MullerHitchhiking Vietnam
Page 97

The tomb of the emperor Duc Duc charged no entrance fee, largely because its outer walls had long since fallen to rubble in a field filled with cows. I thought the place deserted, a forgotten jumble of crumbling arches and scar-faced stone carvings, until a caretaker shuffled out and motioned me inside. He was sparrow-boned and stoop-shouldered, as old and rundown as the tomb itself. Two fingers of his right hand were missing, a reminder of his soldier days and the price of his guaranteed employment amidst the ruins of the past. He described at length the lanterns, photos and bronze knick knacks, and it took me several minutes to realize he was using the absent fingers to point at each object as he spoke. From time to time he slowly ran his hand down the length of his long, straggly beard using those same fingers to untangle imagined knots in the five remaining hairs. I left him sitting peacefully on the stone steps, spitting into the garden, and hoped that when his time came he too would be given a place beside the emperor as one of his more loyal servants.