Our pretty dresses, change of clothes, photo albums, and belonging were loaded on one ship. We boarded another ship. All we had with us were what we had on and a few spare clothes along with baby stuff for the younger children.
The drivers rowed us to the big fishing ship. All 260 men, women, and children came aboard our ship. On the fishing ship, there were square holes where the fishermen stored their fish and equipment. The women and children were placed inside these holes. We were lined up like little sardines along the wall of the ship.
I saw my mom and my 3 young siblings go down one hole. I started to follow but there was no more room. They placed my two sisters and me in another hole. It was crowded and smelly. There was a stingy smell of rotten seafood mixed with sweat and sour. I climbed down the ladder and was placed right next to a big Chinese lady. She was mean and grumpy-looking. There was a permanent frown on her face. We were sitting down with our backs against the wall and propped up by the people on both sides.
It didn’t matter. Nothing seemed to matter. My head felt funny and dizzy. Is the room spinning or am I spinning? I leaned over to one side and started to doze off. Suddenly, I felt a tight and sharp squeeze sensation tugging on my skin. Somebody’s fingernails dug into my skin. Ouch! I was pinched by someone. It was the mean lady next to me. I re-positioned myself and leaned to the other side and fell fast asleep.
The next thing I remembered was the smell of sour odor. I saw slightly liquid food particles and pieces floating around me. Did someone throw up? Did I throw up? Am I swimming in it? Oh well, it was not important. I was tired and all I wanted was to sleep.
I heard someone’s voice above me. “Drink Ha drink.” a man’s voice. It was my dad squeezing lemon juice into my dried mouth. I sloshed the juice around in my mouth, I didn’t feel anything. Was it sour? There was no taste. Everything was still moving. My dad pulled my sisters and me up on deck for fresh air. It was really really bright. The sun was shining in my eyes. Let me sleep. I don’t want to open my eyes. Things were spinning out of control when I open my eyes. I heard my dad say “Look! Look! There’s a flying fish.” I was thinking there was no such thing. I wanted to see it. Where is it? I was too tired. I lied back down again.
We were floating for three nights. On the fourth day, our ship came upon an American oil rig. We were running out of food and water. Luckily the people on the American ship gave us food, and water, and pointed us to the nearest land. We were grateful for their generosity. My cousins fought the mass for a handful of cocktail fruits. They shared it with my siblings and me. My taste bud was out of whack. I was still not able to enjoy food. I did not remember what it tasted like.
It took us half a day before we arrived on an island that was part of Malaysia. We had successfully escaped the pirates and the communists. However, our adventure had just begun.
Please stay tuned for my next blog – “The Plan”. If there are questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below.