My first view of Saigon was from the back of a speeding motorbike taxi, known as ‘hug taxis’ in my favorite piece of Vietnamese slang. I looked at the sky to avoid seeing the thousands of would-be killers who swerved way too late for comfort each time. My driver cornered like a lunatic and I clutched my left hand, which by now was livid and shiny as a corpse and a peculiar shape. I secretly hoped it was broken, so I’d get to be a cool kid with a cast. Then I remembered I haven’t needed to dodge Christmas exams in fifteen years.

    ‘Here is hospital.’
I struggled to get the fare out of my money belt. The driver wore sunglasses with pictures of iridescent eyeballs on the lenses.
    ‘What you do your hand?’
    ‘I learned how to ride a motorbike in Dalat yesterday. Then I fell off.’

It’s broken in three places. I have to wear an elbow-length cast for four weeks, and I’m already sick of it in the tropical heat. But at least it’s the left hand. I have enough trouble with chopsticks as is.

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