His sordid truth

I was promised to him and got married when I was seven back in Vietnam. He was pensive and moral but has changed since arriving in Australia.

I was promised to him and got married when I was seven back in Vietnam. He was pensive and moral but has changed since arriving in Australia.

Comments about this post on ABC Open 500 words – Heartbreak!

I was promised to him before I was born. Back in Vietnam when I was seven, dressed in a long, loose, blue-grey robe, I was guided to make pledges to obey his family’s rules and live a good, model life. At the end of the ceremony to accept me into his family, I was given the Buddhist name ‘Diệu Hiền’ , which meant gentle and meek.

I fell in love with him for I was attracted to him by his pensive and moral characteristics. On full moons, he would invite me over and cook delicious vegetarian meals for me. The smell of sandalwood incense, the smile of the Buddha statue looking down at us, the chanting of Buddhist prayers, the echo of the Buddhist bell, these things filled the air with solemn yet romantic feelings.

At the threshold between the old and new year, when the clock stroked at midnight and the firecrackers exploded noisily in trains, I stood with him among the mass of people. Looking up into the sky of the thick dark night, we prayed to Buddha for a new prosperous, healthy and happy new year. But wait there’s more!

The shame chair

There was a 'shame chair' in the house that I would share with other Vietnamese refugee girls. Blueberry was tied to the chair for hours...

There was a ‘shame chair’ in the house that I would share with other Vietnamese refugee girls. Blueberry was tied to the chair for hours…

Comments about this post on ABC Open 500 words – My big secret.

I never told my friends out of shame that two men had cowardly tricked me and I narrowly escaped ‘the shame chair’ in the house I shared with other Vietnamese refugee girls. To the girls in the house, they still believed that I harboured a secret of what happended that night. But wait there’s more!

The punishment pills

Sister Night threatened to kick both Turquoise and me out if we didn't go to see a 'Doctor' with her.

Sister Night threatened to kick both Turquoise and me out if we didn’t go to see a ‘Doctor’ with her.

Comments about this post on ABC Open 500 words – My big secret.

I never told Mum and Dad and so they happily thought that I was well cared for by Sister Night; until now, it remained my biggest secret. But wait there’s more!

The serious hands of a clergy

His eyes beamed over me like spotlights, he cracked a lascivious grin and his hand grabbed my breast.

His eyes beamed over me like spotlights, he cracked a lascivious grin and his hand grabbed my breast.

Comments about this post on ABC 500 words – A test of courage.

I met Sister Night, and soon after became her favourite girl. After Father Fatty gave me a private catechism lesson, he chose Sister Night to be my godmother and I was baptised.

As study became harder as the course went on, I couldn’t find time to go out or talk with Sister anymore. I wasn’t concerned then as I thought Sister needed time for the new refugee girls; I wasn’t very sensitive to Sister Night’s maternal need of feeling needed and loved, so Sister began verbally and psychologically bullying me. When I stood up for myself, she told me to move out. I begged a priest who frequented the house to find me accommodation and thus I left the communal house to live at the residence of a Catholic order. But wait there’s more!

The convent

Things may have turned out differently had I was given my own safe space when I arrived in Australia as a refugee.

Things may have turned out differently had I was given my own safe space when I arrived in Australia as a refugee.

Comments about this post on ABC Open DRUM – Living alone.

April 1984, I arrived in Australia and stayed at Enterprise Hostel, Springvale in Melbourne. A week later, a religious Sister took me home to a six-bedroom Burwood parish house that accommodated thirteen Catholic Vietnamese refugees and me – a Buddhist. But wait there’s more!

How I met her

I was a Catholic convert and she was my godmother. But her behaviour became that of a parent jealous of losing a child's love.

I was a Catholic convert and she was my godmother. But her behaviour became that of a parent jealous of losing a child’s love.

Comments about this post on ABC Open 500 words – How we met.

April 1984, I arrived in Australia and stayed at Enterprise Hostel, Springvale in Melbourne. A week later, a religious Sister took me home – a six-bedroom Burwood-parish house that accommodated thirteen Catholic Vietnamese refugees and me – a Buddhist. But wait there’s more!