Michelle Lam

Australia

Young 18 yr old aspiring screen writer.
Loves basketball, travelling and spending time with loved ones.
Passionate about telling stories that matter / gives voice to others.
Please don't hesitate to give feedback or constructive criticism :)

Message to Readers

Any constructive criticisms very appreciated <3

The Treasure Hunt

June 20, 2017

PROMPT: Dual Existence

1

GROUP: True Stories

You know those nursery rhymes that you sing when you are little, unaware of the meaning behind the words? Rhymes like Ring o' Ring o' Rosies, and Mary, Mary Quite Contrary - even Jack and Jill. It's until you look years later and pay actual attention to the lyrics that a whole new world opens up to you. 

A fascinating, but haunting world.

That was me with my dad's jokes. He used to talk about this particular memory he had when he was still a mechanical engineering uni student in Vietnam, after the war but before the purge. After the Viet Cong won, a lot of the upper class rich Vietnamese or anyone linked to the Republic escaped Vietnam due to fear of persecution. Dad was from one of those former upper class Vietnamese families so he had a bit more time before escaping. This story was one of my favourites because I used to think it was so funny, and dad would laugh heartily whilst telling it too.

He was a young, albeit melancholic lad of 18, and as part of their curriculum, all the students from his uni were required to participate in an outdoor camp. They were nestled in between the mountains and the fields, everything seemingly picturesque.
"It was horrible. The toilet was a hole in the ground, one of my mates fell in - haha - and he stunk like shit."
I giggled. 
Every day at the crack of dawn they would get up and participate in this 'treasure hunt', where the person who found the most treasures won the grand prize: $200 USD. Now back in the 1970s, that was a lot - especially to a young Vietnamese boy.
Dad had this friend, Nick (not his real name but we'll live with it) and he was an easily excitable guy. He came from a lower class background so the money signs practically flashed in his eyes.
So the day it was Nick's shift, he picked up his metal detector and ran into the field brazenly whilst the rest of them took tentative, careful steps.

Then suddenly he stopped.

Everyone froze. Watching him. Waiting to see what will happen.

He was trembling all over, like a bamboo leaf in the middle of a typhoon. If you looked close you could see his face draining of all colour and his eyes beginning to water.

His foot was stuck on an old metallic lump - one that looked chillingly familiar to any survivor of the war. 

Unexploded ordinance.

Luckily, the bomb was old and didn't activate, so Nick got off scot-free with only pissing his pants. Dad roared with laughter recalling Nick's face and his soaked trousers. 

Looking back, I realised how twisted this kind of humour was, but I understood why he had to laugh. Even now, although I can't laugh as freely or as innocently as I did when I was 7, I still laugh just because dad needs me to laugh. It's just like one of those nursery rhymes - my personal Ring o' Rosies.
This is a true story, on behalf of my dad who was a Vietnamese 'refugee', technically he came over legally (by airplane and visa) but he was the only one from his family to do so. The rest of them had traveled via boat and went through the whole experience. They live with us now, happy and safe (Bless), growing up I had listened to various stories about their journey. I hope this touches something in you, because it touched me.

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