It is easier to act in a play than fake liking ‘them’! To me acting is genuinely living as the character, thinking and reacting as if I was them. When my facial muscles want to contract, my hands shake and my heart beats faster and louder, I find it is actually harder to betray my body, my feelings and put on a happy face in front of ‘them’.
I often wonder, “Why did you have to marry into my circle, so for the group’s sake, I have to keep the relationships in harmony?” Then I remember the time my father was incarcerated in the torturous communist jail, the maltreatment the Communist gave my family and my deadly escape from Vietnam.
Passing through the threshold of the door, I felt relieved that I had held my façade, successfully giving a strong handshake and a warm smile to ‘him’. He migrated here under the sponsorship of his sister.
I smiled gracefully at the introduction of his relative from an Asian communist country, who had studied in an Australian university before and now was in the process of transferring money from his homeland to set up a business so he can stay permanently here under the Business Owner Visa scheme. His relative’s father was so rich, he hosted wedding parties for his son in two cities abroad while also paying airfares for all the wedding guests. Was the fortune of his relative’s family built honestly or did it perhaps came from connections with the totalitarian communist regime? Would he tell me the ‘ugly’ truth?
I managed to beam and complimented the appearance and style of his sister. Having had an especially professional career in her state, she stayed here after finishing her Australian university’s scholarship in the early 90s. Was it correct that her parents were normal workers and she must have been a talented and intelligent woman who won the most coveted grant in her densely populous and highly corrupt nation? How did she make her living in a lowly administrative job now? How can her retired, communist-era-working parents be able to gift their overseas children tens of thousand of Australian dollars?
I nodded at a taciturn, furtive man in his 20s sitting in a corner. He came here from Vietnam for a privately financed, post-graduate study and planned to find a job and stay here permanently afterwards. His sister was able to find a job as a tour guide in a state-owned Vietnamese tourist travel service, because her father was in the communist North Vietnamese Army at the time of Saigon Fall. She met her husband, a Vietnamese-Australian who was a refugee, on a Vietnam tour. After her arrival in Australia, there was a family financial crisis followed with heartbreaking events and emotional upheavals that brought doubt to her attachment to the husband. How high-ranking was his father? Was the house his family occupied after Saigon Fall in the South Vietnam forfeited from a bourgeoisie, or from a former Saigon regime’s officer? How did his mother become rich enough to afford his overseas study just by being a seller in a market?
The party was over, so was all the pretension. I had managed to hold composure in appearing as a friendly member of the group. I quickly shut off my mind from the emotionally draining faces I met there. I hope it will be a long time before I will see them again. I hope my mind will never ever wander to think of them in the future; the inauthentic people and vacant smiles are only a drain on me.
In the social twilight
I do have a secret fright
That people go underground
With their communist background,
With their hugely, filthy wealth,
So to migrate here by stealth.
by JD Hancock.