A girl named Lynne

I’ve been having some very personal problems lately. I miss my daughter so much. It’s her fourth birthday soon and I haven’t seen her since she was a tiny baby with breathing tubes in her nose, because her mother ran away with her and refuses to send me photos or even let me send her gifts.

This has come to a head recently, as I have talked more and more about Suki to strangers and friends, as I’ve bought her more and more beautiful clothes and bags and purses and toys that I will probably never be able to give her. I have her name tattooed on my arm in Japanese (for Suki is a Japanese name of course), and last week had I had a beautiful painting commissioned featuring her name in both English and Japanese.

After spending nights sitting in bars crying in the corner by myself and sleeping out on the balcony under the stars (which alarms the maid greatly) it finally occcurred to me why I miss Suki so much more right now than ever before. It’s because of a girl named Lynne.

I have always picked a specific vendor and refused to buy from anyone else, and my rose vendor was Nam, and I would buy a rose from him every single day that I saw him. Sometimes one, and sometimes a whole bouquet. But there was this girl who always tried to get me to buy her bouquets (she didn’t always carry single ones) and I wouldn’t do it, until one day someone said “You know she’s his sister, right ?” and I said “Oh my god. I had no idea”.

Since then, I bought roses off Lynne more and more, giving them to random people like the manager of my local bar, or the landlady of my apartment, but I didn’t see her much. She normally does the very late shift… sometimes staying out until as late as 6am in the morning selling roses, despite not even being a teenager yet. I always thought she was an idiot beause she would play the fool so much and do anything to amuse people. One night, a group of Irish girls challenged her to see how many cotton tips she could stick into every hole in her head, and Lynne proudly did it and grinned while I shook my head in amazement.

Lynne was even present at my engagement party last year. I was celebrating with friends and at about 3 or 4am Lynne walks in and sees us all, and knowing us all well, bounces up to us cheerily to have fun. She danced with us.. we all picked her up and held her upside down and stuff for funny photos and she was hilarious as always. Having Lynne at that event was, to me, the best part of the night.

When I left Vietnam, I ached to come back. I kept saying I wanted to see the vendors again. Some people hate them, but to me they are the lifeblood of Saigon. I wanted to see Nam and Lynne so bad. Not long after arriving, I saw a boy who looked like Nam. I asked him about Lynne. He said she was nearby somewhere, and shortly later he found her and pointed and said that I wanted to see her.

The girl who ran over to me with the smile on her face was not the same Lynne I had known less than a year ago. This girl was no tiny child anymore. Her style of clothing had changed. She had grown her hair out and had highlights put through it. I genuinely had to ask “Lynne ? Is that really you ? You’ve change so much !” and she justs said “Yup !”

I don’t see her too often, but when I do it brings such pleasure to my life. Sometimes when I hang out with Ai, who’s not really my girlfriend but pretends she is, we talk to them because she knows the rose kids well. Sometimes she lends them money, sometimes she borrows money off them. One of the kids one night was hungry because he had sold nothing and hadn’t eaten all day.

Ai asked if I could buy him some noodles. I said sure, and he wolfed down two entire bowls of noodles. One of the other boys crept up close and politely asked if he could have a soft drink, and I bought him one and he thanked me and drank it before leaving. Then Lynne walked past. I asked if she wanted to eat with us but she said she wasn’t hungry but that I could buy her a drink if I wanted. I did, and she sat with us. I just marvelled at how she’d changed so much in such a short time. I said “Lynne, when I met you, you were this tiny kid who used to stick things in your nose and ears to make strangers laugh. Now you’re a big girl and you act like one”.

She proudly grinned and said “I grew up”. I asked “How old are you now ?” and she said “12”. “12 ?!?!” She said ” I was only about 10 when you met me, but I just turned 12 now”. I asked “Lynne, can I adopt you ?” and she laughed and said “I already have a mother and father silly” and I said “Yeah I know. But I’m sure I’d be a pretty cool one too if I had a kid like you”.

And I think that’s the cause of the heart-wrenching trauma which is tearing me apart right now and making me want to kill myself to stop the agony inside me. I have spent more time watching Lynne, a girl on the street, grow up, than I have my own daughter.

I’ve seen not just the change in her appearance but the change in her attitude and maturity too. She no longer plays the fool to convince people to buy flowers. She just smiles adorably and acts as charming and polite as possible. She curtsies and she does little dances. Whatever she has to do to say “Hey, look at me, I’m cute. Buy a $3.50 bouquet from me”.

I don’t know those things about my daughter. I don’t know what her first words were. I didn’t see her first steps. I don’t know whether she hates carrot and broccoli or whether she prefers strawberry over chocolate, or whether she likes books or dolls. I do know these things about Lynne, because I’m allowed to be a part of her life.

But for some bizarre reason, the law in Australia says that once parents separate, the father basically doesn’t exist anymore unless he pays tens of even hundreds of thousands of dollars just to get a few hours supervised access to his child.

Which is why I know more about Lynne than I know about Suki. I wish I could see my daughter grow up the way I’ve seen Lynne grow up.

Seeing the local vendors carrying their children as they work and taking photos of them lately, and having them train their kids to home in on me and give me big hugs and blow kisses to endear them to me and then seeing the bigger kids like Nam and Lynne.. I didn’t realise it at first, but it was breaking my heart. Knowing there’s a girl out there somewhere just like these kids, being adorable and funny and quirky to other people, but who is my own flesh and blood and yet I don’t get to see. That’s sending me insane to the point I don’t want to live anymore.

Here is Lynne, circa 2011 and 2012, followed by a few random photos of her just being there in my life… something Suki has never been.

Selling roses… 2011

Selling roses… 2012

Causing havoc at my engagement party… 2011

Being an idiot to amuse strangers… 2011

Sometimes we’re so close I almost think she is my child

I’m 34 now and the only thing I want in my life is a child to teach and nurture and watch grow up, the way I see kids like Lynne grow up. But that seems less and less likely to ever happen.

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2 Responses to A girl named Lynne

  1. wily says:

    I feel for you, I really do, but Lynne is not your child, go and find your own child.

    • pawz says:

      Just because she’s not my child doesn’t mean I can’t be friends with her. The kids have a tough job here. They get a 4th grade education at best and then they spend 11 or more hours a day walking the streets selling roses. Being friends with the tourists or the people who live in the area makes the kids’ day a little brighter. I know she’s not my child, but it doesn’t mean I don’t feel just as protective of her as I would my own and just as happy to see her each day.

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