bus he looked broken again. I wondered if I would ever see him again. We weren't close due to his taciturn nature but he was all I had left.

The bus pulled away taking me to my new life in Can Tho. The bus was full of life. It was a complete shock to me how many different people there were on it. I squeezed on as best I could and marvelled at how we sped through the towns and countryside. Stopping here and there for people to get on and get off.

As we approached Can Tho I mentally prepared myself. I had the address of my uncle's house and I would make my way there when I arrived with what little belongings I had. The address was near the main bus station and after some help with directions I stood outside what looked like a small warehouse, not quite the nice well to do house I envisaged my uncle living in.

I knocked on the door and I was shown in by an old lady to an office. It was definitely more of a working warehouse than a house but maybe I was to be taken there once he arrived.

When he did finally see me he smiled and gave me a hug which made me feel much better about things. He explained first of all that I wouldn't be moving into his house "just yet" but that all would be clear in time. That the old lady lived in the back rooms and I would stay with her and the rest of her family. It was all a shock to be honest and I was swept up in a whirlwind of thoughts.

Things got more confusing when there was a knock on the door and a man came in and my Uncle smiled at him.

"Ah finally. Well Phuc, this is my doctor, he just wants to check you out, check you're healthy, we don't want to spread any rural diseases around. First of all Phuc could you take all your clothes off please."

I was blushing red at being naked in front of two men I'd only just met. But I did as I was told, finally pulling my underpants down to show off my hairless dick and balls. It got worse as the doctor measured various bits of me, including my dick and balls for some reason. He had me open my mouth wide and took swabs. He jabbed and poked all over. All the while I stood there naked as the day I was born.

Then finally it was over and I could get dressed again. My Uncle and the doctor had a whispered conversation in the corner of the room. I had heightened hearing from living in the country and I could hear fragments of them talking. Clearly they were not as quiet as they thought they were but none of it made any sense. Having said that my brain wasn't really functioning. It was all so overwhelming moving here to the big city. Then meeting my uncle and now standing naked in front of two strange men within a few minutes of meeting them!

I tried to make out the words flowing between them,

."...will pay top dollar to break him in but he said he wants a change from just hairless. He wants to take that first flush. He wants them to be just developing. Apparently he says it feels really good to know that you're pretty much given them or forced them to have their first orgasm while you're inside him. I think we can raise our price. The boy is even better looking in person than expected. There's talk of ownership and they will pay heavily for the privilege," My Uncle seemed to be saying. Were they talking about me? And what was all this orgasm stuff? I hadn't heard the word before and resolved to look it up afterwards.

"Fine but that looks a little while off. Balls haven't dropped and no development I can see of. I think I'll do weekly checks so we can track his development and keep across it."

"Fine, I'll leave you to draw up a schedule. For now, school. I'll need him for my other work anyway potentially and being fluent in English will increase his value."

The conversation finished and my Uncle turned and smiled at me,

"Ok Phuc, we're done. Let me take you to your room and get you settled,"He said. The room was better than I was used to. However it wasn't exactly what I'd been led to believe from the talk of my Uncle being a big shot. I was told I'd share the bathroom with the family but that it wasn't permanent,

"For now you'll stay here. My house is full but this is close to school and the doctor wants to keep a close eye on you. After what happened to your mother...well it's important we're across any health issues before they happen. Don't worry, it won't be forever," he said smiling at me warmly.

I felt reassured and the living quarters were comfortable with a bed and a fan, and a desk and chair. It wasn't like I had much stuff with me. The on site family would cook me meals and the doctor would keep an eye on me. Still, it looked like it would be a fairly lonely set up at least until I could move in with my Uncle. In reality it was fine. The family were nice but it was a strange set up. There was a boy my age called Dinh who also went to my school. As well as Dinh there was the old lady who ran the place and I used an honorific for and a younger lady who seemed to do all the heavy lifting like cooking and cleaning. It was unclear if Dinh was the old lady's grandson or not. I asked the old lady once and was told it was rude to ask. It certainly put me back in my box!

Dinh was slightly taller than me with an easy going manner. He was quick to joke although at times he had that look in his eye that I knew, because I had it too. Pain and trying not to think about the upset in the past. He never wanted to talk about it and always made light of it. I hoped one day he'd open up to me if we became good friends which is what I wanted to happen. I just hoped I'd settle down in my new life soon.

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