Zagreb: Trg Kralja Tomistava 21

Geneva The cab driver is taking me to Pearson airport. When he hears I am going to Croatia he looks back over his shoulder and barks at me. “Are you crazy? People are desperate to get out of there. They can’t leave! And you’re going there? What are you thinking?”

I am repulsed by the images of torture, mutilation, death, every form of horror. I return the book to its place on the shelf feeling tremors of guilty attraction, hoping I will not be drawn back to that terrible mistress but knowing I probably will.

Bounthan looks pleadingly into my eyes and asks me to help his people. I assume he is asking for a donation and I start reaching for my wallet before realizing that he is asking for much more than money.

Bounthan is back in Laos, imprisoned for “disseminating propaganda against the government with the intention of undermining the state.”