Vignette

On The First Quiet Morning

I remember the first time Bassnectar called Dylan back when we still lived in Toronto and I descended into a loud fit of sneezing. I sneezed like seven times. The entire house shook and the bones in my chest reset. Afterward there was a pause. “What was that?” asked Lorin, afraid. “The thing about Nunich,” said Dylan, “is that she has very intense sneezes.” Many years later, Dylan took me to Laos for my birthday. Laos is my motherland, and it’s unknown if I had ever even been there, since I don’t know exactly where I was born, whether in Laos, Vietnam or Thailand. Anyway, on the first tranquil morning bright with sunshine when we landed in Vientiane, I looked around and breathed the air in. Laos is a very poor and undeveloped country with dirt lanes and dry river beds, skinny barefoot children selling trinkets, dulcet women in traditional garments gazing silently, old men smoking and looking on. Laotians are famous for being beautiful, friendly, polite and quiet. I spent my whole life somewhere else so I didn’t feel any immediate connection. I just looked around and was lost in thought. The day was bright and hot, the sun shone inscrutably down upon all. We saw a thin frail old woman making her ancient way slowly toward us. Suddenly she sneezed so deafeningly as to convulse the town. The noise was loud as thunder, a high magnitude earthquake couldn’t have been more disruptive. But no one batted an eye. Just another hot humid day in Laos. Dylan and I looked at each other. “It’s the sneeze!” I said. “The sneeze of my people!”

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