The Citadel, Hue

A woman scrubbed clothes in the grey water in the wheelbarrow. A man crouched on his heels and watched her. He flicked away his cigarette butt and it landed in the barrow. To the two tourists, the tone the woman used sounded venomous.

They hurried through the first door they came to along the cloister. People slept in hammocks in the humid twilight. The tourists stopped suddenly and backed out of the room. Perhaps the people in the hammocks were looking at them.

The rest of their group were standing in the shade of the courtyard wall while their guide recited facts they did not appear to be taking in. Only the slight man with the wispy beard and the conical hat, always him, seemed to be listening, and asked questions.

Again he said “In my youth I marched with the students in Paris. We were for you.” Again the guide said “My grandmother was young when she lost all her family.”

On the far side of the courtyard someone said two dollars was too much. His friend had told him not to pay more than one dollar fifty.

The woman finished the washing and hung it dripping on the scaffolding. As the two tourists hurried towards their group, they wondered how it would ever dry.

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