Anh ơi – poem

Anh ơi! Why you do this to me?

Anh ơi! I don’t want…

Anh ơi?

Chị? Older sister, don’t make me do this

Chị! Where are you? Why am I here?

Please get me out of here Mama San

I didn’t know.

You already have so much and..

I won’t tell, promise!

My skin is tired, and I’m sore and…

okay, I’ll stop complaining I’m sorry

Can’t I just sleep today?

Yes. Yes, I’m sorry that I asked, I had no right, only

you are right.

I forget sometimes

[just like I forgot my name]

If I were less lost, I wouldn’t ask,

but, anh, Mama-San is so mean and

you’re the only one I can talk to

Yes. I’m sorry, I’ll shut up now and open my legs to you

You’re leaving, already?

[Get me out!]

You’re right, it was wrong of me to ask.

This poem was writen while I read the book “Sex Slaves; the trafficking of women in Asia” which talks about sex traficking in Asia. At the time when I started the book, I was in Hanoi with a friend who had lived there for a year, and he was teaching me a few simple manners of addressing people;

anh – for an older male (though still younger than your parents)

chị – for an older female (though still younger than your parents)

ơi – could be added on the end of these appelations; a kind of “hey!”

Jannis (the friend) allowed me to meet Chi, a beautiful Vietnamese friend of his, with a clear, dimply smile and a lot of (slightly reserved, playful) affection.

The girl on the cover of the book looked like her; it drove me crazy when I realised that.

The poem burst out, when I remembered her mocking way of saying “Anh ơi!” to Jannis, and as the voicelessness of the women dragged into the sex trafficking business became clearer and clearer. Loss of right to speak, loss of credibilty, loss of name, identity or even (ironically) right to emotional attachments.

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