She can’t breathe

“I love the sound of the rain”, I said, “I love being inside and watching it rain. It makes me feel like wearing big jumpers, reading good books and watching films.”

“The rain makes me sad, it makes me remember.” She said.

“What does it make you remember?” I asked.

“It makes me remember my childhood. When the rainy season started we would run into the roads and play in the rivers. It also makes me remember my first love.”

In the midst of an animated Vietnamese lesson with one of my favorite teachers, her words felt heavy with nostalgia. They were tinged with both sadness and softness.

“Let’s go outside and play in the rain, cô. If you want to go, I’ll come with you!”

“No, I’m too old for that. I think that I’d get sick now! You can do those sorts of things when you’re a child, but not when you’re older.”

I hope that one day she’ll play in the rain once more.

“What happened with your first love?” I asked tentatively.

“We were engaged. We were meant to get married when we graduated university, but we lived too far apart.”

She said this and then looked out of the window for a few moments, lost in her remembering; her face vacant and her eyes ablaze as she walked through her memories.

“I really loved him.”

“Do you ever talk to him?” I asked

“I used to, but then my husband destroyed my old sim card and bought me a new phone and sim card so that I wouldn’t be able to have any contact with him.”

Silence.

“My husband really takes care of me. But sometimes he takes care of me so much that it makes me tired.”

“How does he take care of you, cô?

She smiled, and giggled happily, “He cleans the house, cooks me food and helps to look after our son…”

“What else does he do?”

She cast her eyes down, and then looked me straight in the eye.

“He watches me when I walk.”

“What do you mean?” I asked, with a number of possible answers running through my mind.

“He put something on my phone that watches me wherever I go. There is a map on his phone that shows him exactly where I am. Every time that I move about or even take a step, he can see. I hate it. I don’t know how he did it or where it is but I don’t want it. It makes me so tired. It makes me feel like I can’t breathe.”

I wanted my teacher and friend to feel like she could breathe. The above dialogue that I noted down is my attempt at a metaphorical mouth to mouth, the framing of an intimate conversation so that I and others might be inspired to make some small change.

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