Island Love

Love was everywhere on Pulau Bidong. A good number of us escaped Vietnam alone. This surely contributed love always being in the air on this little island.

“Ngày mai em đi, biển nhớ tên em gọi về gọi hồn liễu rũ lê thê gọi bờ cát trắng hoang vu…”

During the first mornings, I cried a lot whenever I woke up. Beside my cousin, everyone else was stranger but they gave me a lot of comfort. I remember my first month living on the second floor of the B1 building. My bed was a hammock because there were people stretched across the floor. They were sleeping so close to each other that they could not stretch their arms or legs sideways. Of course there was no air conditioning or other luxurious comforts.

I was 14 when I first arrived. There was a girl about my age who stayed in the opposite building, about 30 feet away from B1. I think her building was B2. She also slept on a hammock. Her skin was dark, her eyes were round and big, and her hair was short.

She was very beautiful. I saw her cooking, washing dishes and clothes, and getting water from the well every day. The well had little water but she was able to get a lot more from it than I could. Her hands were strong. We were pulling more than 20 feet of cable for each 1/2 gallon of water and sometimes we were pulling up 5 gallons of water if it was a rainy day.

Her last name was Quách.

We had a crush on each other but never talked to each other while I was in B1. Eventually I moved to F 9 building.

What was this crush anyway? Well, almost every night, while everyone was sleeping and the island died down, we would exchange longing stares for as long as we could or until we fell into deep sleep. Yeah, I remember those beautiful nights and the feeling of love on Pulau Bidong. Some day, the sky was clear, the stars looked so close that I felt I could touch them. On the rainy night, we stared through the dropping rain drops.