As I stood there, so much memories kept flushing back and I fought so hard to fight off the tears. It would have been perfect if my Grandmother would have been there standing next to me. I was even on her bicycle a few times when she took me to visit my mother at Talat Sao. Back then my Grandmother could only visit me during the time she was allowed to be out from the “Re-Education Camp”.

I only knew my Grandmother for a few years before we left for the Thai refugee camps. She was the world to me and the only one I had a connection with next to her parents (my great-grandparents). The only dream I ever had was to graduate and go back to Laos to visit my Great-grandmother and my Grandmother. I pushed myself all those years just so they can be proud of me. When they both passed away before I could go back to Laos in the year 2000, part of me died too.

I never thought I would be back to Laos because I had no connection with my birth place and was not in a hurry to visit the country since my parents didn’t even want me to go there with them. But destiny must have had its way and here I was again in Laos for the second time, trying to reconcile with my past and attempting to overcome my nightmares.

Patouxay was the compass of my life. It was the marker, the center where I would trace my steps. If I went too far into the unknown and got lost, all I needed to do was to find Patouxay and I would be able to find my way home. There I was standing at the top of the not so tall structure and shutting out all the noises around me. I felt as though I was on top of a highest mountain. I found peace at last. Now, for the first time in my life I feel grounded and centered.

No more regret, no more guilt, no more burden, just live…