Monday, December 31, 2012

រឿងល្បើកនិងរឿងនិទាន

រឿង សេកនិងសារិកា

(បទពាក្យ ៧)
កាលពីព្រេងនាយនិទានថា        មានអ្នកឧកញ៉ាចិញ្ចឹមសត្វ
សេកនិងសារិកាឈ្លាសវៃឆ្លាត    បង្ហាត់ឲ្យចេះនិយាយស្តី ។
ថ្ងៃមួយឧកញ៉ាចាកចេញចរ         ទៅរកជួញដូរនៅស្រុកឆ្ងាយ
ហៅសេកសារិកាមកជិតកាយ     លែបខាយផ្តែផ្តាំពួកវាថា ។
នៅពេលយើងចេញទៅរកស៊ី       ចូរឯងទាំងពីរជួយរក្សា
មើលការខុសត្រូវក្នុងគ្រឹហា          ថែទាំការពារជួសយើងផង ។
សេកនិងសារិកាឆ្លើយតបស្តី        ថាលោកកុំភ័យបារម្ភហ្មង
ពួកយើងនឹងមើលមិនឲ្យឆ្គង        ខុសពីបំណងលោកម្ចាស់ទេ ។
ពេលអ្នកឧកញ៉ាទៅបាត់ឆ្ងាយ      អស់គ្រាច្រើនថ្ងៃចូលដល់ខែ
ភរិយាគាត់មានចិត្តប្រួលប្រែ         លួចនាំគូស្នេហ៌មកក្នុងផ្ទះ ។
សារិកាឃើញច្នោះក៏ពោលថា        អុះឱ ! មាតាម្តេចផ្តេសផ្តាស
លួចមានសហាយឥតអៀនខ្មាស់
ទោសនេះធ្ងន់ណាស់ស្អុយកេរ្តិ៍ឈ្មោះ ។
លុះបានឮពាក្យសារិកាប្រាប់         ស្ត្រីសាវាឆាប់ចាប់យល់គ្រោះ
គាត់ធ្វើពុតយំស្តាយកំហុស           សុំក្តីអនុគ្រោះពីសារិកា ។
ឱ ! សារិកាកូនមាសម្តាយអើយ     ខ្លួនម៉ែខុសហើយមិនគួរណា
ផិតចិត្តស្វាមីមានស្នេហា                អាស្រូវកាយាអសោចកេរ្តិ៍ ។
បាបកម្មនេះធ្ងន់ពន់ពេកក្រៃ           ទោះធ្លាក់អវិចីក៏នៅតែ
មិនអាចលុបលាងទោសបានដែរ   ជាតិនេះគ្មានទេក្តីសុខសាន្ត ។
ពោលចប់ស្ត្រីនោះអង្គុយយំ            ខ្សឹកខ្សួលអួលងំមុខចង្ក្រាន
សារិកាឃើញស្ត្រីយំបោកប្រាណ    គិតស្មានថាគាត់កើតទុក្ខពិត ។
វាក៏ហើរទៅទំលើស្មា                       ស្ត្រីនោះដោយចិន្តាអាណិត
ពេលសារិកាចុះមកកៀកកិត           ស្ត្រីផិតប្រែចិត្តប្រើល្បិចថ្មី ។
ចាប់ជើងសារិកាហើយពោលថា      នែ៎ ! អាសារិកាសត្វចង្រៃ
ឯងដឹងរឿងយើងច្រើនពេកក្រៃ        ច្នេះឯងត្រូវក្ស័យថ្ងៃនេះម្តង ។
ពោលចប់ហើយចាប់មួលកបត់        សារិកាកំសត់ផុតជន្មបង់
បោះចូលក្នុងភ្លើងឆេះជាផង់             រលាយបាត់អង្គសូន្យសុងទៅ ។
ពេលអ្នកឧកញ៉ាវិលមកដល់            ផ្ទះវិញគាត់ឆ្ងល់ពន់ពេកកូវ
ដ្បិតឃើញតែសេកចាំលំនៅ            គាត់ក៏ចៅរ៉ៅសួរសេកថា ។
សេកអើយសេកសោមឆោមនិមល  ចូរអ្នកជួយផ្តល់របាយការណ៍
ពេលយើងទៅជួញឆ្ងាយគ្រឹហា        តើមានព្រឹត្តិការណ៍អ្វីកើតទេ ? ។
សេកតបថា ឱ ! លោកម្ចាស់អើយ   ពាក្យនេះខ្ញុំឆ្លើយដោយគ្នាន់គ្នេរ
ខ្ញុំមិនដឹងឮឃើញអ្វីទេ                       គ្រាន់តែដឹងថាបាត់សារិកា ។
មិនដឹងថាវាមានរឿងអ្វី                      ឬវាមានញីគូសង្សារ
លួចទៅរួមរ័កកៀកកើយគ្នា              ក្នុងព្រៃព្រឹក្សាឆ្ងាយភូមិឋាន ។
រឿងនេះខ្ញុំក៏មិនដឹងច្បាស់                សូមទានប្រុសម្ចាស់ស្តាប់ឲ្យបាន
ទាល់តែសារិកាវិលវិញថ្កាន              ទើបអាចប្រាប់បាននូវការពិត ៕
រស់នៅក្រោមអំណាចមនុស្សអន្យតិរ្ថីយ៍ គប្បីចេះធ្វើគធ្វើថ្លង់

Saturday, December 29, 2012

រឿងល្បើកនិងរឿងនិទាន

រឿង តោនិងក្របីព្រៃ

តោមួយបានដើរស្វែងរកអាហារ នៅក្បែរមាត់ព្រៃ ។ នៅពេលវាដើរ
មកដល់ក្បែរមាត់បឹងមួយ វាបានឃើញក្របីព្រៃឈ្មោលចំនួនបួន កំពុង
ឈរស៊ីស្មៅនៅក្បែរបឹងនោះ ។ តោមានបំណងចាប់ក្របីទាំងនោះ ស៊ី
ជាអាហារ ។ ប៉ុន្តែ នៅពេលដែលតោ លបចូលទៅជិតក្របីទាំងបួន
ពេលណា ពួកវាតែងតែបែរគូទទល់គ្នា ដើម្បីប្រឈមមុខតតាំងនឹងតោ ដែលជាហេតុមិនអាចឲ្យតោ លោតចូលទៅខាំក្របីណាមួយបាន
ឡើយ ។ ព្រោះថា ទោះបីជាតោ លោតចូលទៅខាំក្របីពីទិសណាក៏
ដោយ វាត្រូវប្រឈមមុខ ទល់នឹងស្នែងដ៏មុតស្រួច របស់ក្របីជានិច្ច ។
មិនយូរប៉ុន្មាន ក្របីព្រៃទាំងបួនមានជម្លោះនឹងគ្នា ហើយពួកវាក៏បានចែក
ផ្លូវគ្នា ទៅរកស៊ីស្មៅនៅកន្លែងទីទៃរៀងៗខ្លួន ។ ឆ្លៀតឱកាសដែលក្របី
ព្រៃទាំងបួន កំពុងមានជម្លោះនឹងគ្នា តោក៏បានលបចូលទៅ ខាំសម្លាប់
ក្របីទាំងនោះ ស៊ីម្តងមួយៗអស់ទៅ ៕
ការបែកបាក់សាមគ្កីគ្នា អាចឲ្យសត្រូវយាយីយើងបាន

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Fables and Folktales

រឿង ទន្សាយនិងសិង្ហ

កាលពីព្រេងនាយ ពួកសត្វចតុប្បាទ ដែលរស់នៅលើវាលស្មៅ សាវ៉ា
ណាក្នុងទ្វីបអាហ្វ្រិក បានកោះប្រជុំមហាសន្និបាតមួយ ដើម្បីរៀបចំសង្គម
ឲ្យមានរបៀបរៀបរយ និងយុត្តិធម៌ ។ សត្វទាំងអស់ ដែលបានមកចូល
រួមក្នុងមហាសន្និបាត បានឡើងបញ្ចេញមត្តិ និងផ្តល់អនុសាសន៍ជូនអង្គ
ប្រជុំរៀងៗខ្លួន ។ ប៉ុន្តែ អនុសាសន៍ទាំងនោះ មានភាពចម្រូងចម្រាស
មិនអាចយកជាការអ្វីបានឡើយ ព្រោះសត្វទាំងអស់បានធ្វើអនុសាសន៍
ការពារតែផលប្រយោជន៍របស់ក្រុមខ្លួន ។ ដើម្បីបំបែកនូវភាពទាល់ច្រក សត្វទាំងអស់ក៏បែរទៅសួរយោបល់សុភាទន្សាយ ដែលគេដឹងថា ជាអ្នក
ប្រាជ្ញដ៏ឈ្លៀសវៃម្នាក់ ។ បន្ទាប់ពីបានពិនិត្យពិច័យ នូវរាល់បញ្ហាយ៉ាង
ល្អិតល្អន់រួច ទន្សាយក៏ឲ្យយោបល់ថា៖ “ដើម្បីយុត្តិធម៌និងរបៀបរៀបរយ
ក្នុងសង្គម យើងទាំងអស់គ្នាមិនចង់ឲ្យនរណាម្នាក់ បំពារបំពានលើអាយុ
ជីវិត និងសិទ្ធិសេរីភាពរបស់យើងទេ ។ ដូច្នេះ សេចក្តីសម្រេចដ៏ល្អបំផុត
នោះ គឺត្រូវឲ្យសត្វទាំងអស់ មានសិទ្ធិសេរីភាពស្មើៗគ្នា” ។ បន្ទាប់ពីបាន
ស្តាប់យោបល់ទន្សាយហើយ សិង្ហក៏ថ្លែងប្រាប់អង្គសន្និបាតថា៖ “យោបល់របស់បងទន្សាយល្អណាស់ ប៉ុន្តែ មិនអាចយកជាការបានទេ
ព្រោះសម្តីគាត់ ខ្វះក្រញាំនិងចង្កូម” ៕
សម្តីអ្នកទន់ខ្សោយ ទោះបីជាត្រឹមត្រូវយ៉ាងណា
ក៏គ្មានឥទ្ធិពលដូចសម្តីអ្នកមានអំណាចដែរ ។

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

WAR AND GENOCIDE

Marching Toward the Inferno

After spending almost a year in Prek Rumdeng, we received word that all new people in the village would be sent to help cultivate lands in the northwestern regions of the country. Most of us, residents of the agricultural village, received the news with mixed feelings, for we didn’t know what would happen to us once we were sent to the new location. However, there was nothing we could do to change our fates. In the Khmer Rouge’s society there was only one choice for people to make regarding their destiny: following the organization’s directives. Angkar dak teus or the organization’s directives were more powerful than God’s commands that no one, not even the Khmer Rouge cadres themselves, dared question. As we were to learn later, many people paid with their lives when their impulses, be it questioning the rationale of the directives or just foraging for food to stave off death from starvation, had the misfortunes of colliding with the organization’s directives.

By early January 1976, all new people living in the agricultural village were ordered to pack up their belongings and prepare for departure to be resettled in a new place. To keep us under complete control, the Khmer Rouge’s leadership didn’t even tell us to where we were being sent. However, some sympathetic local Khmer Rouge cadres told us that we would likely be resettled in the following provinces: Kompong Thom, Siem Reap, and Battambang, which were located in the northwestern part of Cambodia. With this limited information, my mother dispatched one of my brothers to tell Om Voan of the destination to where we might be sent and asked her to relay the message to Grandma Seung if she chanced upon anyone who might be able to get in touch with her.

We were told to meet up at a gathering place, whose name I don’t remember, on the bank of the Mekong River. There were hundreds of thousands of new people being gathered up in the area. Some of them were being loaded onto river ships and barges which were moored along the shoreline. After spending one night at that gathering place, we were ordered to board one of the ships. When all the ships and barges were filled to capacity with their human cargo, they departed, first upstream and then across the Mekong River. A couple of hours later, the river convoy took us across the river and we arrived at a small township by the riverbank called Peam Chi Kong. Surprisingly, we were almost back to where we began, for Peam Chi Kong was located only about a couple of miles down river from Chamkar Samseb Village, a place we used as a springboard to cross to the eastern area of the Mekong River during our evacuation from Kompong Cham City. Also, Peam Chi Kong was the place where my brother Heang and Uncle Lai Hea were detained during their failed attempt to go and stay with my mother’s older sister, Om Ly, in Chamkar Leur district.

As we disembarked from the ships and barges, the Khmer Rouge cadres who were overseeing our transport told us to temporarily settle in the abandoned shop houses which were lining a small single paved road leading from the port. We settled into one of the abandoned shop houses whose owners were probably being banished into the countryside or possibly being transported among us. Despite lack of upkeep, the houses were reasonably habitable. As we swept the dust and cleared away some furniture and debris for our sleeping quarters, we found many things such as water faucets and the indoor toilet that remained intact, though not functional because of lack of running water. In one of perhaps the cruelest ironies, the house reminded us of what life was like, or at least used to be like, before the Khmer Rouge enslaved us in their utopian society.

We stayed in Peam Chi Kong for about one week before the Khmer Rouge authority ordered us to pack up our belongings and prepared to move again. One morning, a convoy of cargo trucks arrived to transport us to the next destination. After the trucks came to a stop, we were told to board them immediately so that the convoy could leave promptly, for our travel might take many, many hours to complete. To ensure that we would not separate from each other, Aunt Muoy and her husband, Kun, traveled with us as one family unit. We all boarded a truck along with a few other families. We put our belongings on the floor of the truck and climbed on top of them to sit precariously. As soon as each of the trucks was filled to capacity, they began to depart one after another into the unknown. Luckily, we were traveling during day time, which gave us an opportunity to follow our progress and see where we might possibly be heading.

Our truck and the entire convoy headed westward on a rutted highway that was full of potholes. The highway appeared to have been built when the French were ruling Cambodia as a colony (1863-1954). From the size and shape of it, the highway was of secondary importance as far as transportation and commercial were concerned. During the civil war from1970-75, this stretch of highway, which led from Peam Chi Kong westward, was abandoned and neglected. It had probably seen little motorized traffic, except for the occasional oxcart convoy of villagers who lived along its length. Hence, many of the potholes were as large as a buffalo’s wallowing pond. Thanks, in part, to the drivers, most of whom appeared to be Khmer Rouge soldiers, our safety had never been compromised whenever the truck negotiated through those large potholes. Our driver seemed to take utmost care whenever he drove the truck through road obstacles.

At about midday our truck arrived in the town of Skun. There the driver stopped the truck to give us a short biological break before continuing on our journey. After a brief stop, our driver started the truck’s engine to signal to us that it was time to leave. We climbed back onto the truck without even being told to do so. Our behavior was quite automatic and it was not clear whether our prompt responses to the Khmer Rouge nonverbal communication were due to fear or anxiety. But what was painfully clear was that we all resigned to our fate. The lack of information regarding our future destiny was powerful enough to keep us behaving like automatons. The two Khmer Rouge soldiers who drove our truck seemed to know that very well. They rarely made eye contact with us, and hardly ever talked to us. They would pick an appropriate spot to stop the truck to let us have a break and restart the truck’s engine when they determined that it was time for us to leave.

After everyone was on board, our truck started moving again through the tiny town of Skun which was also devoid of people. Just like any other township, its residents had been banished to the countryside where they were forced to work in agricultural fields. Our truck went half way around a tiny circle located in the middle of town and turned onto National Highway Number 6, which led northwestward toward the provinces of Kompong Thom, Siem Reap, and Battambang. At that point, we sort of had a vague idea as to where we were heading. As our truck moved out of Skun and into the open rice fields, we saw our convoy stretching as far as the eye could see. Our truck was only one of many. There must be hundreds of thousands of people being sent along with us to the northwestern region of the country. Our truck lumbered along the potholes highway like an overburdened fire ant. It made a few stops along the way to let us have biological breaks and stretch our limbs.

At about 4:30 p.m., our truck made another stop in a small township called Staung, which was located in the western region of Kompong Thom province. As we disembarked the truck, which was, by then, becoming routine for us, we were told to unload our belongings from the truck, put them in one of the abandoned shop houses, and wait there for further instruction. We did as told, and, as soon as we emptied the truck, the driver took off without even saying goodbye to us. Just as we were about to settle down to prepare for our temporary stay in that township, we saw many oxcarts, apparently driven by local villagers, arriving in town. Some of them came to stop in front of the abandoned houses where we were staying. A few minutes later, we saw what appeared to be local Khmer Rouge cadres walking around telling people to put their belongings in the oxcarts and be ready for departure. Once again, we quickly loaded our belongings onto the oxcarts and stood ready for our departure. As we were loading our belongings onto an oxcart, we realized that it was too small to carry all of our things. Thus, my mother told Aunt Muoy and her husband to quickly claim one of the nearest oxcarts to carry their belongings. Her instinct was that the closer the oxcarts were to each other, the more likely they were coming from the same village. Therefore, we wouldn’t be separated from each other once we were transported to our next destination.

As soon as we finished piling our belongings onto the oxcarts, they once again departed along a dirt road in a form of oxcart convoy. We asked the drivers of the two oxcarts, in which Aunt Muoy’s family and we put our belongings, to go one after another so that we would be traveling close to each other. Our oxcart’s driver told everyone to walk behind the cart while asking my mom along with Buntha and me, the children, to climb up and ride in the oxcart with him. As we were moving along with the oxcarts convoy, we had no clue where we were heading. The only sense of direction for us was that we were going northwestward from Staung, for the sunset was in front of us tilting a bit to the left.
(To be continued)

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Customs Cambodia (By Chou Ta-Kuan)

18) Territorial Landscapes

From the day I set foot in Cambodia, I have seen miles and miles of pristine forests. On both sides of the river’s banks, one could see primeval forests with thick canopies, along with rattan vines dangling all over the places, stretching for hundreds of li’s. Once we enter the Tonle Sap Lake area, we would see vast rice fields stretching as far as the eyes could see. There is not a single tree in those fields.

Large herds of wild oxen (ko prey) gathering in the thousands roaming around the savannah where there are lots of bamboo forests. The bamboos here have thick thorns and their young shoots taste very tart. On the horizon, one could see mountain ranges rising up in all four cardinal points.

19) Natural Resources and Commodities
Cambodia has a lot of mountains and forests. In some places, there are wide, open spaces where elephants and rhinoceroses gather. There are also a lot of valuable birds and wild animals. Among the most sought after birds and commodities are kingfishers, elephant’s tusks, rhino tusks, bee vaxes, aromatic woods, cardamom, lacquers, and orchids.

Kingfishers are a kind of birds which are difficult to catch. They usually live in the forest near a lake or pond in which there are fishes. Trappers who wish to catch them have to hide in tree branches and sit quietly near the edge of water. Then they would put out a kingfisher decoy, set a net trap nearby, and wait for the wild kingfisher to come near in order to set off the trap. Sometimes, the kingfisher trappers sit and wait all day long without catching any game.

As for elephant tusks, only people who live in the rural and isolated villages could find them. Elephant grows only one pair of tusks in a lifetime. So, the belief that elephant sheds its tusks once a year is wrong. Elephant’s tusks, which were taken by hunting, are considered first grade. Those, which are collected following the natural death of an elephant, are considered second grade. The least valuable tusks are those which were found after the elephant died a long time ago.

People collected bee waxes from tree crevices where a kind of small bees with thin waists like fire ants built their hives. Sometimes, people use small boats to search for bee hives in the trees which grow around the edge of the Tonle Sap Lake.

As for rhinoceros tusks, the white ones are considered more valuable than the dark ones. Erica woods grow deep in the jungles. They are rare and difficult to cut down, for they have very hard textures. The outer ring of this tree could be 2 to 3 feet thick. Even the smaller ones have outer rings of at least one foot thick. As for cardamoms, they are grown on the slope of mountains.

Lacquer is a product which was extracted from a particular kind of tree by cutting a hollow hole in its trunk. Once the oily substances oozed out and filled the holes, people would go around collecting them to be processed. There are orchids which grow only on the branches of certain trees. They are very rare. Samraung (Chaulmoogra) oil is extracted from the seeds of the Samraung trees whose fruits look similar to those of the cacao’s. Each Samraung’s fruit contains a number of seeds. Peppers are grown around rattan poles which were used as support structures. The greener the pepper seeds, the more savory they are.

20) Trades
Cambodian women are skillful traders. Hence, many Chinese men, who immigrated to Cambodia, are quick to get married because they would gain both a companion and a commercially viable partner. Every day, the women folks get up early to bring their commodities to the marketplace for selling. There are no stands, stalls, or shopping houses in the market. People place mats on the ground and display their products on them. The trading activity lasts until noon while everyone is going home. I heard that there are fees to be paid to officials for the use of the marketplace.

People sell all kinds of stuffs in the market—from rice to clothing items to gold. Usually, people are respectful of Chinese traders. Every time they meet the Chinese traders, they would bow their heads as if paying respect to god. However, recently, there have been some cheating and swindling against Chinese traders who had just flocked into the country.
(Excerpt from the Cambodian Royal Chronicle, to be continued)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

រឿងល្បើកនិងរឿងនិទាន

រឿង សត្វត្រដក់និងអ្នកស្រែ

(បទ បន្ទោលកាក)
អ្នកស្រែម្នាក់ដាក់                សំណាញ់លប់ទាក់ហ្វូងចាប
ចុះស៊ីសំណាប                    គ្រាប់ស្រូវទើបសាបឥតលស់ ។
ពេលសំណាញ់លប់            វាយសង្គ្រប់ខ្ទប់ចាបនោះ
ជាប់ទាំងត្រដក់                   រងគ្រោះដូចហ្វូងចាបដែរ ។
ត្រដក់ភ័យណាស់              វាអង្វរអ្នកម្ចាស់ស្រែ
ថាខ្ញុំស៊ីតែ                           ក្តាមកាត់ស្រូវស្រែចង្រៃ ។
មិនដូចហ្វូងចាប                តែងហើរឆៀងឆាបច្រៀវច្រៃ
ស៊ីស្រូវរាល់ថ្ងៃ                   បំផ្លាញខ្ទេចខ្ទីគ្មានសល់ ។
អ្នកស្រែឮច្នោះ                  ប្រាប់ត្រដក់ឲ្យអស់ឆ្ងល់
ថាយើងមិនខ្វល់                ឯងជាសត្វប្រភេទណា ។
ព្រោះឯងនេះបាន              រុករានដីស្រែចម្ការ
បំផ្លាញផលា                      ដូចជាហ្វូងចាបនេះដែរ ។
ដូច្នេះឯងត្រូវ                     មានទោសបំផ្លាញស្រូវស្រែ
មិនអាចគេចកែ                 បង្វែរសុំលើកទោសឡើយ ៕
ដើរជាមួយចោរ ទោះបីយើងមិនមែនជាចោរ
ក៏គេចោទថាចោរដែរ

Friday, December 21, 2012

រឿងល្បើកនិងរឿងនិទាន

រឿង តាចាស់និងក្មេងលេងទឹក

មានក្មេងប្រុសម្នាក់ បានចុះទៅមុជទឹកទន្លេ នៅក្បែរគល់ស្ពានជ្រោយ
ចង្វា ។ នៅពេលដែលវាកំពុងមុជ និងហែលទឹកលេងយ៉ាងសប្បាយនោះ
ខ្សែទឹកហូរ បានហូរគួចយកវា ឲ្យឃ្លាតពីមាត់ច្រាំង កាន់តែឆ្ងាយទៅៗ ។
ក្មេងប្រុសនោះភ័យណាស់ វាបានខំប្រឹងហែលត្រឡប់មករកទឹករាក់
វិញ ។ ប៉ុន្តែ ទោះបីជាវា ខំប្រឹងហែលយ៉ាងណាក៏ដោយ ក៏វាមិនអាច
យកឈ្នះ ខ្សែទឹកហូរបានឡើយ ។ នៅពេលដែលវាដឹងថា មិនអាច
ហែលត្រឡប់ មកកាន់មាត់កំពង់វិញបាន ក្មេងប្រុសក៏បានស្រែកហៅ
ទៅតាចាស់ម្នាក់ ដែលកំពុងអង្គុយស្ទូចត្រីនៅក្បែរនោះ ឲ្យជួយវាផង ។
បន្ទាប់ពីតាចាស់ បានឮក្មេងប្រុស ស្រែកហៅឲ្យគាត់ជួយ គាត់បាន
ស្រែកជេរ និងស្តីឲ្យក្មេងនោះយ៉ាងច្រើន អំពីការហែលទឹកលេងរបស់
វា ដោយមិនប្រមាណនូវកម្លាំងរបស់ខ្លួន និងការប្រមាទរបស់វា ចំពោះ
គ្រោះថ្នាក់ធម្មជាតិ ។ នៅពេលដែលតាចាស់ កំពុងតែជេរស្តីឲ្យវា ក្មេង
ប្រុសបានស្រែកអង្វរតាចាស់ថា៖ “លោកតាអើយលោកតា ! ខ្ញុំលង់ទឹក
ស្លាប់ឥឡូវហើយ ។ សូមលោកតាមេត្តាជួយសង្គ្រោះខ្ញុំសិនទៅ រួចហើយសឹមជេរស្តីឲ្យខ្ញុំជាក្រោយ” ៕
សម្តីទូន្មាន ដោយគ្មានការជួយជ្រោមជ្រែង មិនអាចផ្តល់ផល
ប្រយោជន៍ ដល់ជនរងគ្រោះឡើយ ។

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Fables and Folktales

រឿង ទន្សាយនិងអណ្តើក

ទន្សាយមួយបានឃើញអណ្តើកវារគើមៗ នៅលើវាលស្មៅក្បែរមាត់
បឹង ។ វាក៏ដើរទៅជិត ហើយនិយាយចំអកឡកឡាយឲ្យអណ្តើកថា៖
“នែ៎ ! បងអណ្តើក នៅលើលោកនេះ ប្រហែលជាគ្មានសត្វជើងបួនណា
ដើរយឺតជាងបងឯងទេ” ។ អណ្តើកឮទន្សាយនិយាយបង្អាប់វាដូច្នោះ
វាក៏ឆ្លើយឌឺដងដាក់ទន្សាយវិញថា៖ “ប្រាកដជាមាន ! សត្វនោះគឺ
ទន្សាយ” ។ ទន្សាយឮអណ្តើកនិយាយដូច្នោះ វាអស់សំណើចយ៉ាងខ្លាំង
ហើយក៏តបទៅវិញថា៖ “បើអញ្ចឹង យើងគួរតែភ្នាល់គ្នារត់ប្រណាំងសាក
មើល តើអ្នកណាលឿនជាងអ្នកណា ?” ។ “ល្អ !” អណ្តើកឆ្លើយតប
“យើងនឹងរត់ប្រណាំងគ្នា ឲ្យឃើញសខ្មៅម្តង ព្រោះខ្ញុំចង់ដឹងថា តើសត្វ
ទន្សាយ ដែលល្បីថារត់លឿនដូចផ្លេកបន្ទោរនោះ អាចយកជ័យជម្នះ
លើខ្ញុំ បានដែរឬទេ ?” ។
លុះព្រមព្រៀងគ្នាហើយ ទន្សាយនិងអណ្តើកក៏ទៅពឹងខ្លែង ឲ្យជួយធ្វើ
ជាអជ្ញាកណ្តាល ។ បន្ទាប់ពីបានជ្រើសរើសទិសដៅ និងទីកំណត់ក្នុង
ការរត់ប្រណាំងរួច ខ្លែងក៏បានពាំស្លឹកឈើក្រៀម យកមកតម្រៀបគ្នាជា
ជួរ ដើម្បីធ្វើជាខ្សែបន្ទាត់សម្រាប់ចាប់ផ្តើម ។ ខ្លែងបានប្រាប់ទន្សាយនិង
អណ្តើកថា៖ “នៅពេលដែលខ្ញុំរាប់ដល់បី អ្នកទាំងពីរត្រូវចាប់ផ្តើមរត់
ភ្លាម” ។ ប្រាប់រួច ខ្លែងក៏ចាប់ផ្តើមរាប់ៈ “មួយ ! ពីរ ! បី !” ។
បន្ទាប់ពីខ្លែងរាប់ដល់បី ទន្សាយនិងអណ្តើកក៏ចាប់ផ្តើមរត់ប្រណាំងគ្នា
យ៉ាងលឿន ។ គ្រាន់តែមួយប៉ប្រិចភ្នែកប៉ុណ្ណោះ ទន្សាយបានរត់ទៅមុន
អណ្តើក ឆ្ងាយផុតកន្ទុយភ្នែក ។ ដល់ពាក់កណ្តាលទី ទន្សាយក៏ឈប់
ហើយក្រឡេកមើលមកក្រោយ ដើម្បីរកមើលថាតើអណ្តើក បានរត់មក
ដល់ត្រឹមណាហើយ ។ ប៉ុន្តែ វារកមើលមិនឃើញស្រមោលអណ្តើក
ឡើយ ។ ពេលនោះ ទន្សាយគិតក្នុងចិត្តថាៈ ទោះជាអណ្តើករត់មួយថ្ងៃ
ទល់ល្ងាច ក៏មិនអាចមកទាន់វាដែរ ។ លុះគិតឃើញដូច្នោះហើយ
ទន្សាយក៏ចូលទៅដេក នៅក្រោមម្លប់ឈើមួយដើម ។ ភ្លេចៗខ្លួន ទន្សាយក៏ដេកលក់យ៉ាងស្កប់ស្កល់ ។ ពេលភ្ញាក់ដឹងខ្លួនឡើង វាក៏រត់
សំដៅទៅកាន់ទីកំណត់ ។ លុះទៅដល់ទីកំណត់ ទន្សាយស្រាប់តែ
ឃើញអណ្តើក នៅអង្គុយចាំវានៅទីនោះធ្វើព្រងើយ ៕
មិនត្រូវប្រមាទមាក់ងាយ គូបដិបក្ខរបស់ខ្លួនឡើយ

Monday, December 17, 2012

WAR AND GENOCIDE

Life in the Communist Regime (Cont.)
Toward the end of July 1975, all new people who settled in Prek Rumdeng Village were no longer allowed to live with or accept shelter from their counterpart base people. We didn’t know what prompted the Khmer Rouge’s authority to make such move, but it appeared that their motives were to cut us off from leaning on the base people, who were mostly our relatives, for moral, emotional, and material support. Also, putting us, new people, in a segregated group would be easier for the Khmer Rouge authority to spy on us and look for any counter-revolutionary spirit we might exhibit. Counter-revolution was another colorful term we learned from our political indoctrination sessions. Any action or behavior that was not in conformity with the Khmer Rouge’s codes of conduct could be construed as counter-revolution, which was punishable ranging from public criticism to execution depending on how serious the infraction was.


After receiving the directive from Angkar, all new people in Prek Rumdeng were rounded up to be resettled in an agricultural camp which was located on the fringe of the village. The camp was actually the village’s annex built by the people who were evacuated from the suburb of Kompong Cham City earlier during the siege of 1973. After the Khmer Rouge’s victory in April 1975, most of the camp’s inhabitants had either returned to their native villages or moved to a more desirable location. Thus, the houses and huts in the camp had only been abandoned for a few months. Many of the houses were in good condition and required only minor repairs before they could be used as shelters again.

With the help of local villagers, we began to rebuild the agricultural camp into a satellite village of Prek Rumdeng. Each family was given a house or a hut to be repaired and used as shelter depending on the number of people within it. The largest houses measured about 18 by 25 feet. Because we had eight people in our family, we were allocated one of the larger houses to occupy. Aunt Muoy and her husband were given one of the smallest houses located about 100 meters across from us. Our house was located on the very far end of the camp near a man-made lake.

The agricultural village in which we were resettled was built on an empty field. However, despite the emptiness because of lack of trees and garden vegetables, it looked somewhat beautiful. From our vantage point, we could see two rows of equally spaced houses built to face each other over a grassy landscape the size of about two football fields. There were about 30 families or so living in the new village. Most of them were not natives to Prek Rumdeng. They probably stayed in Prek Rumdeng because they couldn’t return to their native villages just like us, or they were city dwellers who were dispersed to the countryside. Besides their immediate or extended family members, none of the new people living in the agricultural village had known one another before. We were a community of strangers who were forced to bond with one another by circumstances. Though we had never explicitly acknowledged it, everyone in the agricultural village knew that we were being made outcasts in a classless society. By making us lived in the agricultural village, the Khmer Rouge authority had, in effect, put us in a proving ground to see who would be suitable to join their revolution, and who would not. To put it in plain language, the Khmer Rouge’s motive was to weed out the enemies of Angkar amongst us, new people.

Once we got settled in the agricultural village, the Khmer Rouge authority started to divide us into groups of workforces according to our ages, not abilities. There were four categories of workforces: children, youth, adult, and elderly. Except for my little brother, Buntha, who was too young at that time, my immediate older brother, Sama, and I were assigned to join the children’s workforce; Sokha, Heang, and Hong joined the youth; mother joined the adult; and my father, because of his weakening health, was allowed to work within the elderly workforce. As part of our daily work, Sama and I were assigned to look after and feed two young oxen; Sokha, Heang, and Hong were assigned to work in the youth group clearing lands to plant yams and cassava near Mount Pean Jeang; mother was assigned to work in the rice fields, while father joined the elderly workforce building baskets and other farming tools in the village center. Every morning, my mother would get up very early to prepare food for my three older brothers, Hong, Heang, and Sokha to take along with them as they were working far away from home. The rest of us were working nearby the village, so we would come home at noon to have lunch together.

On our first day of work, Sama and I showed up at the villager’s barn, where the young oxen were kept, to take them to the fields to graze. The two oxen were about one year apart in their birth dates, and the older one was about two-and-a-half years old. The owner gave us a short prep talk on how the two oxen behave. He assured us that they were very easy to handle, despite their playfulness. After the man finished his prep talk, we took the two oxen to graze in the field. Sama took the older ox and led the way while I follow him with the younger one. It was my first time handling farm animals. I felt both nervous and excited. However, my anxiety began to subside as we arrived in the grassy patches where we let the two oxen graze.

During our stay in Kompong Cham City, between 1970-1975, Sama had an opportunity to spend some time on a farm belonging to our aunt, Om Ly, in Chamkar Leur where he had been exposed to farm animals. So he gave me some pointers on how to handle farm animals while we were watching the oxen graze. The day went by rather uneventfully. When the day drew to a close, we took the oxen to a lake near our house to wash them. Afterward, we brought them back to the barn. We told the owner how easy-going and obedient the two oxen were. The man nodded his head approvingly.

Everyday, Sama and I would go to the village to pick up our beasts of burden to look after. Sometimes we were assigned to care for a different pairs of oxen. However, most of the time, we were given the two young oxen to look after. After several days of doing cowboy’s work, Sama and I noticed that most of the villager’s kids, with whom we were working, were handling multiple animals at a time. Each kid had at least two oxen or cows to look after while we, children of new people, each had only one cow or ox to take care of. One day, Sama and I brought our observation of the differences in our work habits to our father’s attention. After listening to our observation, my father suggested that if we wanted to look more like villager’s kids we could have only one person going to the barn to fetch and return the oxen. That way, the villagers would see only one of us handling the two oxen. Once in the fields, each of us would take care of an ox. The plan sounded good. Hence, we followed through by having Sama gone to fetch the two oxen in the morning and I would return them back to the barn in the evening.

On the first evening when I was returning both oxen to the barn by myself, I had a rather hard time handling the two beasts alone. The small path, which led into the village where the barn was, was flanked by rice fields. Just before I took charge of the two oxen, Sama showed me how to give commands to the oxen by flipping the harnesses over their backs and pull them gently. If I wanted them to turn or veer to the right, I should flip the harnesses to their right and jerk them gently. After receiving the instruction, I set off alone along the small path with the two oxen in front of me. Just as I was about to reach the village, I saw another person herding a couple of oxen in the opposite direction. Because the path was too small, the animals had to walk in a single file as they walked pass one another. In a rather nervous situation, I tried my best to flip the harnesses over the oxen’s backs and nudged them gently to keep them from walking into the rice fields. Somehow I lost control of the situation and let loose one of the oxen which was walking far ahead of me. I tried to reach for its harness but it was a few steps ahead of me. So I dropped the other harness and made a dash for it. Once I got hold of the runaway ox, the other one decided not to walk forward; and taking advantage of the chaotic situation, he turned to graze on the young rice shoots nearby. I was both worried and furious at the behavior of that sneaky ox. If someone had seen that I let the ox eat the rice shoots, I would surely be criticized or disciplined. Quickly, I rushed back to pull that sneaky ox out of the rice field. As I was pulling it away from the rice shoots, the mischievous ox gave me a surprise attack by charging at me. In a fight or flight reaction, I jumped out of the way and ended up in the muddy rice field. Determined not to let the beasts get the best of me, I made my way back onto the dirt path, summoned whatever courage I had left, and brought the two oxen to the barn.

When I arrived home that evening, I told Sama and everyone what happened along the way while I was bringing the oxen to the barn. After listening to my ordeal, my father told me to carry a small tree branch which could be used as a whip to deter the young ox from charging at me, for he thought that the ox’s charge was just a bluff. He told me to whip it with the tree branch if the mischievous ox dared to challenge my commands. Also, to avoid any mishap I might encounter in the future, like the one I encountered this evening, I should make the older ox walk in front of me and pull the younger one behind me. In this way, both the oxen and I would walk in a single file; and it would be easy for me to pass by any oncoming ox traffic. So with the new instruction and renewed confidence, I took up the challenges of bringing the oxen to the barn alone, by myself again.

The tug of war between the young oxen and I continued to play out almost every evening, despite my new strategy in commanding them. The problems appeared to arise from misunderstanding between man and beasts about who was in charge. The beasts seemed to know perfectly that I was the boss. But every time I made a mistake, be it failing to flip the harnesses over their backs in time to make them turn toward a desired direction or slipping off the rice field’s dike, one of them, especially the younger one, always took the opportunity to grab a mouthful of the rice shoots which were growing along the path. As soon as I raised the tree branch to threaten it with punishment for grazing on the rice shoots, the mischievous ox would jump back and run away from me. In the process, I would be dragged along with it as I didn’t want to let go of the harness. Adding insult to injury, the young ox occasionally charged at me whenever it felt that I was giving it a hard time. Despite my father’s assurance that the young ox’s charges were very likely just bluffs, my instinctive reactions to them were to jump out of the way first and find out later whether those threatening charges were real or bluffs. As a result, I found myself in the muddy rice field wading in knee deep water very often while the two oxen were standing on the dike or the dirt path looking on rather amused.

As our struggle for supremacy went on for a while, the young oxen and I reached a mutual understanding when I decided to follow my instinct and used a different approach in dealing with their behavior. Instead of using tree branches to discipline them when they were misbehaving, I would just pull them by their harnesses and persuade them not to act according to their impulses. In addition, I would frequently pat them on the back or scratch their necks when we were relaxing under the shade of trees during midday siesta. The new approach worked surprisingly well. Despite occasional rancor, the two oxen seemed to follow my commands rather readily; or at least they were less resistant to them.

(To be Continued)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Customs of Cambodia (By Chou Ta-Kuan)

15) Skin Diseases

Skin diseases in Cambodia are rampant because people get in touch with water a lot. Many people have herpes, and they seem to feel no shame about it. I heard that people who had herpes tend to take a bath immediately after having sexual intercourse, which caused the deaths of several people due to dysentery and cholera. In the marketplace, people sell medicines to cure various kinds of illnesses. But those medicines are different from Chinese medicines. There are also sorcerers who offer their craft for healing of ailments. How pathetic!

16) Funeral
The Cambodians do not use coffin for funeral. When a person died, people would use clothes and mats to wrap around the corpse and carry it into the forest to be left there for wild animals to consume. Sometimes, a funeral procession completed with music and flags was performed to honor the departed person. Along the way toward the resting place, relatives of the decease throw out popcorns or rice cereals as ritual offering to the supernatural beings. If wild animals consumed the corpse immediately after it has been left in the forest, it is believed that the spirit of the decease is at peace. However, if there were no animals coming to consume the corpse, it is believed that the spirit of the decease has not been free from sins.

Nowadays, some people cremated their deceased loved one. Those who have Chinese blood in their ethnic backgrounds, they no longer wear white clothes to mourn the death of their parents. They only shave their heads, for males, and cut off some hair on the foreheads, for females, to indicate mourning for deceased parents. As for Kings, there are mausoleums for their burials, but I do not know if their bodies were buried in whole or just the ashes.

17) Agricultural Activities
The Cambodians could probably cultivate 3 to 4 crops annually, for all four seasons in Cambodia are suitable for agricultural activities. Weatherwide, Cambodia has never had snow or frozen rain. In each year, rain falls for about 6 months, and the other 6 months would go without any rain. From the 4th to the 9th month, the rain would fall in every afternoon. During this period, the fresh water sea (Tonle Sap Lake) begins to swell and rise up to the height of about 70 to 80 hathas (100-115ft.). Most trees growing around the lake’s shores are all submerged. Only the tops of their branches remain visible. As for the people who live near or on the lake’s shores, they all move their shelters to settle on higher ground.

From the 10th to the 3rd month of the following year, there are no rainfalls. During this period, the fresh water sea (Tonle Sap Lake) recedes and become shallow. At the deepest point, the bottom of the lake is only 3 or 5 hatha deep which is navigable for only small ship. At that point, the people begin to resettle the lakeshores where they could grow rice and other crops near the shorelines. By the time the rice is harvested, it is also time for the water in the lake to begin to rise up again. Farmers who cultivate crops along the lakeshores clear and maintain their individual plots. They do not use oxen to plow their field. (In this case, they might be using water buffaloes, Chou Ta-Kuan did not elaborate on it). Their hoes and sickles, although look similar, are not like those used in China. There is one kind of wild rice which grows really fast in the water. If the water rose up to 10 hatha height, this rice would grow as much in length. People grow this kind of rice during the flooding season.

The Cambodians do not use human wastes in their vegetable or rice seedling beds, for they consider it repugnant. The Chinese who have come to Cambodia never told the Cambodians of the human waste containers used in China to collect manure to turn it into fertilizer, for they fear that the Cambodians might shun them. The Cambodians dig a pitch in the ground and build a small thatched hut over it to be used as toilet. Once the pitch is filled up, they would cover it up and dig a new one. After going to the toilet, folks here always go into a pond to wash themselves. They use their left hand to do the washing job while reserving the right hand for eating. When the Cambodians see the Chinese go to the toilet and using paper towels to perform the hygienic functions, they are startled about it and feel uneasy about allowing those Chinese entering their homes. The women folks in this country pee standing up just like men. How funny!
(Excerpt from the Cambodian Royal Chronicle, To be continued)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

រឿងល្បើកនិងរឿងនិទាន

រឿង សត្វត្រចៀកកាំនិងហ្វូងចាប

(បទពាក្យ ៧)
ត្រចៀកកាំមួយរកចំណី                   លើវាលស្មៅខ្ចីជុំហ្វូងចាប
ឃើញអ្នកចម្ការប្រឹងគាស់កាប់         កកាយដីចាប់ដាំក្រចៅ ។
ឃើញហើយស្រែកប្រាប់ទៅហ្វូងចាប     ថាអ្នកគួរឆាបចុះចូលទៅ
ចឹកស៊ីឲ្យអស់គ្រាប់ក្រចៅ           ក្រែងមានសោកសៅនៅថ្ងៃក្រោយ ។
ចូរមិត្តប្រយ័តអ្នកចម្ការ                    កុំភ្លេចអាត្មានាំថ្លោះធ្លោយ
ជាគ្រោះធំណាស់បើបណ្តោយ         ឲ្យគ្រាប់ក្រចៅដុះលាស់ធំ ។
ហ្វូងចាបឮហើយបែរធ្វើហី               ចឹកស៊ីចំណីតាមពួកក្រុម
ច្រៀងលេងសប្បាយឥតបារម្ភ         ក្រចៅបែកគុម្ពលាស់បំព្រង ។
លុះដើមក្រចៅល្មមប្រើការ               ពូអ្នកចម្ការកាត់សកចង
វេញធ្វើជាលប់សំណាញ់ក្រង         ទាក់ចាបទាំងហ្វូងលើវាលស្មៅ ។
ត្រចៀកកាំពោលថាចាបអើយ      គ្រោះថ្នាក់ដល់ហើយព្រោះល្ងង់ខ្លៅ
នេះជាវិបត្តិគ្រាប់ក្រចៅ                 នាំមកដល់នូវក្តីវិនាស ៕

មិនត្រូវបណ្តោយឲ្យអ្វីដែលអាចនាំទុក្ខដល់ជីវិតយើង រីក
លូតលាស់ដុះដាលបានឡើយ ។

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Fables and Folktales

រឿង ស្ត្រីមេម៉ាយនិងកូនប្រុសប្រាំនាក់
ស្ត្រីមេម៉ាយម្នាក់ មានកូនប្រុសប្រាំនាក់ ។ នៅពេលដែលកូនគាត់ធំពេញ
វ័យ គាត់បានរៀបចំទុកដាក់ពួកគេ ឲ្យមានគ្រួសារ និងចែកថវិកាឲ្យកូន
ទាំងនោះ ទិញផ្ទះនៅរៀងៗខ្លួន ។ លុះស្ត្រីមេម៉ាយនោះ មានវ័យចាស់
បន្តិច កូនគាត់ទាំងប្រាំនាក់ តែងតែនាំគ្នា យកម្ហូបចំណីមកជូនគាត់
ស្ទើរតែរាល់ថ្ងៃ ។ ថ្ងៃមួយ ស្ត្រីមេម៉ាយនោះបានគិតថាៈ ខ្លួនគាត់ចាស់
ហើយ ឯការរស់នៅរបស់គាត់ ក៏ត្រូវបានកូនៗរបស់គាត់ផ្គត់ផ្គង់ មិនឲ្យ
មានខ្វះកន្លះបន្តិចសោះឡើយ ។ ដូច្នេះ គាត់គួរតែយកមាសប្រាក់ និង
ទ្រព្យសម្បត្តិរបស់គាត់ ដែលនៅសេសសល់ទាំងប៉ុន្មាន ឲ្យទៅកូនៗ
របស់គាត់ យកទៅធ្វើដើមទុនរកស៊ីវិញ ទើបប្រសើរ ។ លុះគិតឃើញ
ដូច្នោះហើយ ស្ត្រីមេម៉ាយក៏ហៅកូនគាត់ទាំងប្រាំនាក់ មកជួបជុំគ្នា រួច
ហើយ គាត់ក៏ចែកទ្រព្យសម្បត្តិរបស់គាត់ទាំងប៉ុន្មាន ឲ្យទៅពួកគេ
អស់ទៅ ។
បន្ទាប់ពីស្ត្រីមេម៉ាយ បានចែកទ្រព្យសម្បត្តិរបស់គាត់ ឲ្យទៅកូនទាំង
ប្រាំនាក់អស់ហើយ កូនទាំងនោះស្រាប់តែឈប់រវីរវល់ ក្នុងការទំនុក
បំរុងគាត់ ដូចកាលពីពេលមុន ។ មិនយូរប៉ុន្មាន គាត់ក៏បានឈ្វេង
យល់ អំពីគំនិតរបស់កូនគាត់ ។ ពួកគេខិតខំយកម្ហូបចំណី មកជូនគាត់
ស្ទើរតែរៀងរាល់ថ្ងៃ កាលពីពេលមុននោះ គឺគ្រាន់តែយកចិត្តគាត់ ដើម្បី
ឲ្យគាត់ចែកទ្រព្យសម្បត្តិរបស់គាត់ ដែលនៅសេសសល់ទាំងប៉ុន្មាន
ឲ្យទៅពួកគេតែប៉ុណ្ណោះ ។ លុះគិតមកដល់ត្រង់នេះ គាត់មានសេចក្តី
តូចចិត្តយ៉ាងខ្លាំង ព្រោះអំពើរល្អ ដែលកូនៗរបស់គាត់ បានធ្វើចំពោះ
គាត់ទាំងប៉ុន្មាន គឺជាទង្វើ “ហុតទឹក សម្លឹងកាក” សោះ ។ ប៉ុន្តែ គាត់
មិនបាននិយាយអ្វី ឲ្យកូនគាត់ដឹង ថាគាត់មានការអាក់អន់ចិត្ត នឹងពួក
គេឡើយ ។
ថ្ងៃមួយ មានម្រាក់ជិតស្និទ្ធម្នាក់ បានមកសួរសុខទុក្ខគាត់ ។ ក្រោយពី
បានសំណេះសំណាលគ្នាអស់មួយសន្ទុះ ស្ត្រីមេម៉ាយក៏បាននិយាយ
ប្រាប់ម្រាក់របស់គាត់ អំពីទឹកចិត្តប្រែប្រួល របស់កូនគាត់ទាំងប្រាំ
នាក់ ។ បន្ទាប់ពីបានស្តាប់ រឿងរ៉ាវរបស់ស្ត្រីមេម៉ាយរួច ម្រាក់របស់គាត់
ក៏និយាយទៅកាន់គាត់ថា៖ “សូមបងកុំព្រួយចិត្តពេក រឿងនេះ ខ្ញុំមាន
មធ្យោបាយមួយ ដែលអាចជួយបងបាន ។ ស្អែកនេះ សូមបងហៅ
កូនៗរបស់បង មកញ៉ាំបាយពេលល្ងាច ជួបជុំគ្នានៅផ្ទះបង ។ ពេល
នោះ ខ្ញុំនឹងនាំយកទូដែក និងកូនសោរមួយ មកប្រគល់ជូនបង ។ បង
ត្រូវចាំថា កូនសោរនោះ គប្បីដាក់ទុកជាប់នឹងខ្លួនបងជានិច្ច មិនឲ្យ
នរណាយកទៅបើកមើល របស់នៅក្នុងទូដែកនោះឡើយ ។ នៅពេល
ដែលកូនរបស់បងសួរថា ហេតុអ្វីបានជាខ្ញុំ យកទូដែកនេះមកជូនបង
បងត្រូវប្រាប់ពួកគេថាៈ វាជាមាសប្រាក់ ដែលខ្ញុំបានជំពាក់បង យូរយារ
ណាស់មកហើយ ហើយពេលនេះ ទើបនឹងយកមកសងបងវិញ” ។
លុះព្រមព្រៀងគ្នារួចហើយ ស្ត្រីទាំងពីរ ក៏ចាត់ចែងរៀបចំ ធ្វើតាម
គម្រោងការរបស់ខ្លួន ។ នៅពេលដែលបានដឹងថា ម្តាយរបស់ពួកគេ
នៅសល់មាសប្រាក់ចំនួនមួយទូដែកទៀត កូនប្រុសទាំងប្រាំនាក់
របស់ស្ត្រីមេម៉ាយនោះ ក៏នាំគ្នាយកម្ហូបចំណី មកផ្គាប់ផ្គុនគាត់សាឡើង
វិញ ។ ដើម្បីយកចិត្តស្ត្រីមេម៉ាយនោះ កូនៗរបស់គាត់ មិនត្រឹមតែយក
ម្ហូបចំណីមកជូនគាត់ទេ ពួកគេថែមទាំងយកឡាន មកដឹកគាត់ដើរ
កំសាន្តទៀតផង ។ មិនតែប៉ុណ្ណោះ នៅពេលដែលស្ត្រីមេម៉ាយ បាន
ទទួលអនិច្ចកម្មទៅ កូនប្រុសរបស់គាត់ទាំងប្រាំនាក់ ថែមទាំង
ចំណាយប្រាក់យ៉ាងច្រើន ដើម្បីធ្វើបុណ្យជូនគាត់ យ៉ាងអធិកអធម ។
បន្ទាប់ពីរៀបចំធ្វើបុណ្យ បញ្ចុះសពម្តាយរួចហើយ កូនប្រុសទាំងប្រាំ
នាក់ របស់ស្ត្រីមេម៉ាយនោះ ក៏នាំគ្នាយកកូនសោរទៅបើកទូដែក
ដើម្បីយកមាសប្រាក់មកចែកគ្នា ។ ប៉ុន្តែ នៅពេលដែលពួកគេ បើក
ទូដែកនោះឡើង ពួកគេមិនឃើញមានអ្វី ក្រៅពីគ្រាប់គ្រួសមួយស្បោង
និងក្រដាសមួយសន្លឹក ដែលមានសរសេរពាក្យដូចតទៅ៖

ឲ្យទានតាំងចិត្តស្មោះ           កុំអាឡោះអាល័យស្ងួន

ទ្រព្យនេះនឹងនាំខ្លួន              ទៅបរលោកពុំសោះសូន្យ ។

                                               (ច្បាប់កេរ្តិ៍កាល)

Friday, December 7, 2012

រឿងល្បើកនិងរឿងនិទាន

រឿង តោនិងកណ្តុរ

កណ្តុរតូចមួយ កំពុងតែដើររកចំណីនៅក្នុងព្រៃ ។ វាដើរភ្លេចខ្លួន ក៏ទៅ
ជួបនឹងតោដ៏ធំមួយ ។ រំពេចនោះ តោបានលោតមកសង្គ្រប់ចាប់កណ្តុរ
តូចនោះជាប់ ដើម្បីយកវាធ្វើជាចំណី ។ កណ្តុរភ័យណាស់ តែវាខំប្រឹង
ទប់ស្មារតី ហើយនិយាយអង្វរតោថា៖ “ខ្លួនខ្ញុំតូចណាស់ ទោះបីជាបង
ឆីខ្ញុំ ក៏វាមិនស្កៀបជើងធ្មេញដែរ ។ ដូច្នេះ សូមបងដោះលែងខ្ញុំទៅ ថ្ងៃ
ក្រោយ ប្រសិនបើបងជួបគ្រោះអាសន្ន ខ្ញុំនឹងជួយសង្គ្រោះបងវិញជាមិន
ខាន” ។ តោឮកណ្តុរពោលពាក្យដូច្នោះ វានឹកអស់សំណើចយ៉ាងខ្លាំង
ព្រោះថា កណ្តុរមានទំហំតូចជាងវារាប់រយដង ហើយថែមទាំងជាសត្វទន់
ខ្សោយទៀត ។ ដូច្នេះ មានតែតោសង្គ្រោះកណ្តុរទើបសម ត្រង់កណ្តុរ
សង្គ្រោះតោវិញនោះ ហាក់ដូចជាគ្មានផ្លូវទេ ។ ប៉ុន្តែ ដោយហេតុតែកណ្តុរ
តូចពេក ហើយពេលនោះ តោមិនសូវឃ្លានចំណីផង វាក៏ដោះលែងកណ្តុរ
នោះទៅ ។ ច្រើនថ្ងៃក្រោយមក នៅពេលដែលតោ កំពុងលបចាប់សត្វ
ម្រឹគមួយនៅក្បែរមាត់ព្រៃ វាបានជាន់ចំអន្ទាក់ព្រាន ។ អន្ទាក់បានវាត់ជាប់
កជើងរបស់វា ។ តោខំរើបម្រះយ៉ាងខ្លាំង តែមិនអាចផ្តាច់ខ្សែអន្ទាក់នោះ
បានឡើយ ។ ដោយឈឺចាប់ខ្លាំងពេក តោក៏ស្រែករោទិ៍លាន់ឮកងរំពង
ពេញព្រៃ ។ នៅពេលដែលកណ្តុរបានឮសម្លេងស្រែករោទិ៍របស់តោ វាក៏
រត់យ៉ាងលឿនមកកាន់កន្លែងកើតហេតុ ដើម្បីពិនិត្យមើល ថាតើតោមាន
វិបត្តិអ្វី ទើបបានជាស្រែករោទិ៍ឮសូរកងរំពងពេញព្រៃដូច្នេះ ។ បន្ទាប់ពី
បានឃើញតោជាប់អន្ទាក់រើមិនរួច កណ្តុរក៏ចូលទៅកកេរផ្តាច់ខ្សែអន្ទាក់ ដោះលែងតោឲ្យរួចផុតពីក្តីអន្តរាយ ៕

អ្នកមានរក្សាខ្សត់              ដូចសំពត់ព័ទ្ធពីក្រៅ

អ្នកប្រាជ្ញរក្សាខ្លៅ              ដូចសំពៅនូវសំប៉ាន ។

Monday, December 3, 2012

WAR AND GENOCIDE

Life in the Communist Regime

During the first few months of our stay in Prek Rumdeng, we saw a steady stream of evacuating people walking along the dirt road passing through the village. Some of those evacuees came from as far as Phnom Penh. One day, as my father walked up onto the sidewalk to look at people who were passing by, just in case he might find someone he knew, he saw a young man who looked like my oldest brother, Hong. At that point, the young man had already walked pass him. So my father decided to call out his name. Sure enough, it was Hong. The two men were overcome with excitement. Neither one of them was expected to have come across each other. Their chance encounter was truly a godsend, the kind of luck that could only happen once in a blue moon.

After his defeat in 1973, Hong was reassigned to work as a security guard at the Chatomuk Conference Center in Phnom Penh. He remained there until the Khmer Rouge took ever Phnom Penh. While the people in Phnom Penh were being evacuated, Hong found a couple to whom he was introduced by a friend of his and eventually joined them in the exodus. He traveled along with them by disguising himself as one of their children. It was a rather smart move on his part given the fact that the Khmer Rouge had been setting up checkpoints around the country to round up single men whom they suspected of being soldiers of the former regime. When my father met him, Hong was still traveling with the couple along with one of his friends. Upon learning that my brother, Hong, had found his family, the couple was so happy for him and our reunion. My father asked them to stay with us for a few days before continuing on their journey, but the couple declined because they wanted to pushed on to reach their destination at Mount Pean Jeang, which was located only about a half day’s walk from where we were. After a brief exchange of gratitude, my brother bade farewell to his surrogate parents.

A few days later, Om Voan’s children arrived from Phnom Penh as well. They were among the last trickle of people to have crisscrossed the country to resettle in their former hometown or other places of preference. Soon after, no one was allowed to travel from place to place without written permission (traveling pass) from local or regional Khmer Rouge cadres. Those who were caught traveling without proper permission papers could be arrested and jailed or, in some cases, executed by the Khmer Rouge’s authority. Such was the rule that we had to learn very quickly. However, restriction on traveling was just the beginning. There were a lot more rules that we had to obey without question.

Angkar’s Viney or the Organization’s rules (in short, the Khmer Rouge’s rules), were absolute, and they were not something to be questioned. As we soon learned, those who disobeyed or committed infractions against the Khmer Rouge’s rules would usually pay with their lives. Thus, we began to take great care regarding our daily conduct in order to avoid being seen as not obeying the organization’s rules. One dilemma for us and the rest of the evacuees was that those rules were not written. They were what local Khmer Rouge’s cadres and villagers told us. As a result, we had to follow whatever directions the local Khmer Rouge cadres and villagers ordered us to do.

One of the first steps we took to comply with the Khmer Rouge’s rules was to transform ourselves into farmers, for the new society envisioned by the Khmer Rouge was supposed to be classless. Unlike industrialized countries, Cambodia’s economy was largely based on agriculture; and the so-called proletarian class in Cambodia was composed mostly of farmers and peasants. Therefore, joining the ranks of farmers and peasants would be a good first step in integrating into and becoming members of the Khmer Rouge’s classless society. At first, we were rather confused as to what the term classless meant. But we soon realized that by classless the Khmer Rouge meant that people were no longer allowed to have options in making decisions regarding matters concerning their lives. Everything would be decided upon by the organization or Angkar, the almighty monster representing the collective Khmer Rouge’s leadership, from village’s chiefs to the head of state.

As we transformed ourselves into members of a classless society, one of the most vivid and enduring memories was following the Khmer Rouge’s dress code: black. To adhere to the spirit of a classless society, the Khmer Rouge made everyone dress in black uniform. There was no exception to the rule. Also, no fashionable clothes were allowed. Every black uniform had to be modeled after peasant’s pajama garb. Hence in a frenzy to rid ourselves of the outlawed clothes, we pulled out every piece of our clothing and tried to figure out how to make them comply with the Khmer Rouge’s uniform regulation. As city dwellers, we didn’t usually wear black clothes. Most of our clothes were in various colors. Furthermore, our dress-code dilemma was compounded by the fact that we couldn’t find black clothes to replace our colorful ones, for the Khmer Rouge had already abolished money and market.

While we were pondering how to find a solution to our predicament, Om Voan broached an idea that we could dye our clothes black by using a tree fruit called makloeur which, to our relief, was found in Prek Rumdeng. One of the makloeur trees even grew amid other fruit trees in Om Voan’s garden. So my older brothers went up its branches and collected enough of its fruit to dye our clothes black. Thanks to the magic power of makloeur fruit, once we soaked our clothes in their crushed-up solution, they all turned black. Our clothes were transformed, and so were we, reluctantly!

After dyeing our clothes black, we were able to solve only half of our predicament, for a number of those clothes were considered too stylish to meet the taste of the Khmer Rouge’s classless society. Thus, we had to re-tailor some of our clothes to make them look more like peasant’s pajama garb. I remembered helping my mother undo the original sewing of a number of our clothes, and she had to cut them into the shape of a peasant’s pajama uniform and re-sew them by hand because there were no sewing machines available. My poor mother spent many days re-tailoring and re-sewing our clothes in order to comply with the Khmer Rouge’s dress code. She occasionally got pricked by the needle and her finger bled as a result. Despite the pain and the bleeding, my mother never gave up on re-tailoring our clothes to meet the Khmer Rouge’s dress code requirement. It was as if she knew that to survive under the Khmer Rouge’s rule, one must endure the pain being inflicted upon.

During our stay in Prek Rumdeng, we were required to participate in agricultural work activities with local villagers so as to acquaint ourselves with the new lifestyle to which we would be subjected. By that point, the Khmer Rouge had classified the population into two categories: base people, and new people (Projeajun Moulathan ning Projeajun Thmey). Base people were those who lived in the countryside or under the Khmer Rouge’s control areas during the civil war. As for the new people, anyone who did not live under the Khmer Rouge’s control areas prior to their victory would fall into this category. All new people had to learn from and listen to base people in order to assimilate and integrate into the new society which would be based on socialism and communism. As we were to learn later on, the Khmer Rouge’s classification of our status was a cynical ploy to subjugate one group of people under the whim of another. In reality, this classification was a form of collective physical and mental punishment meted out to the new people whom the Khmer Rouge considered tainted with capitalist influences. So much for a classless society!

In addition to learning from and listening to base people, all new people were also subjected to weekly political indoctrination sessions on socialism and communism. Though these political indoctrination sessions appeared to be designed to help orient and integrate new people into the new society, the underlying rhetoric of the sessions was unmistakably aimed at persecuting them. The word enemy (khmang) had been prominently featured in every political indoctrination session. In the Khmer Rouge rhetorical jargon, enemy existed everywhere. Therefore, everyone must be vigilant and actively seek to rid himself or herself of this enemy. And what were the criteria for consideration as an enemy? Nobody knew for sure. But as we were to learn later, any infraction, be it going to work late or failing to attend a meeting, could be considered enemy of the organization or Angkar, which was the worst situation to be in since being considered Angkar’s enemy was like being put on death row.

(To be continued)

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Customs of Cambodia (By Chou Ta-Kuan)

13) New Year’s Celebration

The Cambodians choose the 10th month of the Chinese calendar, which they called katek (Kadek) as their first month. In front of the palace, people build a large pavilion which could hold more than a thousand people inside. The pavilion is decorated with wreathes and flowers. In front of the pavilion about 200 hatthas (one hattha is about one and a half feet), another pavilion, about 200 hattha tall, was built in the adjacent field. At night, several fireworks were lit up to celebrate the New Year. In the tall pavilion, the King was seated to observe the firework displays which were about 100 li’s away but people can see and hear them clearly. The fireworks sound like artillery gun salutes which could be heard all over the city.

Court officials and their relatives are all holding candles, beetle leaves and nuts bouquets, and other celebratory wreathes. It looks like a very expensive undertaking. The King has also invited foreign dignitaries to attend the New Year celebration. The ceremony lasted for a fortnight.

In each month, there was always a ceremony or celebration of some sorts. For example, in the 4th month, people celebrate bos chhoung (a game in which a group of young men and women using scarves tying into a ball to through at each other. Notice: This game is still being played nowadays during New Year celebration). In the 9th month, people hold Ab Lak (a form of parade procession in front of the palace). In the 5th month, people hold royal bathing and a mock boat racing (rowing boat on land). During boat rowing ceremony, the King would watch it from the terrace of a pavilion. In the 7th month, during which rice harvesting begin, people would hold ceremonial burning of rice mount. The rices are brought through the southern gate of the city and piled up in designated places to be burned as worshiping gestures to Buddha. There are a lot of women riding in ox carts or on elephant’s backs to attend the ceremony. As for the King, he does not attend this ceremony. In the 8th month, people celebrate Ai-lam (dancing ceremony). The best Ai-lam’s (Chhai Yam?) dancers and musicians are invited to perform in the palace every day. Beside the celebrations mentioned above, there are also animal sporting shows such as pigs fighting, elephants wrestling, etc. During these animals sporting shows, one could see the King and some invited foreign dignitaries in attendance. The animal sporting shows lasted for 10 days. There are also ceremonial activities in other months which I failed to write down. Like China, Cambodia also has astrologers who could predict natural phenomena such as solar and lunar eclipses. If there were a solstice, one month would be counted twice in the yearly cycle. Each night is divided into 5 watches. And each week consists of 7 days which was known as a cycle.

The Cambodians do not use family names. Neither had they recorded their birthdates. In general, people use the name of the day in which they were born as their name. According to the Zodiac prediction, there are also certain days that were considered good or safe for traveling to certain cardinal directions. The women folks could also tell or select days for conducting daily rituals. Like Chinese, the Cambodians use animals to represent each of the 12 Zodiac years. However, they call those years in different names. For example, the year of the horse is called: poksay, the year of the rooster: lak, the year of the pig: chek-lu, the year of the ox: ku, etc.

14) Judicial Procedures
Although disputes between people could be common and sometimes trivial, they are worth noticing.
Disputes between people are usually presented before the King for adjudication. Upon outcomes of the verdict, the guilty party is fined with payment in gold according to the severity of his or her conviction. If the guilty person refused to comply with the sentence or committed serious crime, he or she would be buried in a ditch covered with dirt and stones. No capital punishment is carried out.

For lesser crimes, the convicts would be punished by having their fingers, toes or noses cut off. There are no laws regarding adultery and gambling. If a man is caught sleeping with someone’s wife, he would be punished by having his foot squeezed between two wooden planks called kneab. As for his accomplices, if there were any, they would not be punished. Those who swindled others would also be charged of their crimes. If a dead body were found within the city’s premise, people would just tied up the corpse and dragged it away from the city to be left in a desolate field without having autopsy done. If a thief is caught, he would be imprisoned and interrogated about the crimes. However, there is one ridiculous thing about the matter. Namely, if a person is accused of being a thief and he or she denied the charge, the suspect would be made to dip his or her hand in boiling oil. If the suspect is guilty, his or her hand would be burned. However, if the suspect is not guilty, his or her hand would not be affected by the ordeal. On the other hand, if two people were accusing each other of committing malice and no one could come up with convincing evidence that the other party is guilty, both persons would be ordered to sit in the small cells of an edifice. Each person involved in the dispute was made to sit inside a separate cell for several days or until someone shows the sign of illness which would be an indication of guilt. It is believed that if the person is innocent, the confinement in the small cell would not affect his or her health. This form of conflict resolution is called divine justice. There are 12 small stone edifices in front of the palace built specifically for such purpose.
(Excerpt from the Cambodian Royal Chronicle; To be continued)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Fables and Folktales

រឿង សត្វតោនិងតាកាប់ឧស

(បទ កាកគតិ)
តោមួយកំណាច         ឃោរឃៅកោងកាច            អាងអំណាចយស
ចង់បានកូនស្រី          តាអ្នកកាប់ឧស                    យកមករួមរស់
                                   ជាភរិយា ។
ខ្លាចអំណាចតោ         តាភ័យឆោឡោ                    អេះអុញរួញរា
មិនហ៊ានប្រកែក         នូវការទាមទារ                    តោចិត្តពាលា
                                   សាហាវយង់ឃ្នង ។
ដោយប្រាជ្ញាវៃ           តាគិតលកលៃ                     ប្រឡងសាកល្បង
ឆ្លើយប្រាប់ទៅតោ     ព្រមតាមបំណង                  តែសូមតោផង
                                   នូវលក្ខខណ្ឌមួយ ។
តើលក្ខខណ្ឌអ្វី ?         តោហាស្រដី                      គ្មានបារម្ភព្រួយ
អាងអំណាចឫទ្ធិ         តោអញតែមួយ                  តាអើយកុំព្រួយ
                                    ធ្វើបានទាំងអស់ ។
តាថាកូនស្រី               នាងនៅក្មេងខ្ចី                 សូមលោកសន្តោស
មានការភ័យខ្លាច        ចង្កូមទានប្រុស               សុំកាត់ឲ្យអស់
                                    ដោយក្តីមេត្តា ។
ម្យ៉ាងខ្លាចក្រញាំ         ក្រចកឆ្វេងស្តាំ                 វែងស្រួចអស្ចារ្យ
សូមកាត់ទាំងអស់        មុនថ្ងៃរៀបការ                ដោយករុណា
                                     ទានប្រោសប្រណី ។
តោឥតប្រកែក             ចិន្តាសែនត្រេក                បានស្តាប់សម្តី
តាអ្នកកាប់ឧស           ថ្លែងយ៉ាងវាងវៃ                 កាត់ក្រញាំខ្លី
                                    និងចង្កូមផង ។
ដល់ថ្ងៃរៀបការ           អស់ឫទ្ធិខ្លាំងក្លា                ត្រូវនឹងដំបង
តោអត់ចង្កូម                 តាវាយសំពង             បែកក្បាលបាក់លោង
                                     រត់ចូលព្រៃជ្រៅ ៕
អំណាចមិនអាចឈ្នះប្រាជ្ញា

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

រឿងល្បើកនិងរឿងនិទាន

រឿង សេះនិងក្តាន់

កាលពីព្រេងនាយ មានសេះមួយរស់នៅលើវាលស្មៅ ដែលសម្បូរទៅ
ដោយស្មៅគ្រប់ប្រភេទ សម្រាប់ជាចំណីរបស់វា ។ ថ្ងៃមួយ មានក្តាន់
មួយហ្វូងបានចូលមកស៊ីស្មៅ នៅលើវាលស្មៅរបស់សេះនោះខ្ទេចខ្ទី
អស់ ។ ឃើញដូច្នោះ សេះខឹងយ៉ាងខ្លាំង ។ ដើម្បីសងសឹក នូវអំពើ
ឈ្លានពានរបស់ក្តាន់ សេះបានទៅពឹងមនុស្ស ឲ្យជួយដេញក្តាន់ទាំង
នោះ ចេញពីវាលស្មៅរបស់វា ។
មនុស្សបានប្រាប់សេះថា៖ “ប្រសិនបើឯងសុខចិត្ត ឲ្យយើងដាក់ខ្សែ
ដែកតូចមួយ ចូលក្នុងមាត់ឯង និងអនុញ្ញាតឲ្យយើងជិះលើខ្នងឯង
យើងប្រាកដជាអាចរកបាន មធ្យោបាយដ៏ស័ក្តិសិទ្ធិមួយ ដើម្បីដេញ
ក្តាន់ ឲ្យចេញពីវាលស្មៅ” ។ សេះឮដូច្នោះ វាក៏យល់ព្រមធ្វើតាមយោ
បល់មនុស្ស ។ បន្ទាប់ពីមនុស្សដាក់បង្ហៀរ ទាក់ក្នុងមាត់សេះបាន
ហើយ មនុស្សក៏ជិះ នៅលើខ្នងសេះនោះរៀងរហូត ដោយមិនខ្វល់
ខ្វាយ នឹងដេញសត្វក្តាន់ ឲ្យចេញពីវាលស្មៅរបស់សេះឡើយ ។ នៅ
ទីបំផុត សេះក៏ដឹងខ្លួនថា វាមិនត្រឹមតែមិនអាចដេញក្តាន់ ឲ្យចេញ
ពីវាលស្មៅរបស់វាបាននោះទេ ថែមទាំងត្រូវក្លាយខ្លួន ជាអ្នកបម្រើ
មនុស្សទៀតផង ៕
យើងមិនត្រូវធ្វើឲ្យបាត់បង់សេរីភាព ព្រោះតែការ
សងសឹកនោះទេ

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Fables and Folktales

រឿង តោជរា

កាលពីព្រេងនាយ មានតោចាស់មួយរស់នៅឯកោម្នាក់ឯង នៅលើវាល
ស្មៅសាវ៉ាណា ។ ដោយហេតុតែតោនោះ មានអាយុច្រើនហើយជរាផង
វាមិនអាចដេញចាប់សត្វ យកមកធ្វើជាអាហារបានឡើយ ។ បន្ទាប់ពី
អត់ចំណីអាហារស៊ីអស់រយៈពេលជាច្រើនថ្ងៃ តោចាស់ក៏នឹកឃើញ
ល្បិចមួយ ដោយធ្វើពុតជាឈឺ ហើយចូលទៅដេកនៅក្នុងរូងភ្នំ ។ នៅ
ពេលសត្វម្រឹគដែលរស់នៅជិតខាង បានឮថាតោចាស់មានជម្ងឺ ពួកវាក៏
មានចិត្តអាណិតអាសូរ ហើយក៏ចូលមកសួរសុខទុក្ខតោ ម្នាក់ម្តងៗ ។
រៀងរាល់ថ្ងៃ តោតែងតែលួចចាប់សត្វម្រឹគ ដែលមកសួរសុខទុក្ខវានោះ
ស៊ីជាប្រចាំ ។ ថ្ងៃមួយ កញ្ជ្រោង ដែលរស់នៅក្បែររូងភ្នំនោះដែរ បាន
សង្កេតឃើញថា សត្វម្រឹគដែលបានចូលទៅសួរសុខទុក្ខតោនៅក្នុងរូងភ្នំ មិនដែលឃើញមានសត្វណាមួយ ដើរចេញមកវិញឡើយ ។ ខណៈនោះ
កញ្ជ្រោងក៏ឈ្វេងយល់ អំពីកលល្បិចរបស់តោ ។ វាបានដើរមកក្បែររូង
ភ្នំ ហើយស្រែកសួរទៅតោថា៖ “បងតោ ! តើជម្ងឺរបស់បង បានធូស្រាល
ខ្លះទេ ?” ។ តោតបវិញថា៖ “បានធូស្រាលគ្រាន់បើហើយប្អូនកញ្ជ្រោង ។
ចុះហេតុអ្វីបានជាប្អូន មិនចូលមកជជែកលេងនឹងបងសិន ?” ។ “សុំទោស
បង” កញ្ជ្រោងឆ្លើយ “ខ្ញុំចង់ចូលទៅជជែកលេងនឹងបងដែរ តែជើងរបស់ខ្ញុំ
មិនយល់ព្រមតាមចិត្តរបស់ខ្ញុំសោះ ព្រោះពួកវាបានឃើញស្នាមជើងសត្វ
ឯទៀត ដែលចូលទៅសួរសុខទុក្ខបងនោះ មិនឃើញមានសត្វណាមួយ
ដើរចេញមកវិញឡើយ” ។ ពោលចប់ កញ្ជ្រោងក៏រត់ចេញយ៉ាងឆ្ងាយពីរូងភ្នំ
ព្រមទាំងផ្សព្វផ្សាយនូវល្បិចកលរបស់តោ ឲ្យសត្វដទៃទៀតបានដឹងឮ ។
បន្ទាប់ពីកញ្ជ្រោងបានរកឃើញកលល្បិចរបស់តោ តោចាស់នោះក៏អត់
ចំណីស៊ី ហើយឃ្លានដាច់ពោះស្លាប់ទៅ ៕
មនុស្សឈ្លាសវៃ គប្បីចេះរៀនសូត្រ អំពីកំហុសអ្នកដទៃ

Friday, November 23, 2012

WAR AND GENOCIDE

The End of a Beginning (Cont.)
The local Khmer Rouge cadres at Prek Rumdeng required all evacuees, whom by then were called new people, to register their presence with the village’s chief and, once again, write their autobiography reports to Angkar. As a precaution, my father decided to change his name from Chhay Ny to Chhay Ngy utilizing the Khmer alphabets noh and ngoh which look similar in writing but have a different sounds. At that point, my parents were also thinking of breaking the family apart so that if the Khmer Rouge were to come after my father, only those who were with him would be taken along. Besides the immediate family members, two of my mother’s siblings, Aunt Muoy and her husband, Kun, along with her younger brother, Lai Hea, were also with us. Among all the options being considered for breaking the family unit apart, one of them was to have my father leave the family, for he was the principal subject of Khmer Rouge’s persecution. But my mother was not willing to let him go; she felt such a radical option was absolutely unfair to him even though he wanted to leave the family. In such circumstances, when the Khmer Rouge’s apparatus were actively rounding up people whom they suspected of formerly working for the Lon Nol’s regime, a lone middle-aged man like my father going around without any family member with him would certainly attract the Khmer Rouge’s suspicion. Hence, the only other options were to send some of us to live with different relatives because it was common practice in Cambodia that parents sometimes sent their children to live with their aunts or uncles, just as my brother, Hong, did in the late 1960s when he went to attend high school in Kompong Cham City.


Taking advantage of the Khmer Rouge’s loose regulation during the first few months of evacuating people from the cities all around the country, my parents decided to send one of my older brothers, Heang, and my uncle, Lai Hea, to live with one of my maternal aunts, Om Ly, in Chamkar Leur district which was located about 40 miles west of where we were. After they had crossed the Mekong River and arrived in the town of Peam Chi Kong on their way to Chamkar Leur, Heang and Lai Hea were stopped by Khmer Rouge soldiers who had set up a checkpoint there. They were suspected of being Lon Nol’s soldiers and put in a holding center nearby along with other suspected people. In a brave or maybe brazen act of disobedience, Heang and Lai Hea decided to sneak out of the holding center and run away. By sheer luck, they were able to find their way across the Mekong River and make it back to Prek Rumdeng safely.

After learning of the debacle that my brother, Heang, and uncle Lai Hea went through during their attempted trip to Chamkar Leur, my mother decided to never again let any of her children go to live with her relatives. If we were to die, she said, we would die together as a family. The only remaining issue for us to contend with was Aunt Muoy, her husband, Kun, and Uncle Lai Hea who were living with us as one big extended family. During one of Grandma Seung’s visits, we all talked about the possibility of having Aunt Muoy, her husband, Kun, and Uncle Lai Hea returned to live in Phum Chi Ro as they were not part of the Chhay family and, therefore, the Khmer Rouge would have no reasons to persecute them. On the other hand, if the Chhay family were to be taken away or prosecuted by the Khmer Rouge, they (my aunt and uncle) could be spared if they were not with us. After thinking it through, Grandma Seung agreed to the idea and allowed my aunt and uncle to return to live with her in Phum Chi Ro, but at a different time. Thus, upon her return to Phum Chi Ro, Grandma Seung took Uncle Lai Hea with her and promised to come back and take Aunt Muoy and her husband on her next visit.

A few weeks later, Grandma Seung came to visit us again with a plan to take Aunt Muoy and her husband, Kun, with her upon her return to Phum Chi Ro. However, when it was time for her and her husband to leave for Phum Chi Ro, Aunt Muoy had a last minute change of heart. Aunt Muoy had lived with my mother since she was a teenager. My mother had raised her and even acted as her guardian when she got married in late 1974. Hence, the bond between them was more than sisters. It was like mother and daughter. (By the way, my mother did not have any daughters).

For Aunt Muoy, the issue of her last minute change of heart was not a personal safety reason; it was a moral reason. She didn’t feel it was right for her to abandon my mother in such a situation. After a lengthy and tearful discussion, Grandma Seung and my parents agreed to let Aunt Muoy and her husband remain with us. However, as a precaution, Aunt Muoy and her husband would have to register as a separate family unit and keep our relationship at arm’s length so that if one family were to be taken away by the Khmer Rouge the other might still have a chance to survive. As an internal rule among us, it was almost absolute that if the Khmer Rouge were to persecute any one of our families, the other must not show any form of connection so that it could avoid being persecuted as well.
(To be continued)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Customs of Cambodia (By Chou Ta-kuan)

10) Language

Cambodian language sounds somewhat similar to Chinese. However, despite the similarity, we could not understand each other’s language. The Cambodian language appears to be unique to Cambodia. Even neighboring countries such as Champa and Siam, they are unable to understand it either. Numerically, Cambodians count 1 as mouy, 2: pik, 3: bek, 4: puon, 5: pu-nam, 6: pu-nam-mouy, 7: pu-nam-pik, 8: pu-nam-bek, 9: pu-nam-puon, 10: tab. Fathers are called Pa-tho, uncles are also called pa-tho. Mothers are called me, so as aunts or neighboring women. Older brothers or sisters are called pong. As for younger sisters or brothers, they are called pov-ong. Maternal uncles are called ngan-lai. The husbands of paternal aunts are called pu-lai.

The Cambodians use reverse words order as they speak. For example: Tea Sam is my brother; they would say: This is brother Tea Sam. Or: This is Li Si, my paternal uncle; they would say: This is paternal uncle Li Si. To illustrate further, for instance: pishi stands for Chinese; pa-teng means public official, pan-kheab means scholar. If they wanted to say Chinese officials, they would say officials Chinese or pa-teng pishi not pishi pa-teng. These are just some brief examples. Another noticeable linguistic fact is the use of different terms for different groups of people in society. For example, members of the royal circle, court officials, scholars, monks, priests, or farmers have all had their own sets of vocabulary to address one another, just like the way we practice in China.

11) The Savages
There are two kinds of savages: Those who could communicate and understand the local language, and those who couldn’t. The ones who could communicate and understand local language are those who are being used as slaves. As for the ones who could not understand the local language, they lead the most backward lives. They do not know how to build shelters and live as jungle nomads. If they encounter wild animals, they would hunt them for foods with bows and arrows or spears. Once they bring down a wild animal, they would make a fire with flint to cook the meats and sit around to share them. After finishing their meals, they would take off and wander about the jungle again. These groups of savages are very vicious. They know how to mix poisonous substances and would kill each other without hesitation. For those who settle down in temporary villages, they would grow vegetables and cotton to weave clothes. However, their homemade clothes are very coarse and have rather rough patterns.

12) Writing (Literature)
People write letters and other articles such as official documents on dried deerskins and the skins of other animals. In order to prepare the animal skins for writings, they must first be dried and polished. Afterward, they are cut into pieces of different sizes according to the writer’s needs. As for writing materials, people use a kind of powder substance mixing up with dye and make it into a kind of chalk which they called Sau. They sharpen one end of that chalk and use it to write on the dried animal skins. After writing a document or letter, the writer would put the chalk in between his head and ear to indicate to others that he is the author. Once written, the chalk ink imprinted very well onto the animal skins. Only wet cloth soaked in water could be used to erase it.

The Cambodian alphabets look somewhat like the alphabets of Houy Tov (Uighurs?). The way the language is written is from left to right, not from right to left. I heard Ea Say Huya (a Chinese acquaintance?) said that their vowels are also similar to the Mongolian alphabets. At the time of my visit, there are no published articles. But, there are writers and poets.
(Excerpt from the Cambodian Royal Chronicle. To be continued)

Monday, November 19, 2012

រឿងល្បើកនិងរឿងនិទាន

រឿង សារិកា ក្ងោក និង កុក

(បទ កាកគតិ)
ថ្លែងពីព្រានព្រៃ         ទាក់បានសត្វបី              គឺសារិកា
ក្ងោកមួយកុកមួយ      យកមករក្សា                 ហ្វឹកហាត់វិជ្ជា
                                    ចេះស្តាប់សម្តី ។
បង្រៀនសារិកា           ឲ្យចេះភាសា                អាចនិយាយស្តី
ឆ្លើយឆ្លងនឹងមនុស្ស    មិនថាប្រុសស្រី            ព្រោះវាឆ្លាតវៃ
                                     លើសសត្វនានា ។
ឯក្ងោកនិងកុក             ឲ្យរៀនរាំក្លុក                 ល្អមើលអស្ចារ្យ
លុះដល់គ្រាមួយ          ព្រានយកពួកវា            ថ្វាយស្តេចទស្សនា
                                     កំសាន្តហឫទ័យ ។
នៅមុខរាជា                 ឆោមសារិកា                  សាសងសម្តី
ជួនកាលវាហួច           ជួនកាលនិយាយ          ឆ្លើយនឹងព្រានព្រៃ
                                     ឥតភ្លេចមួយឃ្លា ។
ក្រោយពេលបានស្តាប់   សំនៀងសាសព្ទ         សត្វសារិកា
ស្តេចសព្វហឫទ័យ         ហើយសួរព្រានថា        យើងចង់ជាវវា
                                       ពីអ្នកបានទេ ។
ព្រានទូលថាបាន           សត្វទាំងបីប្រាណ          ឥតបញ្ហាទេ
តែសូមទ្រង់ទត             ក្ងោកនិងកុកដែរ              ពួកវាពូកែ
                                       រាំត្លុកក្រៃណា ។
ស្តេចឮដូច្នោះ               ទ្រង់ផ្តល់កិត្តិយស            ឲ្យសត្វមយូរ៉ា
ឡើងរាំលើឆាក             ថ្វាយទ្រង់ទស្សនា           តើវាអស្ចារ្យ
                                      ដូចព្រានពោលទេ ។
ក្ងោកឡើងលើឆាក       បើកកន្ទុយខ្វាក                ខិតខំរាំរេ
លាតត្រដាងស្លាប        ខ្លួនរីកធំទ្វេ                 ស្តេចទតហើយស្នេហ៌
                                      ក្ងោកពេញចិន្តា ។
ស្តេចប្រាប់ឲ្យគេ           ចាប់ក្ងោកទុកដែរ             ដូចសារិកា
ដល់វេនកុកម្តង           វាមានប្រាជ្ញា            ឈ្វេងយល់ហេតុការណ៍
                                    ពីគ្រោះថ្នាក់ធំ ។
កុករិះគិតថា                សត្វសារិកា                      និងក្ងោកខិតខំ
សម្តែងវិជ្ជា                  មិនហ៊ានបន្លំ                     បានល្អឧត្តម
                                    ស្តេចគាប់ហឫទ័យ ។
ស្តេចស្រឡាញ់ពេក    ចាប់ដាក់ទ្រុងដែក           ទុកទតរាល់ថ្ងៃ
ធម្មតាសត្វជាប់--         ទ្រុងគ្មានសេរី                  ដូចសត្វបក្សី
                                     រស់ក្នុងព្រៃឡើយ ។
លុះគិតឃើញច្នោះ      កុកឱនក្បាលចុះ              ធ្វើល្ងង់តោះតើយ
ត្រដាងស្លាបរាំ             លើកជើងល្វើយៗ       ស្តេចទតយល់ហើយ
                                    មិនចូលចិត្តសោះ ។
ស្តេចចេញបញ្ជា         កុកមិនបានការ                ដោះលែងវាចុះ
ព្រានបានស្តាប់ហើយ     ចាប់កុកលើកបោះ        ឲ្យវាហើរហោះ
                                     វិលចូលក្នុងព្រៃ ។
កុកវិលទៅស្ថាន         ជួបញាតិសន្តាន                រស់មានសេរី
ព្រោះមានគំនិត         ចេះគិតលកលៃ                ប្រើភាពឈ្លាសវៃ
                                   រកសេរីភាព ៕
"ចំណេះវិជ្ជា បើប្រើខុសកាលវេលា អាចនាំទុក្ខដល់ខ្លួន"