Oh gosh guys, I’m sorry. I kind of lost the run of myself in the last post. It’s just grief. I just don’t know what I’ll do without him. I feel so isolated, so lonely. It’s hard.
Let’s just concentrate on what we can remember about him. He was a great man. I just think we should focus on that. You loved him, even if you couldn’t admit it.
I met him once. I was six and he was touring the paracetamol factory where I was working at the time. They told us the night before he would be coming, so be sure to get there early and hide the wounds from our lashings.
I picked my best button-down slate-gray blouse — and when I say “best,” I mean “only article of clothing,” since it would be another two months before I received my first pair of trousers — and crunched my way through that glorious paracetamol-scented morning dew.
That day, they told us they wouldn’t whip us at all. It was the first day in the two years I had worked at PyongSu Cetamol that anybody went without lashings. At the time, none of us knew we’d have double the lashings to make up for it, and triple the lashings for the rest of the month. I saw my father An Doo Chol smile for the first and last time that day, the crows feet that framed his morose, ancient 28-year-old eyes narrowing, those quivering jaws parting to reveal the gray gums and those two weathered, heroic teeth.
When a great man like the Dear Leader enters the room, the sensation is ecstatic. You feel it first in the hairs on the back of your neck. Mine stood up like a hundred loyal comrades and saluted the great man. Next, we all breathed deeply of the intoxicating air of sweet hibiscus and crisp dew that surrounded the Dear Leader always. That’s the nourishing breath of the Juche Idea we knew was our birthright. The paracetamol factory normally smelt like ammonia because we weren’t allowed to take bathroom breaks!
Oh my goodness, there he was. He put a wise hand on the conveyor belt and asked to see us working. I don’t think I ever pressed paracetamol so fast in my life. I looked to my left and saw my father An Doo Chol with burly tears welling up in those sunken, weary eyes and flowing forth like the pristine gray opaqueness of the spring that watered our village. The leather of his bottom lip he gripped as tightly as he could between those gray gums to keep him from spilling into open, hoarse sobs. He cleared his throat masculinely
My own eyes misted from the beauty of the moment, as they are misting now. I fainted with pleasure. The next day, I was lashed quadruple for fainting, but those lashes felt as sweet and light as my mother Ho Sook Hye’s kisses because they were lashes of devotion to the Dear Leader.
That day, Kim Jong Il pronounced ours the best paracetamol in all of North Korea. Even though the daily ration of rice gruel or carrot-green broth stopped that day and never came back, it was worth it just to hear that.