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Dr. Gumlat Ong Maio


I am on a wooden boat with mother and baby brother, crossing the buzzing, high-current Diyun Hka river from the Miao bank to the other side, where Adui’s (maternal grandma) reclusive hamlet resides. I can’t wait to see this hamlet. I’ve come here after eight years. The boatman — a bamboo hat over him, sunburnt face and dusty sand-sprinkled clothes — rows his boat against the potent current with a smooth wooden oar, taking a U-shaped route upstream to arrive at the opposite bank. The sandy riverbed is visible from the boat through the transparent, beryl-green water. Only sand down there, not even lumps of green, the current too brawny to permit vegetative growth, the water too transparent for reticent fishes to reveal themselves. It is this same river that flows downstream to pass by father’s village Wakhet-Na, but with calmer attitude. After Adui left the world, only the younger…