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Nov 12, 2013

We're all a little more strange than we care to admit


Nov 12, 2013

We're all a little more strange than we care to admit
Half the Battle (586 words)
(translated from Burmese)

500 Thai Baht is what people pay to see me go about my daily business. Some say that it is dehumanizing. It is looked down upon in any context for humans to gawk at other humans. I say it’s good money.

I hear the whisper of the word “neck” as a little American girl points to the gleaming gold bands that encompass mine. Her eyes linger on these rings that have elongated my neck since childhood, but her glance soon strays to my embellished clothing. Wisps of turquoise and opal hug my curves and wrap themselves around my figure. She seems to decide that I am a thing of beauty, even if I still remain a “thing” rather than a human to her.

“Hello” she says to me, her eyes now focusing on my face rather than the satiny fabric that I and my nineteen fellow captives must wash tonight.

“Hi, small one” I answer in broken English.

The ones who stop to talk to me are usually the most annoying - always speaking too loud, thinking that greater volume equals greater comprehension. They all ask the same thing: “does that hurt?” which is one English phrase I have come to know well. They point their finger at their own neck and mime choking. Most of the time, I just laugh and shake my head. That usually ends the conversation.

She shyly edges a bit closer to me and asks a question I don’t understand. I look at her and smile, but this does not satisfy her. With more gusto, she repeats the question one word at a time, dramatically acting out each separate thought. I get it now: “Why do you stay here?” As her voice carries to the other tourists, her mother quickly grabs her hand and ushers her away.

Of course, I know why I stay here. I stay for the money. I stay for the easy living. I would stay even if I wasn’t forced to. But one look at my older companions who remember what home was like and I know they don’t share my feelings. Their glassy eyes reveal a past where they were not freaks of nature to be ogled at like monkeys in a zoo. Once upon a time, they were free to live out their dreams, unhindered by the chains of society. They could find love. They could travel. Their future had not yet been decided by greedy money-makers who sought to keep the flow of tourists steady. Their lives are pretty much over now. This is how they live and this is how they will die.

Once, unaware of my plight, I mistook it for a blessing. But a caged animal, regardless of how much food he is given, is still caged. Now I see with clear eyes. My vision is so sharp that it stings me and causes tears to stream down my flaming red cheeks. The idea of our lives being wasted for the sake of money floods my mind as I let out a primal roar.

The little girl stops in her tracks. She turns to me with knowing eyes.

“I’m sorry” she says.

As if that is enough to calm my troubled mind.

A seed of regret and knowledge is planted in all who hear her apology, but none have the courage to rectify the wrong. I simply laugh and call it a day as I walk back to my hut.

For 500 Thai Baht, you can see the ignorance of society.

sicklysweet45 fucked around with this message at 01:59 on Nov 15, 2013

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