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Saturday, May 16, 2020

Linn


written & illustrated by Chakriya PHOU

There was a family. There were father, mother and four children. They lived by the sea.
One day, the village was flooded and they escaped on boat.
The boat floated in sea many days. Their boat was small, it could not carry many. The parents threw unnecessary things into the sea. Boat could travel few more days.
Still, it could not carry on and about to sink.
In dark night, when children were in sleep, the parents discussed.
'We have to throw one of our children or all of us will die.' Father said.
'Which child?' Mother said.
They looked at their children.

Actually, they did not want, but they had no choice.
At last, the parents decided to throw Linn into the sea for she was the eldest. She weighted more than other kids. Without her, boat would be lighter. Furthermore, she was able to take care of herself - she was 8 years old, her younger brother was 6 years old, her another younger brother was 5 years old and her youngest sister was 3 years old - they thought, if she was lucky enough, she might able to survive herself.
After discussion, the parents put Linn into the pot then floated her into the sea. Linn was in deep sleep, she did not realize anything.
As the sun shined, she woke up and found herself in pot, in middle of the sea.
She cried for her parents. She cried for her brothers and sister. No reply. Only sound of sea and wind.
Linn cried hard. She was scared. She was nervous. What should she do in this big sea? She sat crying tears in the pot. She asked herself why her parents did this to her. After few hours, she seemed calm down. She could feel that her parents had no choice but to abandon her to survive her brothers and sister. She wiped her tears and wished her family well. She would follow her destiny.
Linn stayed in pot, floating in the sea, days and nights.
She was hungry. She was thirsty.
Sea water was salty. It was difficult to drink, but she was really thirsty so she put her hand into water and took some to her mouth. 
Then she saw a fish swimming back and forth under her pot. Close to her pot. Linn swallowed saliva. Her stomach cried. She dreamt of grilled fish that her parents had made for her when they were in the village.
Hunger made she laid herself into water to catch fish. That fish was fast. It escaped and Linn, unfortunately, fell into the sea.
Linn was nervous and scared. She did not know how to swim. She tried to kick water, but her face kept drowning. She thought that she was going to die. She thought it was truly her last. She held her breath, closed her eyes and thought of faces of her family for last time. Suddenly, she felt her body was light and it came out for water till her head showed up from water. Then Linn's head touched her pot. Linn opened eyes and quickly grabbed mouth of pot and raised herself up into the pot. It was incredible, she was survived. It was great.
Linn thought of last moment. She reminded of what she did when she was drowning. Linn looked at the sea. She wanted to test of what she thought in mind. Then she put herself slowly into the sea. She held her breath. Great. She floated. She grabbed the pot with happy face.
'Yes, even I don't know swimming, but I can learn how to float.'
After that moment, she learnt how to hold breath. First she could hold just few seconds. She worked hard then she could hold breath longer. The fish still came back under her pot. And Linn succeeded catch it. She was glad to have food. Still, how could she eat it raw?
At that time, Linn remembered her mother had taught her cooking while they were in village. She instructed Linn to make salty fish. Put salt on fish and kept it. Well, even though she had no salt. What should she do?
Linn looked at the sun and the sea. She reminded of her father told her that sea became salt when it dried.
'Hmm,' Linn said, 'I don't have salt or cooker, but I can create based on what I have around.'
Linn put fish in pot until it died. Luckily, the fish had no scale so she tore its flesh - meat with skin - in pieces. Next, she dipped sea water to pour on piece of fish meat she wanted to eat. She poured many times and raised the flesh to the sun light. The meat was still raw, but at least, it could be eaten.
Linn just ate few pieces. She kept other under sun light and she did not forget pour sea water on the meat. 
She kept doing this while she was in the sea.
That one fish could survive her a month.
It was lucky. She met a ship and they rescued her. She was taken to an island.
Linn walked as she did not know where to go. She walked into market and stopped in front of a table, selling cloth. The owner was an old lady.
'Pretty cloth. Cheap price. Please come.' She called, but no anyone bought even looked.
After see that, Linn found an idea. She looked around and found lady with fine cloth. She walked to her and said, 'Madame, please help buying from my mother.'
The lady was generous. She smiled and asked Linn, 'Where is your mother?'
'She is over there. She sells cloth.' Linn pointed to table of the old lady.
The rich lady went to the old lady said, 'You got good daughter.' Then she bough cloth.
The old lady was happy and called Linn.
'Where are you from? And your parents?'
Linn told everything to the lady. The old lady was sorry hearing her story. She accepted her as her god daughter.
Linn was glad. She thanked the old lady and stayed with her, helping her selling cloth.
The old lady loved her as her own child. Linn was good girl. She loved the old lady too. She helped her housework, she helped her selling.
Linn helped her god mother increasing her business. Old lady business became better and better then she saved money to buy a small store. 
Linn was smart. She worked in store at day; at night she studied alphabet. Soon, she could read and write.
10 years after, the old lady was aged and then passed away. Linn inherited house and store from her god mother. She worked hard and her business was good.
One evening, Linn closed the store and walked home. On the way, she met her parents and her bothers and sister. She recognized them. They were begging food on street. Linn ran to her family. She hugged them. The parents were surprised. They had thought she was dead, they never thought they could meet her again.
Linn brought her parents and brothers-sister to house. It was surprise and happiness for the family. Linns' parents apologized they had thrown her to the sea. Well, it was really sad when thought about that memory. It was sorrow for Linn. But she had to pretend she was fine and forgot it. She understood her parents and she wanted to forget and lived with them happily from today. She hoped she could forget it. Really.
The family reunited and lived happily.
Linn still ran her cloth store. Her second brother helped her working in store. Her third brother worked in factory and her youngest sister stayed home with parents.
Few years later, her second brother got married and brought his wife to live with. Her brother wanted to buy house for his family, but he did not have money and his sister had less money.
There was a man. He was business man on the island. He was kind and he was rich. He was little bit older, but he was single. He was regular customer of Linn store. He had feeling on Linn. He proposed to Linn.
Linn did not respond.
Her brother knew it. He told the family and demanded his parents to tell Linn to agree to his proposal. He described that, 'He is gentle. He is kind. He loves sister. If she marries with him, she will live in happiness.' 
He showed like he cared about his sister, but his mind thought if she got married with that guy, the family would be rich and then he could ask a house from his brother-in-law.
The third son added, 'I have heard people saying that he is good man. Sister will be luckiest woman if she get married with him.'
Also, third brother thought he would get a fancy dress then he could go out to flirt girls.
Only youngest daughter did not say anything. She wanted to express that should let sister decided but she did not dare to say and she knew that even thought no one listened to her so it was better to keep quiet.
The parents believed the sons. They went to Linn and urged her to agree with his proposal.
Linn responded nothing.
Day after, she went to meet with the business man and said, 'I'm so sorry, Sir. I cannot accept your proposal.'
The business man was not angry. He accepted smilingly. He was still her customer.
Her family knew and kept silent.
One year after, Linn's sister-in-law got pregnant. Her brother thought of his kid. He wanted to have house to have room for his kid for the house was small. But he did not say anything.
The third brother fell in love with a girl and wanted to buy diamond right for her, but he did not tell anyone.
Then a ship from town arrived at the island. The captain of the ship was a young talent and handsome man. He was also rich. He parked his ship for tourists to take tour for few days. Then he toured himself in the market. He met Linn and he liked her. He came to ask Linn to marry with him.
Again, second brother tried to convince his parents to force his sister to get married. He said she was old that she should hurry up to marry. In his mind, he dreamt of house to live with his wife and kid after was born.
Third brother also got his parents to make his sister married for he thought to get money from his rich brother in law to buy ring for his girl.
Still, youngest sister kept silent.
The parents went to see Linn and said like her brothers told them to.
Linn did not say anything. She kept quiet and did her work.
The ship would leave the island soon. 
Two brothers forced their parents to talk to Linn or she would lose chance if the ship left. The parents followed their sons. They talked with Linn, but Linn did not give any response.
It was time for the ship to leave.
The brothers were so hopeless. They sat quietly and sad in their rooms.
In the morning, the family was surprised. Linn was not at home. She left, remained letter to the family. She wrote that she left house to her parents, and store to whole family and her brother replaced her seat. She gave her room to her second brother then he could have room for his kid. She kept money to her third brother then he could buy ring for his girl. And her sister, she gave her diary that she wrote down what she had met since when she had thrown to the sea, how she survived until she reunited with them. At last, she hoped all three of them would look after parents and family well.
Linn left and did not take anything even money, only pot with her - the pot she had stayed in the sea and that she had kept since she was rescued. 
Where did she go with that pot? 
No one know. Even me.

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