As Ami washes her face with what little water there was in the bomb shelter, she stares into her 23 year old face that looked more like a 40-year-old woman.
Tonight, she, her mother, younger siblings and boyfriend were sleeping on the floor at the airport in Tao yuan international airport.
Just 41 days ago, their lives changed.
The war had struck them so unbelievably quick, they never saw it coming.
The seven of them crouched together in a corner of Terminal two, third floor, facing what used to be a ‘Family mart’.
The familiiar song that would start ringing was deafening in Ami’s ears as she stared wide-eyed at the sign that now only had a ‘F’ and ‘rt’ in hanging.
When the war broke out, Ami’s parents had gathered them from all over the country. The high-speed rail station was hijacked by the enemy within the first 02 days so Ami’s father sent private cars to get all of them. Her siblings were studying in Taipei, while she was studying in a university in Kao Hsiung.
Ami had wanted to be a doctor AND also have a life – she’d told her father.
She didn’t want to be in a city.
“Isn’t Kao hsiung a city too?!” her father had argued.
“Yes but i can go to the islands in under an hour, it’s different Pa” She had said. Her parents loved her too much to say no.
When the whole family was reunited in their big mansion in Taipei, right in the middle of the city, they were whisked away quickly to the airport.
Their father had arranged for a private jet to take them all away to Dubai – where he had business connections. Little did he know….
They took him within 30 minutes of them arriving at the airport.
It’s been 41 days since Ami last saw her father.
Abruptly, she’s brought back to the present moment as Xixi and Harry are fighting over who gets to sleep by the window. It’s the full moon tonight, and the 7 of them have been taking turns to ensure their spot in the 3rd floor of the international airport didn’t get taken. It’s a coveted spot.
There’s a toilet just 20 metres away that the military has to upkeep because their soldiers regularly visit there, and the family mart store that was coverted into a war supply storage room still has food and water since the soldiers also rest here.
Ami’s eyes always glaze over the same spot when she’s daydreaming.
She looks at the door to CHO hostel, a hostel that used to host international and national travellers who wanted to sleep over in an airport before or after a flight.
She remembers how expensive 1 bed there used to cost – 1,800 TWD, which is the equavalent of about 05 cigarettes/01 pack of tampons now/01 bottle of shampoo now.
How stupid they used to live, she wondered to herself.
The floor they slept on was all the same. The only difference was the mattress, linens and false sense of security that people who slept in the hostel would get, versus the people who would just sleep outside of the family mart to save money.
Ami remembered walking past sleeping travelers and asking her mother why they didn’t just pay money to sleep in a hostel. Her mother had turned her attention to Ami and said very carefully, “Ami, your life is different. You will never have to experience what they’re going through right now,” before turning her nose up and leading her children away from the ‘hippies’ or ‘poor people’.
“How ironic life is,” Ami says to no one in particular.
Her 15 year old brother looks up at her, and she looks away. They used to be close. And now, they barely speak to each other.
I guess the war does do alot of damage to people. In ways they never could have imagined.