February 8, 2017
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The whole room lights up with the beams of my dad’s headlights. I see him pull into the garage and get out of his car. I walk over to the door to welcome him into the house.
“Hey dad, how was work,” I say to him.
“Good,” he replies. I can sense that he has had a long day and does not want to talk to me.
I begin to walk upstairs because I am disappointed in the fact that my dad did not really want to have a conversation with me. Ever since mom died he has not been the same. I lay my head down in my bed.
“Th?c d?y, TH?C D?Y”

As I blink my eyes open, I hear someone yelling at me in a foreign language. It sounds like an asian language. All around me I see many, many guns.

“B?n bi?t gì,”  a short asian man wearing a military uniform yells at me.

“I do not speak this language,” I say, while shaking in fear.

“What do you know?” another man next to the first guy says.

At this point I have absolutely no idea what is going on. As I look around and become more aware of my surroundings, I realize I am in a large tent in the rainforest.

I swallow nervously and say, “I do not know anything I am trying to escape a warzone”.

I wonder how I know I am trying to escape. Then, suddenly thoughts start racing through my mind and I realize I am not in my own body anymore. Somehow I know that my name is Chi Duong and I am a citizen of Vietnam. I ran away from my family to escape the misery that Vietnam has become for me.

A hard blow to my head stops my realizations in their tracks.

“Where are you from,” the guy on the left says.

“I am from Mui Ne, a small village in the south part of Binh Thaun,” I say.

The first man picks me up from the bench I am seated on and drags me outside and throws me on the ground. He fires warning shots on the ground next to me and yells at me to run away in Vietnamese. I realize now that I can understand Vietnamese fluently.

As I am running away I begin to think deeper about the memories of Chi Duong and why he is running away from his life in Vietnam. His village had not been attacked or had even seen any soldiers. Chi was running away from his failed marriage and rejection by the people of the town.

As I am running I close my eyes and everything fades to dark.
I wake up lying on dirt with no one in sight. I must have passed out while running. Right above me is a fruit tree and it makes me realize how hungry I am. I must have not eaten in a few days because my stomach feels like the sides are touching each other. I am about to climb the tree to get some food when a sudden noise behind me startles me.

It is a young boy, probably 15 or 16, holding some food out for me.

“Nhanh chóng, hãy th?c ph?m này,” he says, before running away into the woods.

Memories flash back to me and I realize this boy's name is Dung , and I am back in the outskirts of my home village. This boy is my only friend left in the whole village. Why this is, though, is still a mystery to me. More important to this realization to me is eating the food. Dung has given me a small piece of bread and a large, yellow, fleshy fruit. The bread is as hard as a brick but the fruit is heavenly.

After eating, I start trying to figure out why I am hated by my village. Suddenly, I begin to feel light headed. I wonder if there was something wrong with the food I just ate but I am not wondering very long as I collapse onto the ground.
As I fade back to consciousness I notice that I am walking. I try to move my head to look around but I realize I do not have any control over my body. It is very dark and Chi is moving very, very slowly in order to not trip on anything.

“Cách này,” I hear someone whisper to my left.

This startled me but after a few seconds I realized it was the young boy Dung, and he was telling me to “go this way”. The fact that he whispered this made me very curious as to what Chi was doing. In the distance we see a fire with some men around it. It has become very apparent to me that we are trying to avoid this group of people. I can sense that whatever Dung and I are doing is not something good.

Then, I hear Dung telling me that we are here and to get my bag ready. Chi pulls the bag off of his back and begins walking over to a field of some sort. The closer he gets the more I seem to make out a farm of some sort. It soon becomes readily apparent that I am entering a corn field. Dung starts pulling corn off of the plants and putting it into his bag. Immediately I thought that I was in a bad situation and that I should just get out of the field now, but then memories come back to me from Chi’s life. I realize that if he does not take this corn now, in the close future his family will starve. As the bag gets heavier, and heavier, I tell Dung that I think this will be enough and that we should leave now. Right after I say this, we hear dogs barking and see lamps down the street.

Immediately, Dung and I panic and run in the opposite direction of the people and dogs not thinking about where we were going. After running for about 300 feet we realize that if we keep on going this direction we will end up at the main village, so we go off of the path and go into the woods. We run a little into the woods and hide behind a log. As the dark barking gets louder, my heart starts to beat faster and faster. Then, the dogs barking picks up and I can hear them running as fast as they can towards me. It is inevitable that I will be caught so I give up hope.

When the people find us they bring us into the center of the village and take our bags. They begin to interrogate us about why we were taking the corn from the farm. We answer by telling them that our family is starving and begging for them not to hurt us. They answer my question by knocking me out with a kick to the head.

When I wake up I am tied up, face down in the dirt. I hear a woman crying and I roll over to see my wife. She cuts my ropes with a knife and then walks away into the jungle. It hits me that this will be the last time that Chi will ever see his wife and the thought of this makes my stomach turn. I bend into the fetal position and pass out.

I wake up to my own bed, in my own room and instantly have a sense of relief. I can’t help to wonder about what would happen next in Chi’s life, but I am more engulfed in thoughts about my own life. I begin to think about how important my dad is in my life not only as a breadwinner, and the sole money maker in the house, but also as a friend and a role model. As I think about this I stop feeling sorry for myself and start feeling sorry for my dad. He has been the only person in my life that has been a good and steady influence on me. Everyday he goes to work for 8 hours, and everyday he comes back home for me. Everyday he enters the house and although he may not be the most friendly person he is never unkind or unfair.

“Dinner time,” my dad yells from downstairs.

And another thing he never fails to do for me, put a meal on my plate. I go down the stairs in a completely different mood then I went up the stairs in. Instead of thinking about how my dad should treat me different, I think about how I should treat my dad different. With this mindset the sound at dinner is not just our silverware scraping on our plates, for the first time in a while we actually have a real conversation. By thinking of him before I think of myself, I managed to create an atmosphere of happiness. This is the most important part of life, happiness.

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