Monday, July 20, 2015

EXPANDING HIS VISION (C)

[This story is an improved version from mini cassette recordings of Mekkar’s actual voice in 1990 while hiking and walking as a University student; then, it was converted to a Windows Media Audio File and transcribed in 2011. Mekkar’s spoken English skills are nowhere near as polished as Saavo’s are. Continued from the first PART (B) in July, 2015.]

The two of them left the scene and scurried back to their hotel on foot. Soon afterward, Henrik arrived back from his meeting. Well, Mekkar assumed that his father came straight back from the important appointment. However, the boy did wonder why it was so long considering the events that recently had taken place. Mekkar’s questioning was never voiced because he trusted his papa. Eva was very stoic, as was her normal disposition, and unlike her vocal exhortations during the explosions earlier in the day.
 
Early the next morning, Mekkar, Henrik, and Eva left their temporary quarters while being escorted by armed solders in a small convoy to the airport. They went through all of the many checkpoints with no hassles. Along the way, the Arctic youngster thought to himself - that his papa must know some important people in this place. From Saigon, they boarded a commercial jet and flew non-stop to Bangkok, Thailand. When they were out of range of the fighting on the ground below, Mekkar finally breathed a sigh of relief. After their arrival in the Thailandese capital, the wait for their connecting flight out was long. Mekkar became irritable, restless, and uncomfortable while stuck in the airport. On the occasions when he did not take naps, Mekkar noticed the harried and crowded environment. In and around the airport was quite similar to where they had left. The major difference he observed was the lack of large number of troops everywhere. This one factor provided some solace to Mekkar as he grew more impatient.

A few people were bold enough to approach and discuss with Henrik and his secretary regarding their situation. Some would pat Mekkar on the top of his head or rub it, in front of them, and boy did he hate that. Others would ask the adults to describe what transpired in the war zone of Saigon. Many were stranded while waiting to leave Bangkok. Mekkar was too young and didn’t understand the concept of delayed flights and what that entailed. Well, for now at least. During this time period, Henrik left Eva and his son at the airport for another business engagement. Mekkar’s papa assured the boy that he would return in plenty of time for the next journey on their itinerary. Mekkar believed him, yet still missed his papa and felt assured that he was going to see him again soon. Mekkar just figured that the next trip would be a return back home. Contrary to the impression Mekkar had, this was not to be the case. Henrik had more adventure in mind for his son.

After what seemed to take forever, Eva and Mekkar saw his papa rush and arrive out of breath to meet them again. Approximately ten minutes later the overhead speaker blared out the correct flight information and passenger loading gate number. Mekkar was still in the dark regarding the next stop. If Eva knew, she wasn’t telling the boy anything about it while all three of their small group proceeded to the proper boarding location. The next flight immediately became a very rocky adventure, soon after takeoff, in the commuter plane. One time, Mekkar looked out the window where he was sitting, then pulled the window covering down quickly. He didn’t like what he saw outside. Since the plane’s elevation appeared to lower below the clouds than he was used to, Mekkar thought he saw small objects on the ground as they reached the next city of their expedition. It was quite obvious to anyone who had military training that some of those popping sounds outside the aircraft sounded like anti-aircraft gun fire rounds. The little Arctic Warrior had questions that couldn’t be answered such as why would anyone be shooting at us?

All of the passengers and crew could hear the rumbling of explosions that were taking place which grew louder upon their arrival. The boy was lost and had no idea where he was, the only thing he could do was trust his papa’s judgement. Mekkar voiced his concerns to his papa sitting next to him. The son asked, “Why are we are getting closer to the military action again?” The dangerous environment was obvious even to a young person such as Mekkar as the activity was more frequent. Henrik told them, “Hang on because it is going to be a bumpy ride before they land.” When Mekkar looked at Eva, he saw her apprehension and concluded that something was definitely not right. Mekkar’s mind raced and he didn’t know how to stop it. The boy thought to himself – here we go again. The last part of this flight circled a few times while the boy from the Far North was stricken by inner turbulence. It was almost with a sense of comfort when the flight touched down on the landing strip in Hanoi.

The three of them rode a shuttle near the center of the city. Henrik explained to his son while they motored together. Thus was exactly what Henrik wanted him to see. Both sides of the conflict from two different viewpoints. Henrik wanted to drive the point home that war is hell and it is not a pretty sight. The lesson that his papa wanted Mekkar to learn was that many things are not as they seem in the media and very divergent from real life. Additionally, the intention was for Mekkar not to lose his compassion for others due to becoming desensitized as a result. Suddenly, Henrik had to go to a separate area for another briefing. It was just the two of them now in an unfamiliar city.

Then, a stranger to Mekkar approached Eva and gave her some local currency. Mekkar never did figure out why. The boy began to have directed conclusions that his papa arranged everything and had it taken care of. Mekkar glanced at Eva and she looked more relaxed than on the plane. He figured that his brain was telling him that some rest was in order after the recent tense experiences. Mekkar let it slip out loud from his lips, “Where is this unlimited energy that all children are presumed to have because it was non existent right now”. Eva reassured him and tracked down the next mode of transportation. They gave the driver money and off they went back out of the main part of the capital city. The youngster didn’t recognize this type of transportation vehicle and thought it was distinct, but cool. At first, Mekkar thought it was a motorcycle, but it really wasn’t. The transport was similar to a bike where you have the peddler guide in front and the passengers sit in the back. The closest object Mekkar could compare it to a desert three wheeler machine. On the other hand, since the mode of transport was not motorized like a snowmobile back home, Mekkar thought it looked real flimsy and not sturdy at all. He compared the vehicle’s construction to the paper machete kites he saw previously. The Arctic lad squirmed and was not comfortable during the ride either. Still, he hoped this vehicle could take him where he needed to go, despite not knowing where they were being led. At least, the both of them were away from the utter confusion they had witnessed down south. The boy from the Arctic knew that he was special and extremely intelligent for someone his age. The problem was the youngster was not as smart as he thought was and was in unfamiliar territory to boot. Mekkar would soon find out that he was sorely mistaken in his assumptions and more would be in store for each one of them.

Their destination took on a lonely path some distance to the city. Mekkar missing his papa and was hoping to see him again. They youngster had that inner sense that he was going to reunite with Henrik at the end of this jaunt. About 5 minutes after disembarking from the transport and seeing his papa, the air raid sirens blared to warn the surrounding people. Mekkar wondered what was happening. Henrik said to Mekkar and Eva that a bombing sortie from sky was about to transpire soon. All of them followed other residents into the entrance of a make-shift underground bomb shelter, where they would be safe. Before long, the blasts began to pepper the area. The people in the temporary quarters below ground could feel reverberations and shock waves from bombs that exploded nearby. The lights in the dwelling flickered on and off continuously. 

At that moment, Henrik began to explain to Mekkar what was happening, why, and the various parties involved. Part of the intent of Mekkar’s papa was to reassure him, so he would not be scared to death. Henrik described the reasons behind the air bombing campaign. He said to Mekkar, “As in other wars in this century, one side is using this type of strategy to break the local population’s morale and willingness to continue to fight this war. There are only two possible outcomes against an enemy through the adoption of these tactics of total conflict. You either drive the people to be more dug-in and strengthen their resolve to outlast your forces. In other words, the side that carrying out the air raid is attempting to force the opposition, on the receiving end, to crack. If it is not successful, the tenacious spirit of the defenders counts on securing eventual victory. Their goal is to employ any means to hang on until the attacker’s will to fight achieve victory in the conflict has waned. Past history has shown that air campaign bombings alone never win wars. Instead, public resolve among the targeted population usually increases exponentially and resistance becomes stronger the longer the methods are employed against them. The stubborn will of some people is ingrained in different cultures to overcome and never surrender.” Mekkar’s papa spoke additional wise words to his son until the bombing had stopped. In single file, the people emerged from the shelter in a single file line. All three in their small group survived the chaos to continue on. Now, it was time to go home.