So when opportunity arises, you understand why we would cram like livestock in dark cargo holds? Privacy is not in our Chinese vocabulary. We can contend with the crooked arms, the strange smells and the tumbling, rolling waves. We can risk peril in airless containers stacked with computer parts or frozen meats.

We dream of money, regular remittances, rebuilding the old home or ancestral altar, inspired by the urban miracles glittering along our coast and our mighty diaspora, colonies everywhere you can imagine.

But every yearning, we also know, exacts a price. What mantras does one chant as one crouches senselessly cold in a truck journey that never seems to end, darkness upon darkness? As one shudders, what thoughts? Martyrdom? The rustic beauty of home? Or how best to savour these last molecules of oxygen?

:: Paul Tan, in Softblow

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