Hsein

Hsein’s son recently went home. His name is also Hsein.

Hsein died September 8th, 2001, not three full days before the deadly terrorist attacks on the United States. I wonder how the world in which he died now seemed markedly different from the one in which he was laid to rest.

As a sea person, liminal space was nothing new to him. In body, mind and spirit, he was inseparable from the coast around Kenting.

In some ways, there is nothing simpler; in others, nothing more challenging — exposed coastline, waves and big sky as far as the eye can see, with nothing to shield you from the fine line between success or failure, bounty or blight. 

This is a country to breed mystical people, humble people, perhaps poetic people.

It was not these coastal dwellers who invented the indifferent universe. Puny you may feel there, but not unnoticed. 

What does it mean, though, to be twinned in name to someone of another generation? To share genetics and perhaps even character traits, but to have few common experiences?

Despite his emotional ties to the coast Hsein’s son is a city boy. He is the first in several generations never to have fished the waters, to have tied to a dock, to have scoured the sky for signs of the fickle weather that could either nourish or destroy the work and hopes of the season.

What he does inherit from his father is the moment of recognition when he hears or reads his name, one that will never be his alone. It connects the two of them and the Kenting coast.

When Hsein’s son visits home the name is yelled from every street corner, every boat, every passing car. 

“Hsein!”

The family is richer for the echo, which remind them that, although stretched across geography and generations, they each will forever find solace on the Kenting coast.

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