Nkauj Yiv-A Novella, Chapter 4

By Kerry Xiong

 

Soapsuds crawled up Nkauj Yiv’s forearms as she scrubbed the ash white Corelle dinner plate in a circular motion. Her scouring toughened, clockwise, counter clockwise, clockwise, scraping the food crud off the crevices of the plate. Nkauj Yiv should pay closer attention to her washing if she wanted to achieve the sparkle that her stepmother sought for on the dinner plates, but she couldn’t keep her focus. Her mind was bound to the fact that she’d seen her shoe posted in the Hmong Times Newspaper, and for a large cash prize at that. Why? Why would anyone want her shoe in trade of cash? It wasn’t like it was a brand new pair worth much. Though intricately embroidered with a hand-sewn silver ncas on the front, the shoes wouldn’t be worth more than twenty dollars if auctioned online. Nkauj Yiv couldn’t figure why someone would feature it there. Was that ‘someone’ perhaps her stepsisters? Stepmother? For a moment on the dance floor, Nkauj Yiv figured that Dib had seen her in the crowd dancing in Nraug Txuj’s arms. But, no. Dib wouldn’t go through the trouble of contacting the newspaper just to get her in trouble. That was quite a lot of effort for Dib.

That night, Nkauj Yiv couldn’t sleep. She lay on her back, twiddling her thumbs nervously. Should she answer that email? Should she respond to the journalist who featured the ad of her shoe? What even would she say?

On impulse, Nkauj Yiv got up at once and flicked on the light. 9-2-9-1 went Nkauj Yiv’s trembling finger as she unlocked her father’s iPad and brought up her email.

Dear Kim, the words emerged on the screen. Nkauj Yiv, sensing a dilemma, deleted them. She bit her lip. What was she trying to accomplish with this? To retrieve her shoe? To see who was behind the ad? Was it by any chance Nraug Txuj? Inside Nkauj Yiv’s heart was a sliver of hope that answering the ad would bring her to Nraug Txuj again. Running fingers through her ensnaring hair, she began to draft a letter:

From: Nkaujyiv@hmail.com

Sent: Wednesday December 26, 11:03 PM

To: info@hmongtimes.com

Subject: Missing shoe ad

Attention: Kim Yang

Good Morning,

I saw my shoe in the Hmong Times Newspaper. This was the shoe I left behind at the RiverCentre New Year. How did you get it and why are you offering a cash reward for finding the other shoe? This frankly is my shoe. If you would be so kind, I would very much appreciate it if you returned it to me. Though this may just be an ordinary shoe to you, it means the world to me as the ncas on the front was hand-sewn on by my late grandmother.

If you can return it to me, I would be obliged to offer you anything that I can in its place. Kindly respond by email as I apologize, but I do not own a mobile phone.

Sincerely,

Nkauj Yiv Xiong (Shoe owner)

From: Kim Yang on behalf of info@hmongtimes.com

Sent: Thursday December 27, 11:01 AM

To: NTxuj@hmail.com

Subject: FW: Missing shoe ad

Nraug Txuj – Yours I think.

~Kim Yang

From: NTxuj on behalf of info@hmongtimes.com

Sent: Thursday December 27, 12:34 PM

To: Nkaujyiv@hmail.com

Subject: RE: Missing shoe ad

Miss Nkauj Yiv xeem Xyooj: Is this your shoe? I’m sorry I wasn’t aware this shoe had an owner. I’d be more than happy to return it. I’m interning for the Hmong Times. Would this weekend work?

-NT

From: NTxuj on behalf of info@hmongtimes.com

Sent: Thursday December 27, 12:30 PM

To: Nkaujyiv@hmail.com

Subject: RE: Missing shoe ad

Another thing: please bring the other shoe to prove you are the owner. Thanks

-NT

From: Nkaujyiv@hmail.com

Sent: Friday December 28, 11:02 AM

To: info@hmongtimes.com

Subject: RE: Missing shoe ad

Good Morning, NT.

Yes that will work. Thank you so very much. Please confirm where and when and I will be there. That would be really nice of you.

Sincerely,

Nkauj Yiv (Shoe owner)

From: NTxuj on behalf of info@hmongtimes.com

Sent: Thursday December 28, 12:01 PM

To: Nkaujyiv@hmail.com

Subject: RE: Missing shoe ad

Hi: Hmong Village 9 AM?

-NT

From: Nkaujyiv@hmail.com

Sent: Friday December 28, 1:49 PM

To: info@hmongtimes.com

Subject: RE: Missing shoe ad

Good Afternoon, NT.

Yes that will work fine. I look forward to meeting you.

Sincerely,

Nkauj Yiv (Shoe owner)

Stay tuned for Chapter 5 in the 1/16/19 issue of the Hmong Times.