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Tuesday, February 2, 2016


              Mei Lin woke up on a Friday morning with dread. Already her chest was heavy with deep breathing. Just as suddenly, she remembered instantly it was her 12th birthday and all the more she had a panicky beating in her heart. Every young girl would anticipate her birthday with longing but Mei Lin would like to push the time backwards and be a pure little girl once again. 
             Over the past year, Mei Lin has been experiencing severe gnashing and nagging from her disciplinarian mother. Half-Vietnamese and half-Australian, Mei Lin was born to inter racial parents-her doting cheeky mother Sui Mun and her very understanding Aussie father Raymond. 

             The three of them have managed to survive the trials and challenges of a queer marriage and unique parenting styles. 

             And on this day, her 12th birthday, the loving but misunderstood couple have promised to give Mei Lin her best birthday present ever. 
            Mei Lin felt a mixture of consternation and amazement upon the surprising object before her. 

             "A vase? What would I do with a vase? " Mei Lin almost shrieked, wiping the sweat on her forehead. 

            "Oh honey, i's not a vase, it's a pottery." Mr. Jenkins explained, half-smiling. 

           "But dad, you know very well I hate gardening and I'm not fond of flowers." 

           "We know sweetie," Sui Mun interrupted. "Your father and I really enjoyed our vacation in Hoi An Vietnam recently. And there was this cash strapped vendor in 
Thanh Ha Pottery Village that offered us a really special pottery for a bargain price. "

           Mei Lin sneered. She has worn this despicable sneer since she was 10. "So what would I do with an ancient pottery?".

           Mr. Jenkins guided his daughter to the doorstep. "You can either display it over here, right beside the door or next to your bed, whatever." 



           Over the next few weeks since Mei Lin took over the possession of the red pottery,  she has been grueling with some bizarre dream sequences when she went to sleep. In her lucid dreams, she is brought to this queer village with rows and rows of houses. And a throng of erstwhile villagers are surrounding a ceremony of some sorts she could not clearly see. 

           Many times, she would open her eyes, unsure whether she was still living in reality or fantasy. She actually thought at one point that she was floating in the air...

           Then one day, as she stared so hard at the red pottery, a thick smoke began to swirl outside it and it crept to the sides of her bed. 

          Nausea enveloped Mei Lin and she was about to collapse for good when stern hands grabbed her upper hand. 

          "Do not be afraid." The voice hailed. 

          And the thick smoke morphed into a figure of a dainty lady, also wrapped up in a red attire. She looked so charming...but how could that be? 

         A swirling smoke and then a lady in red. She must be crazy!

         "Who are you? Where do you come from? What do you want from me?" Mei Lin started to distance herself from the forlorn figure. 

         "I was sacrificed by our village in exchange for power and influence over other villages." The lady said in a soft whispery voice. "I was 12 when they threw me into the sacrificial den."

          "But why did they choose you?" 

         "My family was noble. So our blood was a fitting offer." 

          Mei Lin could not fathom that she was really talking to this lunatic being." 

         "I came here to warn you. Your days are numbered. They will come after you next." 


         Sui Mun was looking for her daughter all day. She regretted that she nagged her incessantly the past few days over her lunchbox, her litter box and her unkempt dresser. Sometimes she wished she could be more docile toward her offspring.But back when she was little in her Vietnamese home, she underwent the same rigid training from her ardent parents. They always told her what to do and when to do it. They never gave her her voice. 

        "Mei Lin, Mei Lin, where are you?" Sui Mun quivered. "Oh I'm so sorry honey for all my blabberings." 

         Two days have rightfully passed by. Mr. and Mrs. Jenkins decided to report their missing daughter to the police.


        Two police officers dropped by 563 Tolson Avenue. One of them got a small notebook and began the inquiry. 

         Sui Mun was crying vehemently. "Maybe she was so mad at me. She tried to escape and sleep over in her one of her friend's house." 

         "Hush, hush, "Mr. Jenkins tapped his wife gently at her back. 

         "Is this her picture? " The other officer peeked thoroughly at the photo frame. 

        "Yes, she is a very high spirited girl. She just turned twelve." 

         Huge pearls of sweat were splashed all over his face. "Are you sure?"  This time he looked as pale as anyone could imagine. 

         Sui Mun's head jerked up. "But why officer?".

         "Her body lies at the morgue. Her throat is slit...and from the looks of it, she was carnaged like a sacrificial lamb in a ritual."

         "A ritual?" Mr. Jenkins shook his head in disbelief.

         The first officer finally spoke up." We have some Vietnamese immigrants who practise this sort of thing underground. It's like a pact for a deal of financial abundance and strength. And there were broken pieces of a red pottery all over the ritual site. "


         And in a sudden pour of memory, Sui Mun recalled the village that the vendor told her she had lived-it was called Ba Be. And she uttered something like "a cursed pottery that needs to be freed..." 


        And Mei Lin was finally freed. She agreed to live in a forever seclusion in a never heard of paradise where she can sing with the birds and hop on a grassy land...if she lent her soul to the red lady in distress. 

         The rigorous  nagging from her mother would stop.

         And the red lady would again have a taste of earthly pleasures, far away from the pain of her past. 

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