LOOKING FOR FREEDOM
by Nguyen Si
I spent ten days on the sea before I arrived at Pulau Bidong, Malaysia, which is located southeast in the Pacific Ocean. All the people on my boat had to stay in the hospital for a week to recover. The trip was a nightmare to me.
It was a dark, drizzly and foggy night in the spring. My father took me to the harbor where the boat was located. On the way to the harbor my father told me, "You will escape tonight."
Then I asked him, "Are you going with me, Dad?"
He said, "No, I have to stay with your mother."
So I asked him, "Whey aren't you and Mom going with me?"
Then he said, "Because we don't have enough money for three of us to pay the sailor."
After that we kept silent until we got to the harbor because we were afraid the Communists would hear it, and they would catch us. When we got to the harbor, we didn't see the boat, so we had to wait there. There were some people waiting for the boat, too. At 2 AM, still dark as midnight, the boat came. It was a very old, small boat, about five feet wide and forty feet long. It had just an engine, without a roof or chair. When the boat ran ashore, people began to get on it. There were seventeen people on the boat, and everyone had just enough room to sit in the bottom of the boat.
Before my father took me to the boat, he hugged me tight, kissed me on my forehead and said, "Take care, son."
At that time, my eyes were tearful and I couldn't say goodbye to him. When the boat was leaving, I looked back at the harbor. I saw him. He was still waving his hand, and I kept watching him until he disappeared in the dark.
Early in the first morning, the sun was just a little curve above the water in the east. It was the first day in my life that I was on the ocean in all its natural beauty. Oh, it was very pretty that morning with the blue water of the ocean and a breezy wind. I was very excited when I saw it, and everyone was very excited, too. Just a few hours later, all of us suffered from the sunshine, dehydration and seasickness. Then some of us threw up with our pale faces. I also threw up all the food that I had eaten. Then I asked the sailor to have some water to drink.
He gave me a small cup of water, and I asked him for more, but he told me, "We carry only five gallons of fresh water on the boat." I was so scared after I heard it. Then I crept into the bow and lay there.
On the first night, a storm came with huge waves and also the engine didn't work. Then our boat jumped up and down in the waves. Every one of us kept praying to God. We had a hard time dealing with the storm, but we went through it at last. But our compass and map were useless because salt water had gotten into them. On the next morning, everything was normal again. The storms were gone but the sunshine was back. Around us there was just a large body of water, as if we were in another world with no people on it. We just saw a group of dolphins following in front of us, and they jumped up and down in the water.
After two days our food and water ran out because the boat was running off course. People on the boat were so quiet, starving and thirsty, and so was I. Everyone was waiting to die because there was no water or food, and they were desperate. They were desperate because the sailor told them that they would dock in Malaysia in only two days. However, we were four days at sea already, and we didn't see any land.
Luckily, early in the next morning, while I stood in the front of the boat, I saw a few swallows that flew in the sky. Then I knew there were some islands around there. So I looked around. On the horizon, I saw a very small patch of land far away from us. Then I cried aloud, "Land, land."
It made everyone wake up. When we got near this island, we saw many Communists with their guns. They shot in the sky to warn us. Then they captured us and took us to a small house. The chief of these Communists called all of us to his office and searched us to get our money, gold, watches, etc. At that time, he took all of my money from me, but he couldn't find any gold because I had none. After that, they gave us some food, water, gasoline, and a compass. Then they expelled us from their island.
Two days after we left the island, we saw a huge ship, and we stopped near by and asked for help. Everyone was disappointed because that ship was a pirate ship. Then they got down to our boat and searched us again for money, gold, etc. But they didn't fined anything of value because we had given it all at the island. Then they chose two beautiful girls who were about fifteen years old for their ship. They wanted to sink our ship, but a fisherman's boat came to us and the pirates ran away. We used sign language to communicate with the fishermen because we couldn't speak their language.
Finally, we saw land far away from us. Then everyone screamed, "We made it!" Everybody in the boat was happy and cheerful. Then we docked at the shore, and the people who lived around there come out and looked at us. They stared at us as if we were aliens from another planet. A few minutes later, the police of Malaysia come and took us to the hospital.
I was reborn after I arrived at Pulau-Bidong. I will never forget to keep thanks to God, to the people on the island, and also to the fishermen who helped us to find the free country which we were looking for. I will always remember my trip, and I'll never forget this great event for the rest of my life.
source : http//neiu.edu/~deptelp.htm