“After the war, little Hung and his mother were sent to one of the New Economic Zones, desolate jungle areas, some near the Cambodian border, where the government sent ‘undesirables,’ including an estimated 76 percent of all Amerasians. There, Hung told us, he grew up scouring the jungle for wood and bamboo shoots to sell at market so he could eat. ‘Everyone was hungry and in the same situation, so we just had to accept the hardships,’ Hung told us.”
–from Surviving Twice (Yarborough 2005, p. 49)
I can only access a fraction of knowledge. Since the war, numerous books have been written, movies made, and I spend more time making lists of the things I need to read and watch then actually doing it. Most days this project feels selfish, exploitative even, like I am looking for closure on behalf of my father, but I can’t really understand the long-term effects of war, not like those who experienced it first-hand. Of all those who have had to rebuild completely their life.
The house I grew up in has been condemned, the sagging roof and dilapidated porch is a source of sincere grief for me but my family hasn’t lived there in more than 10 years. We weren’t evicted and sent to an uninhabitable part of the country. We willingly packed our belongings. Someone else moved in and their child slept in the room where I played with Barbies and watched TV. At school, and no one harassed me because of who my father was. Despite the abuse, despite his alcoholism, despite all the rest of the unspoken things, it could’ve been much worse.