I could not bring myself to say

Monday, October 7, 2013
Hoa Pham

Want to know what the participants of the 2013 Writers Victoria mentorship program for writers from non-English speaking backgrounds, have been working on? Here’s a sneak preview from Hoa Pham…

"The sound of a moped cut into the quiet of the dawn.

Pulling up at the site was the brown robed abbot and a novice robed in grey. The novice was holding on to ceramic pots precariously bundled together for the remains of the bones. I bowed to the abbot who smiled at me and Bac Phuc.

“Thank you for coming,” he said to us gently, “These disturbed souls have been troubling us greatly. We have been waiting for you.”

The novice set up incense on a little mound away from the pit. “I can assist you in finding the descendants of these men and women if they are from around here.”

The workmen holding small hand shovels bowed to the abbot then jumped into the pit.

Too soon I was presented with a shovel of mud and earth from which poked out shards of bone. I took off my gloves and gingerly reached out to touch the protruding bone.

I screamed. A bolt of pain lanced through my insides.

Then wailing. She had been abandoned, defiled, and murdered. Her family could not find her. They offered outdoor offerings to the lost souls but could not honour her at the altar.

“She lived in the village not far from here. She was killed by Americans.” I could not bring myself to say what happened to her."

About Hoa

After working on her manuscript with WV mentor Maria Tumarkin, Hoa published the book as 'The Other Shore'.