Bitten Tongues

After watching  Anh Hung Tran's 90s beauties  Scent of the Green Papaya and Cyclo and after finishing The Sympathiser by Viet Thanh Nguyen, I was inspired to gather and show my own images of Vietnam, though I am not sure what story to tell. My own time there was splendid at times and dark at others. In 2011 and 2012 I was in my mid-twenties trying to balance love and adulthood: an eye-opening and exhausting own unique  turmoil seen through my own grime-tinted lenses. 

 With few people like myself around, I was turned away at the door of some places, and allowed access with tepid curiosity at others.  I have never returned and have no wish to anytime soon as anyway, I wonder if the people I called friends remain, and if I was ever anything  more than an acquaintance to them.  What's more- and this the straw that broke the camel's back for me- Vietnam had become an unregulated paradise for western mediocrity and white privilege North to South. I always had to try harder and be better, my skin and origins afforded me no benefit of the doubt whether or not I deserved it. By the end, I felt that I was a quiet stranger looking in, and that my time there was done. Tra da, Vietnamese ice-tea available everywhere at no charge served to wash away the slight, constant trace of blood in the mouth. A shallow pooling of everything left unspoken. By them and by me.

Compiled 2020

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     Kwena K. Chokoe
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