All Stories, General Fiction

Where Our Lives Come From by Tom Baragwanath

We used to make tables from soft balsa. I can still picture them now; so many thousands of little tables, all the same shape and colour, stacked drying in rows inside warehouses. This was near Pattaya, Thailand, a few months after we left Myanmar. I would take the drums of lacquer – it was three years in this country before I found this word in English, lacquer – I would roll them around the outside of the building, where the high-pressure hoses were attached. I was a sprayer. Aung worked the assembly line, drilling holes for dowels. It was repetitive work, and the warehouse was sometimes so hot that all day sweat would be in your eyes. Still, we knew there were worse ways to make money.

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