Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Customs of Cambodia (By Chou Ta-Kuan)

6) The People

According to the habits of the barbarians, they usually like to live in outlaying places away from islands or river areas where there are plenty of waters. Their skins are dark and ugly. This is true for the Cambodians. However, for the women folks who live in palaces or prosperous houses which shelter them from sunlight, they all have fair and smooth skins. In general, both men and women do not wear shirts. They wrap themselves with a piece of cloth called sampot (Indonesian: sarong, Indian: sari) around their waists. Their upper bodies were left naked, and they walk about barefoot—even for those who are concubines of the king.

The king has five wives, one primary wife (the Queen) and four secondary wives who represent the four cardinal points. Beside the five wives, I heard people say that the king also has about 4 or 5 thousand concubines (servants?) who are grouped into different ranks. These female servants are not allowed to go outside the palace compound. Every time I go to visit the palace, I usually see the king and Queen holding court audience by sitting in golden chairs on a raised stage (dais) in a great hall. As for court officials, they are all seated around the stage in designated areas according to their ranks. I had once seen a beautiful young lady being offered to become the king’s concubine. I learned that people who had pretty daughters usually bring them to the attention of the king to gain the king’s favor. There are female servants called Tang Kelang (Sreungkia) walking all about the palace. These female servants numbered about one to two hundreds. They are allowed to have husbands and families. All of these female servants have their foreheads shaved just like the canal’s lock operators in northern China. They also had their sideburns painted with henna. This is how we identify the Tang Kelangs. Only these Tang Kelang women are allowed to have access to the palace. Other servants are not permitted to go inside the palace.

Most women folks wear their hair in knots. But they do not use hairpins or decorate their hair. Neither do they use make-up. On their wrists and fingers, they wear gold bracelets and rings. On the other hand, the Tang Kelangs and their spouses who work in the palace compound always wear perfumes made from aromatic woods and deer glands. Most people here worship Buddha.

In this country, there are some pretty women (transvestites?) walking around the marketplace. They form a group of about 10 people and frequently try to seduce the Chinese in exchange for valuables. It is a bad behavior!

7) Childbirth (Postpartum Practice)
In this country, women who have just delivered babies would immediately put a tightly-rolled cooked rice, mixed with salt, in their uteruses for 24 hours in order to ward off diseases and keep their vagina muscles strong just as they were virgins. When I first heard of the story, I had my doubt, for it is sort of ridiculous for married women who already had children to worry about such natural process of nature’s course. However, at the house where I was staying, a woman has given birth to a baby, which gave me the opportunity to corroborate the story. One day after giving birth, I saw her carrying her newborn baby to bathe in the river—an extraordinary scene which I have never seen before.

Through the rumor mills, I heard that Cambodian women are sexually very active. They would seek sexual intercourse with their husbands again after having babies for just one or two days. If their husbands could not fulfill their desires, they would abandon them like the Bouy Chengs (Chinese slang?). Also, if the husbands were to be away for more than 10 days, they would hear such complaints from their wives: “I’m not a corpse; I can’t sleep alone.” However, I also heard that lots and lots of women are very faithful. Cambodian women appear to grow old faster than their aging process due to the fact that they married young and had children very early in life. A 20 or 30-year old Cambodian women look almost like a 40 or 50-year old Chinese women.
(Excerpt from the Cambodian Royal Chronicle, To be continued)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

រឿងល្បើកនិងរឿងនិទាន

រឿង អណ្តើកនិងទាព្រៃ

(បទពាក្យ ៧)
មានអណ្តើកមួយរស់ក្នុងបឹង      មួយតូចច្រឡឹងក្បែរជើងភ្នំ
ក្នុងព្រៃស្មសានស្ងាត់ជ្រងំ           ជាទីមនោរម្យនៃសត្វព្រៃ ។
ជួនជាគ្រាមួយធាតុអាកាស        បានប្រែក្រឡាស់ខុសប្រក្រតី
ទឹកភ្លៀងឈប់ធ្លាក់អស់ច្រើនថ្ងៃ   ធ្វើឲ្យប្រថពីស្ងួតហួតហែង ។
មិនយូរប៉ុន្មានក៏ផ្ទៃបឹង                   រីងស្ងួតហួតរឹងបែកក្រហែង
អណ្តើកកើតទុក្ខព្រួយក្រៃលែង    ព្រោះបាត់កន្លែងធ្លាប់រស់នៅ ។
ក្សិណនោះមានទាព្រៃមួយគូ        ដែលទើបនឹងប្តូរទីលំនៅ
ហើរមកឃើញបឹងក៏ចុះទៅ           ស្វែងរកកួរស្រូវស្រងែឆី ។
អណ្តើកឃើញទាចុះមកដល់        សែនតប់ប្រមល់ចិត្តពេកក្រៃ
ថាបងទាអើយមករកអ្វី                 ទីនេះគ្មានចំណីឆីឡើយ ។
ដ្បិតអីទឹកបឹងរីងខះអស់               គ្មានអ្វីអាចរស់នៅបានឡើយ
សូមរកទីផ្សេងទៅបងអើយ          កុំឡើយរង់ចាំស្លាប់ដូចខ្ញុំ ។
លុះឮអណ្តើកពោលរ៉ាយរ៉ាប់        ប្រាប់ពីទុរភិក្សគ្រោះថ្នាក់ធំ
ទាក៏ចាកចេញទាំងបង្ខំ                  ស្វែងរកជំរំទ្រនំថ្មី ។
មិនយូរប៉ុន្មានបានឃើញស្ទឹង       មួយធំល្វើយល្វឹងក្បែរមាត់ព្រៃ
មានទឹកល្ហល្ហាចបរិបូរក្រៃ             ជាជម្រកត្រីនិងសត្វផង ។
ពេលឃើញស្ទឹងភ្លាមទានឹកដល់   ក្តីទុក្ខកង្វល់អណ្តើកម្តង
រស់ក្នុងបឹងតូចទឹករីងផង             ពិតស្លាប់តៃហោងមិនលែងឡើយ ។
គិតដល់ត្រង់នេះទាទាំងពីរ          មានចិត្តមូលមីមិនកន្តើយ
ទៅប្រាប់អណ្តើកកុំឲ្យធ្លោយ        ឆាប់រូតរះវ៉ឺយមករកស្ទឹង ។
បន្ទាប់ពីបានឮទាប្រាប់                 អណ្តើកក៏ឆាប់សួរវិញវឹង
ថាស្ទឹងនៅឆ្ងាយពេកទេដឹង          បើពិតអញ្ចឹងមិនអាចដើរ ។
ទាថាស្ទឹងនោះនៅឆ្ងាយដែរ          បើនឹងរិះរេធ្វើដំណើរ
លុះត្រាតែឯងមានស្លាបហើរ         ទើបធ្វើដំណើរទៅដល់បាន ។
អណ្តើកថាខ្ញុំមានគំនិត                  ប្រសិនបើមិត្តទាំងពីរប្រាណ
ស្ម័គ្រចិត្តជួយខ្ញុំខាងតែបាន          ខ្ញុំអាចទៅបានដូចបំណង ។
ខ្ញុំនឹងកាច់មែកឈើតូចមួយ          ឲ្យមិត្តជួយពាំចុងទាំងសង--
ខាងហើយខ្ញុំពាំកណ្តាលបង         រួចយើងហោះឆ្លងកាត់វេហាស៍ ។
លុះរៀបរួចហើយសត្វទាំងបី        នាំគ្នាឃ្មាតខ្មីចរយាត្រា
ហោះហើរឆ្លងកាត់លើវេហាស៍    ផ្អើលអស់មនុស្សម្នាមើលអឺងកង ។
មនុស្សខ្លះស្រែកថាមើលនុ៎ះហ្ន៎ !    ទាព្រៃចិត្តល្អឆ្លាតកន្លង
ចេះរកឃើញល្បិចជួយចម្លង          នាំអណ្តើកឆ្លងកាត់វេហាស៍ ។
អណ្តើកឮមនុស្សពោលដូច្នោះ        ក្នុងចិត្តឆួលពុះក្នាញ់អស្ចារ្យ
ព្រោះខ្លួនជាអ្នកចាត់ចែងការ          ម្តេចមនុស្សលេលាគិតមិនដល់ ។
ហេតុតែចង់ប្រាប់ពីការពិត          ឲ្យមនុស្សល្ងង់ល្ងិតបានច្បាស់យល់
អណ្តើកក៏ប្រឹងស្រែកពន្យល់            ថា៖ “ខ្ញុំអ្នកផ្តល់គំនិតឲ្យ…” ។
គ្រាន់តែហាមាត់ស្រែកថា៖ “ខ្ញុំ”        អណ្តើកច្រឡំមាត់ថ្លោះធ្លោយ
របូតមាត់ធ្លាក់មកលឿនស្លុយ         បោកប្រាណនឹងដីក្ស័យសង្ខារ ៕
"យើងមិនត្រូវមានចិត្តចង្អៀត ចំពោះការផ្តល់កិត្តិយសដល់សហ
ការីយើងទេ ព្រោះអ្នកគិតនិងអ្នគូរ មានគុណសម្បត្តិដូចគ្នា"

Saturday, October 27, 2012

រឿងល្បើកនិងរឿងនិទាន

រឿង ព្រានព្រៃនិងសត្វចាបពូក

ព្រានព្រៃម្នាក់ចាប់បានចាបពូកមួយ ដែលមានប្រាជ្ញាវាងវៃ និងចេះ
និយាយភាសាមនុស្សផង ។ នៅពេលដែលវា បានធ្លាក់ក្នុងកណ្តាប់ដៃ
ព្រាន ចាបពូកបាននិយាយទៅកាន់ព្រានព្រៃថា៖ “សូមលោកម្ចាស់ដោះ
លែងខ្ញុំទៅ ខ្ញុំនឹងប្រាប់លោកម្ចាស់ នូវគតិបណ្ឌិតបីប្រការ ដែលមាន
សារប្រយោជន៍ជាទីបំផុត សម្រាប់សុខុមាលភាព របស់លោកម្ចាស់” ។
“ឯងប្រាប់យើងមក យើងនឹងដោះលែងឯង” ព្រានព្រៃនិយាយទៅកាន់
ចាបពូក ។ “លោកសន្យានឹងខ្ញុំសិនមក ថាលោក មិនក្បត់ពាក្យសម្តី
របស់លោកឡើយ” ចាបពូកធ្វើសំណូមពរ ។ ពេលនោះ ព្រានព្រៃក៏
សន្យាជាមួយចាបពូក ថាមិនក្បត់នឹងពាក្យសម្តីរបស់ខ្លួនឡើយ ។ បន្ទាប់ពីព្រានព្រៃសន្យារួចហើយ ចាបពូកក៏ប្រាប់ព្រានព្រៃ នូវគតិ
បណ្ឌិតទាំងបីប្រការថា៖
ទី មួយៈ មិនត្រូវសោកស្តាយ នូវអ្វីៗដែលបានធ្វើកន្លងហួសទៅហើយ
ទី ពីរៈ មិនត្រូវជឿពាក្យសម្តី ដែលអស្ចារ្យហួសហេតុ និងដែលមិនគួរ
ឲ្យជឿ
ទី បីៈ កុំព្យាយាមធ្វើអ្វី ដែលខ្ពស់ហួសពីសមត្ថភាពរបស់ខ្លួន
លុះរៀបរាប់សេចក្តីដូច្នេះហើយ ចាបពូកក៏បានរំលឹក អំពីពាក្យសន្យា
របស់ព្រានព្រៃ ។ ពេលនោះ ព្រានព្រៃក៏បានដោះលែងវា ឲ្យមានសេរី
ភាពឡើងវិញ ។ បន្ទាប់ពីបានរួចផុត ពីកណ្តាប់ដៃព្រាន ចាបពូកក៏បាន
ហើរ ទៅទំនៅលើចុងឈើដ៏ខ្ពស់មួយ ហើយនិយាយចំអកឲ្យព្រានព្រៃ
ថា៖ “នែ៎ ! មនុស្សល្ងង់ខ្លៅ ឯងបានលែងយើងឲ្យរួចខ្លួន ដោយមិនដឹង
ទេថា នៅក្នុងពោះរបស់យើង មានលាក់គុជដ៏មានតម្លៃមួយគ្រាប់ ទំហំ
ប៉ុនពងមាន់” ។
លុះបានឮចាបពូកនិយាយដូច្នោះ ព្រានព្រៃក៏កើតមានការសោកស្តាយ
យ៉ាងខ្លាំង ដោយចាញ់បោកចាបពូក ។ រំពេចនោះ គាត់ក៏ស្ទុះទៅប្រវា
ឡើងដើមឈើ យ៉ាងត្រដាបត្រដួស ដើម្បីតាមចាប់ចាបពូកនោះមក
វិញ ។ ប៉ុន្តែ គាត់ឡើងបានតែបន្តិច ក៏រអិលជើងរបូតដៃ ធ្លាក់ពីលើដើម
ឈើមកវិញ បណ្តាលឲ្យបាក់កជើង ឈឺចុកចាប់ ស្ទើរតែនិយាយលែង
រួច ។ ឃើញដូច្នោះ ចាបពូកក៏សើចចំអកឲ្យព្រានព្រៃ កាន់តែខ្លាំងឡើង
ព្រមទាំងពោលថា៖ “យើងបានបង្រៀនឯង នូវគតិបណ្ឌិតបីប្រការ មិន
ទាន់បានមួយម៉ោងផង ឯងភ្លេចអស់ទៅហើយ ។ យើងថា កុំស្តាយ នូវអ្វីដែលបានធ្វើកន្លងហួសទៅហើយ តែឯងនៅតែងងើលសោកស្តាយ ពីរឿងដែលបានដោះលែងយើង ។ យើងថា កុំជឿ រឿងដែលអស្ចារ្យ
ហួសហេតុលើសពីការជឿ តែឯងនៅតែជឿថា យើងមានគ្រាប់គុជប៉ុន
ពងមាន់ លាក់នៅក្នុងពោះរបស់យើង ។ តើចាបតូចប៉ុនមេដៃដូចយើង
នេះ អាចលាក់គ្រាប់គុជប៉ុនពងមាន់ នៅក្នុងពោះបានដែរឬទេ ? ។
ម៉្យាងទៀត យើងបានប្រាប់ថា កុំព្យាយាមធ្វើអ្វី ដែលខ្ពស់ហួសពីសមត្ថ
ភាពរបស់ខ្លួន តែឯងមិនស្តាប់ ហើយបែរជាខំប្រឹង ឡើងចាប់សត្វស្លាប
នៅលើចុងឈើដ៏ខ្ពស់ រហូតដល់មានគ្រោះថ្នាក់ ធ្លាក់បាក់ជើង ។ ដូច្នេះ
ហើយ ទើបបានជាបណ្ឌិតអ្នកប្រាជ្ញ លោកពោលថាៈ មនុស្សល្ងង់ ច្រើន
តែមានជំនឿ ទៅលើអ្វីដែលឥតហេតុផល” ។ ពោលហើយ ចាបពូកក៏
បានហើរចេញ ទៅរកចំណីបាត់ទៅ ៕
"កុំស្តាយ កុំជឿ និង​ កុំព្យាយាមធ្វើអ្វីដែលមិនសមហេតុផល"


Friday, October 26, 2012

រឿងល្បើកនិងរឿងនិទាន

រឿង មាន់គកនិងពួកចោរ

មានចោរមួយក្រុម បានលបចូលទៅលួចទ្រព្យសម្បត្តិ នៅក្នុងផ្ទះមួយ ។ នៅពេលដែលចោរទាំងនោះ ចូលទៅដល់ក្នុងផ្ទះ ពួកគេមិនឃើញមាន
ទ្រព្យសម្បត្តិអ្វីឡើយ មានតែមាន់គកមួយ ដែលម្ចាស់ផ្ទះបានក្រុងវា
នៅក្នុងអង្រុត ។ ពួកចោរក៏លួចយកមាន់គកនោះ មកធ្វើជាអាហារ ។
នៅពេលដែលក្រុមចោរ ត្រឡប់មកដល់ជំរំរបស់ពួកគេ ហើយរៀបចំ
សម្លាប់មាន់គក ដើម្បីអាំងធ្វើជាអាហារ មាន់គកក៏បាននិយាយអង្វរ
ចោរទាំងនោះថា៖ “សូមអ្នកទាំងអស់គ្នា កុំសម្លាប់ខ្ញុំអី ព្រោះខ្ញុំជាសត្វ
ដែលបម្រើផលប្រយោជន៍ ឲ្យមនុស្សទូទៅ ។ រៀងរាល់ពេលទាបភ្លឺ
ខ្ញុំតែងតែរងាវដាស់មនុស្ស ឲ្យងើបទៅធ្វើការងារ មិនដែលខកខាន
ឡើយ” ។ លុះឮមាន់គកនិយាយដូច្នោះ ពួកចោរក៏តបវិញថា៖ “សម្តី
ឯង គឺជាហេតុផលដ៏ត្រឹមត្រូវជាទីបំផុតសម្រាប់ពួកយើង ក្នុងការសម្លាប់
ឯងស៊ីជាអាហារ ព្រោះថា នៅពេលដែលឯងរងាវនោះ ឯងបានដាស់
អ្នកស្រុកឲ្យភ្ញាក់ឡើង ដែលជាហេតុមិនអាចឲ្យយើង ចូលទៅលួចទ្រព្យ
សម្បត្តិរបស់ពួកគេបាន” ៕
"មនុស្សអប្រីយ៍ មិនស្គាល់ថាអ្វីជាប្រយោជន៍សាធារណនោះទេ"

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

WAR AND GENOCIDE

The End of a Beginning

The next morning, I woke up to the tumultuous sounds of gun shots and chaotic noises. There was a commotion of panic and emergency everywhere. I heard people scream and yell from every direction in the neighborhood. Some people told their children to pack up their clothes and blankets while others asked their neighbors what the hell was going on. Nobody seemed to know what was going on, but one thing everyone knew for sure was that the Khmer Rouge had just come into town, and that those sounds of gun shots were either a salute to victory or an act of intimidation.

Still harboring a thought of going to see and welcome the Khmer Rouge, I walked into the living room with little concern about what was or would be happening. As I entered the living room, I saw my mother and brothers busily packing up clothes, food, and utensils. My mom told me to go hurriedly brush my teeth, take a quick bath, and put on good comfortable clothes because we might have to evacuate the city pretty soon. At first, I was a little skeptical about leaving the city, but after seeing most people in the neighborhood packing up, I became convinced that the situation was indeed serious. I went to the bathroom, quickly doing what I was told, and returned to the living room to help my brothers pack up. Minutes later, a man, who at the time shared the apartment with us, returned from investigating what was going on in the streets outside and told us that the Khmer Rouge were about to evacuate all the people from the city. He then hurriedly went up to his quarter to collect his wife and children.

Soon after the man went up to his apartment, my brother, Heang, a college student and part-time government auxiliary soldier arrived after spending the night guarding his post on the western edge of the city. Heang seemed a bit nervous and worried -- an unusual sign for a brave young man who usually expressed his bravado going off to work with a rifle strapped behind his back. In addition, he appeared to be psychologically terrified as if he had just seen a ghost.

Seeing that my brother, Heang, must have gone through a terrifying experience, both of my parents went up to him to find out what had gone wrong. My brother said that he had encountered a group of Khmer Rouge soldiers last night as they tried to enter the city before they were allowed to do so. After he and his comrades denied them permission to enter the city, the Khmer Rouge became angry and threatened to rope everyone (the Khmer Rouge didn’t use handcuffs) as soon as they got their way in. Hence, without taking any chance, Heang and his comrades secretly abandoned their post before sunrise, turned their gun in at a designated area, and went their separate ways through the back streets to avoid being spotted by their commander or the Khmer Rouge because uniformed soldiers or officers were supposed to stay at their stations or cantonment areas. Heang also said that, along the way home, he saw some Khmer Rouge carrying microphones announcing that people must evacuate the city immediately. Sensing that things might not change as smoothly as everyone expected, my parents told my brother, Heang, to take off his uniforms and put on civilian clothes as a precaution.

Now, as we realized that evacuation was imminent, we immediately turned anticipation into action. My father and older bothers began to load some of the most important things such as rice, cooking utensils, and other foodstuffs onto our bicycles and tied them securely. As for the rest of our belongings, we would take only what was deemed necessary, such as blankets and a few items of clothing, which we could carry on our backs. Everything else had to be left behind. To make sure that we would have at least the most basic things to support and sustain our livelihood during this uncertain exodus, my mother wisely packed things into different sizes of bags. She then entrusted them among us children to carry according to our physical strength. For example, my big brothers would carry bulky things such as blankets and mosquito nets, while my little brother and I would carry the smaller bags of clothes.

As we were surveying the weights on our backs and prepared to step out into the world of uncertainty, some of our next door neighbors began to depart from their homes. My father asked them whether it was time to leave and whether they knew where we were supposed to go. Our neighbors said that they did not know where the destination would be, but they knew for sure that everyone had to leave the city immediately. They also said that the sooner we departed the better off we would be because the streets were less crowded. After learning what had happened at my brother’s patrolling post the night before and sensing the unpredictable policy of the Khmer Rouge, we decided to take no chances. My parents told everyone to pick up his designated packages and, as soon as everyone was ready, we began our journey to the unknown.

I looked up at the house for the last time as we stepped out into the street. In the midst of the crowd, we pushed our way northward toward the traffic circle in front of the old courthouse. As we approached the circle we saw some people traveling opposite our direction. At first we thought that they were just going the opposite way, however, as we arrived at the circle, we found that people were being turned away from crossing the intersection. Those who lived on the southern part of the intersection had to go south; and those who lived on the north had to go north. The Khmer Rouge used the intersection at the circle as a dividing point to direct people out of the city. There were several Khmer Rouge soldiers standing on every street leading to the circle. However, there were no signs or roadblocks of any kind to indicate to the people which way they should or could not go. Before word-of-mouth news about which direction people should follow to get out of the city spread among the general masses, those who had traveled the wrong direction had to go all the way up to the point where the Khmer Rouge set up their blockades to turn them around. Hence, the intersection around the circle were jam-packed with people who were either trying to ask the Khmer Rouge soldiers for permission to cross to the other side of the intersection or making their way around to follow the right direction.

As more and more people arrived at the circle, the Khmer Rouge soldiers were getting tired of telling them to turn around, so they began to fire their guns into the air and made hand gestures to the people to turn around and clear the intersection. The sounds of gun shots caused panic in every one of us, especially the little children. Some children started to cry while others were screaming for their parents. We were just turning our heads around when the Khmer Rouge started shooting into the air. Thus, we quickly rushed away from the scene -- somewhat ahead of the panicky crowd. My parents told my brothers and me to stay close to one another and walk in group so that we wouldn’t get lost or separated from each other.

While we were pushing our way away from the circle’s intersection amid the chaotic crowd, we met my uncle’s wife, Vantha. Her husband was an officer in the Cambodian Marine Corps, Mr. Yin Bunleng, whom we once met during the siege of 1973. Vantha was alone with her little child and appeared to be in great distress. Her eyes were filled with tears. My parents asked her where her husband was. She said that her husband was sent off by his superior to navigate a high-speed patrol boat to receive the Khmer Rouge officials on the other side of the Mekong River and he had been gone ever since. She had waited for his return at his station all morning long only to find out that the boat with which he took returned to the shore without him. It was instead full of Khmer Rouge soldiers who immediately started to order all government soldiers to gather in a designated area. They ordered civilians to disperse. She then walked up to the circle’s intersection hoping to find someone who might have known of her husband’s whereabouts. However, she heard nothing about the fate of her husband and a few other marines who had gone with him.

After learning of my uncle’s disappearance, we all were shocked and began to worry a lot about the future. Though the Khmer Rouge had not yet shown any sign of violent behavior toward their newly conquered populace, their indifferent attitudes made us feel very intimidated and concerned. The most pressing concern for every one of us was the uncertainty of the present situation. We had no clue what might happen or would happen to us within the next few days. Neither did anyone else around us. Everything we could hear and see caused us anxiety and confusion.
(To be continued)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Customs of Cambodia (By Chou Ta-Kuan)

3) Grooming and Outfits

The people of Chen-la, from king to commoners, tie their hairs in knots. They use a piece of cloth to wrap around their waists and leave their upper bodies bare. If they were to go out in public they would use another piece of cloth (larger than the one they wrap around their waists) to wrap around their upper bodies. These dressing codes were observed according to one’s standing status in society. The king’s regalias (dresses) are the most beautiful. They are worth an equivalent of 3 to 4 ounces in gold.

The people of Chen-la know how to weave clothes. However, they also use clothes imported from Siam and Champa. There are also high-quality clothes which were imported from Europe for exclusive uses by the royal family. The king wears gold crown. Sometimes, the king did not wear his crown; he wears a jasmine flower garland around his head instead. The king also wears a hairpin with a large diamond on it. The jewelries that the king wears on his ankles and hands weigh at least 3 neals (about 48 ounces). The king wears ruby rings on every finger. His palms and the soles of his feet were adorned with red dye. Whenever the king comes out in public, he always carries a gold sword.

As for the general population, only the women folks could dye their palms and the soles of their feet red. The men could not dye their palms or the soles of their feet. Relatives of the monarch and high court officials could use decorative clothes of moderate quality. As for the lower ranking officials, they could only use clothes with floral decoration on the hems. For commoners, only females are allowed to use floral decorative clothes.

For Chinese immigrants who had just arrived in the country, they are allowed to wear whatever clothes they had, for they are not yet acculturated to the new customs.

4) Court Officials
This country has ministers, generals, astrologers, and many other lower ranking officials just like China. The only difference is the way their titles are called. Most of the court officials are relatives of the monarch. For others who wish to become court officials, one way to gain a position is to offer their daughters as the king’s concubines. People could recognize the ranks of court officials by looking at their carriage chairs and the parasols under which they sit during procession. Officials with the highest ranks would sit in gold-plated carriages accompanying by four parasols whose handles are gold-plated as well. The next in ranks would have two parasols, then one; and the lowest ranking officials would have only a parasol with silver-plated handle.

For court officials who ride on silver-plated carriages or have only one gold-plated parasol, they are called pa-teng or amm-teng. Those who have silver-handle parasols, they are called silatti. The parasols are made of silk clothes imported from China. Some parasols have long hems reaching almost down to the ground while others have shorter hems. All parasols are polished with shiny waxes.

5) Religions
The scholars are called Pa-keab (Pundits), Buddhist monks, Ju-ku, and the priests, Pa-shivi (Moharishi). I do not know how the Pa-keabs acquire their knowledge, for I have never seen any school or places where they conduct their studies. They dress just like ordinary people, except that they wear a piece of white thread necklace around their necks. These necklaces are worn for their entire lives. Public officials are usually selected from these Pa-keabs, for they are respected for their talents.

As for the Buddhist monks, they all have their heads shaved and dress in yellow robs leaving the right shoulder bare. They all walk barefoot. There is a Buddhist temple with tiles roof. In the middle of that temple, there is a statue of Buddha which looks like those found in India. This statue of Buddha was called Puth-lai, which was made of clay and painted yellow mixed with red and other colors. There are also other Buddha’s statuettes, which are made of bronze. In the temple, there are no bells, drums, or gongs. The Buddhist monks could eat fish, meats, vegetables, but they do not consume alcohol. The foods people offered to Buddhist monks could also be used for offering to the gods. Buddhist monks make their daily round to beg for foods from people’s homes once a day. The monks also eat only once every day.

There are various Buddhist texts (Sutras) which were written on some kind of leaves and bound together. The writing doesn’t appear to be made by brush. I do not know what kinds of writing objects were used. When a monk goes to give consultation to the king, carriage and parasols with gold or silver-plated handles were used to carry him. I have not seen any nun in the pagodas.

As for the priests called pashivi, besides dressing like ordinary people, they also have a piece of red or white cloth wrapped around their heads just like the Tartar women of Mongolia—except that they are a bit shorter. The pashivi maintain temples just like Buddhist monks, but they are smaller in sizes. The pashivi religion is not as influential as Buddhism upon the population. They worship a piece of stone (Pilas or Linga?) as that of the Neak ta. I have no knowledge of the root and how this religion is practiced. But I know that they allow nuns into their order, and their temples are allowed to have tiles roofs. The Pashivi do not accept foods offered by others, eat foods in public, or consume alcoholic beverages. I have never seen the Pashivi priests conducted sermons. As for local children who need to go to school, their parents usually send them off to be novices (kone seus loke) in the pagodas. When those children are old enough to enter monkhood, they join and become members of the sangha for a few or several years before returning to layman life. There are many more details which I was unable to learn.
(Excerpt from the Cambodian Royal Chronicle, to be continued)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Fables and Folktales

រឿង អូដ្ឋនិងលា

(បទពាក្យ ៨)
កាលមួយនោះមានឈ្មួញអំបិលម្នាក់     រស់នៅស្នាក់ក្បែរវាលសាហារា
ផ្នែកខាងលិចនៃទ្វីបអាហ្វ្រិកា           ឆ្លងកាត់មហាវាលខ្សាច់មួយដ៏ធំ ។
ឈ្មួញបានប្រើសត្វអូដ្ឋហើយនឹងលា         ឲ្យពួកវាដឹកអំបិលច្រើនដុំ
យកទៅលក់នៅឯទីប្រជុំ                      ផ្សារមួយធំក្នុងដែនដីភារា ។
ការធ្វើដំណើរទៅផ្លូវវែងឆ្ងាយ          នឿយហត់កាយសត្វទាំងពីរអង្គា
ខំប្រឹងដើរទៅមុខទាំងវេទនា       ទ្រុឌទ្រមកាយាស្ទើរក្ស័យតៃហោង ។
ដល់ពាក់កណ្តាលផ្លូវទៅទីផ្សារ           លាពោលថាអូដ្ឋអើយមេត្តាបង
ជួយរំលែកអីវ៉ាន់ពីលើខ្នង                   ខ្ញុំខ្លះផងដើម្បីឆ្លងដល់ត្រើយ ។
ឮលាអង្វរអូដ្ឋស្រូតឆ្លើយថា               យើងធ្ងន់ដូចគ្នាទេសម្លាញ់អើយ
ឯងកុំរំអួយពេកប្រឹងឡើងវ៉ឺយ            ពោលរួចហើយអូដ្ឋបន្តយាត្រា ។
លាខំប្រឹងដើរតាមទាំងត្រដរ              ព្យាយាមអង្វរអូដ្ឋឲ្យមេត្តា
ជួយវាផងតែម្តងនេះទេណា               ដ្បិតអីវាយល់គ្រាមានវិបរិត ។
មិនយូរប៉ុន្មានបានដល់ទីលង់            លាដួលតូងបាត់បង់អង្គជីវិត
ឈ្មួញឃើញលាស្លាប់ក៏មានគំនិត
ឆ្លៀតរិះគិតរកលាភតាមស្ថានការណ៍ ។
គាត់កាត់លើយបកស្បែកលាចេញមក   រួចលើកយកផ្ទុកលើខ្នងអូដ្ឋរ៉ា
ព្រមទាំងដុំអំបិលបន្ទុកលា                 ឲ្យអូដ្ឋវាលីលាដឹកតែឯង ។
ចម្ងាយផ្លូវទៅផ្សារនៅឆ្ងាយក្រៃ   អូដ្ឋនឹកសោកស្តាយកំហុសក្រៃលែង
បើព្រមជួយលាម្លេះមិនចំបែង      ដឹកអីវ៉ាន់ម្នាក់ឯងថែមស្បែកលា ។
ការពារមុនប្រសើរជាងព្យាបាល     រឿងដំណាលស្តីពីអូដ្ឋនិងលា
ជាដំបូន្មានមួយដ៏ពិស្តារ                 សម្រាប់ពិចារណាជាមេរៀន ៕

Thursday, October 18, 2012

រឿងល្បើកនិងរឿងនិទាន

រឿង ព្រះមហាក្សត្រនិងសត្វស្វា

កាលពីព្រេងនាយ មានព្រះមហាក្សត្រមួយអង្គ ទ្រង់បានចិញ្ចឹមសត្វស្វា
មួយ ដែលជាទីស្រឡាញ់ទុកចិត្ត របស់ព្រះអង្គក្រៃលែង ។ នៅពេល
ព្រះអង្គ យាងទៅណាមកណាម្តងៗ ទ្រង់តែងតែនាំយកស្វានោះ ទៅ
ជាមួយទ្រង់ជានិច្ច ។ ព្រះអង្គ ថែមទាំងបានប្រគល់ដាវមួយ ឲ្យស្វា
ស្ពាយជាគ្រឿងឥស្សរយយសទៀតផង ។ ថ្ងៃមួយ ព្រះមហាក្សត្របាន
នាំស្វា ចូលទៅដើរប្រពាធ នៅក្នុងឧទ្យានរបស់ព្រះអង្គ ។ បន្ទាប់ពីបាន
ដើរកំសាន្តមួយស្របក់ ព្រះអង្គក៏ចូលទៅផ្ទុំ នៅក្នុងរោងទងមួយ ដែល
ពួកអមាត្យបានសង់ឡើង សម្រាប់ព្រះអង្គផ្ទុំកំសាន្ត ។ បន្ទាប់ពីត្រូវ
ខ្យល់ជំនោរបក់មករំភើយៗ ព្រះមហាក្សត្រ ក៏បានផ្ទុំលង់លក់នៅក្នុង
រោងទង ។ មួយសន្ទុះក្រោយមក មានសត្វឃ្មុំមួយ បានហើរមកទំលើ
ព្រះភ័ក្ត្រព្រះអង្គ ។ ឃើញដូច្នោះ ស្វាដែលកំពុងតែអង្គុយយាមព្រះ
មហាក្សត្រ នៅក្បែរនោះ ក៏ព្យាយាមដេញឃ្មុំ ឲ្យហើរចេញទៅឲ្យ
ឆ្ងាយ ។ ក៏ប៉ុន្តែ ឃ្មុំនោះមិនព្រមហើរចេញ ទៅណាឆ្ងាយទេ ។ វាហើរ
វិលចុះវិលឡើង ក៏មកទំនៅលើថ្ងាសព្រះមហាក្សត្រ ។ ដោយអត់ទ្រាំ
នឹងការរំខានរបស់ឃ្មុំមិនបាន ស្វាក៏ស្វែងរកមធ្យោបាយ ដើម្បីសម្លាប់
ឃ្មុំនោះចោល ។ រំពេចនោះ ស្វាក៏នឹកឃើញដាវ ដែលព្រះមហាក្សត្រ
បានប្រគល់ឲ្យវា ។ ដោយខ្វះការពិចារណាឲ្យបានស៊ីជម្រៅ ស្វាក៏បាន
ដកដាវចេញពីស្រោម ហើយកាប់ឃ្មុំនោះស្លាប់ទៅ ។ ប៉ុន្តែ អ្វីដែល
ធ្វើឲ្យស្វាភ្ញាក់ផ្អើលខ្លាំងនោះ គឺព្រះកេសរបស់ព្រះមហាក្សត្រ ក៏ត្រូវ
បានផ្លែដាវរបស់វា ពុះជ្រែកបែកជាពីរដែរ ៕
"មានសត្រូវដែលចេះគិត ប្រសើជាងមានមិត្តដែលឥតចេះពិចារណា"

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

រឿងល្បើកនិងរឿងនិទាន

រឿង មិត្តសម្លាញ់ពីរនាក់និងសត្វខ្លាឃ្មុំ

មានមិត្តសម្លាញ់ពីរនាក់ ម្នាក់ឈ្មោះ ក្រូច និងម្នាក់ទៀតឈ្មោះ ខ្វិត
បាននាំគ្នាទៅរកបេះផ្លែឈើនៅក្នុងព្រៃ ។ នៅពេលដែលអ្នកទាំងពីរ
កំពុងដើររកផ្លែឈើ ស្រាប់តែមានសត្វខ្លាឃ្មុំមួយ បានរត់សំដៅមក
បម្រុងចាប់ពួកគេស៊ីជាអាហារ ។ យល់ភាពអាសន្នមកដល់ ក្រូចនិង
ខ្វិតក៏រត់គេចរកកន្លែងពួន ។ ក្រូច ដែលជាមនុស្សពូកែឡើងដើមឈើ
បានប្រវាឡើងទៅពួន នៅលើមែកឈើមួយ ដោយមិនរវល់ជួយជ្រោម
ជ្រែង ខ្វិត ដែលជាមនុស្សមិនធ្លាប់និងមិនចេះឡើងដើមឈើនោះ ឲ្យរក
កន្លែងពួនបានដូចខ្លួនឡើយ ។ បន្ទាប់ពីមើលឃើញថា គ្មាននរណាអាច
ជួយខ្លួនបាន ខ្វិតក៏ផ្តួលខ្លួន ដេកផ្កាប់មុខផ្ទាល់ដី ធ្វើពុតជាស្លាប់នៅក្បែរ
គល់ឈើ ។ នៅពេលដែលខ្លាឃ្មុំដេញមកទាន់ បានឃើញខ្វិតដេកស្តូក
ស្តឹងនៅក្បែរគល់ឈើ វាក៏យកច្រមុះវាមកហិតក្បាលខ្វិត រួចក៏រោទិ៍
ហើយដើរចេញទៅ ។ បន្ទាប់ពីខ្លាឃ្មុំបានដើរចេញទៅបាត់ ក្រូចក៏ចុះពី
លើដើមឈើមក ហើយសួរខ្វិតថា៖ “ហេតុអ្វីបានជាខ្លាឃ្មុំ គ្រាន់តែហិត
ក្បាលសម្លាញ់ ហើយក៏ដើរចេញដូច្នេះ ?” ។ ពេលនោះ ខ្វិតក៏បានឆ្លើយ
តបទៅក្រូចវិញថា៖ “ពីព្រោះវាគ្មានបំណងចង់ស៊ីខ្ញុំទេ ។ វាគ្រាន់តែចង់
ខ្សឹបប្រាប់ខ្ញុំ នូវពាក្យពីរបីម៉ាត់ប៉ុណ្ណោះ” ។ ឮដូច្នោះ ក្រូចក៏សួរទៅខ្វិតថា៖
 “តើពាក្យនោះ ខ្លាឃ្មុំនិយាយថាដូចម្តេចដែរ ?” ។ “វាបាននិយាយថា៖”
ខ្វិតឆ្លើយតប “មិនត្រូវទុកចិត្តមនុស្ស ដែលបោះបង់ចោលមិត្តសម្លាញ់ ក្នុងគ្រាមានអាសន្ននោះឡើយ” ៕
"ជួយគ្នាក្នុងគ្រាក្រ ស្គាល់មិត្តល្អក្នុងគ្រាមានអាសន្ន"

Monday, October 15, 2012

WAR AND GENOCIDE

The Last Gun Shot (Cont.)
By early April 1975, the Khmer Rouge began to mount some machine gun attacks on downtown Kompong Cham as the defeat of the Lon Nol government and the collapse of Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, was imminent. Judging from their sporadic nature, the attacks seemed more to cause chaos among the city’s inhabitants than harm because, in April, the water in the Mekong River shrunk to less than 1,000 meters across, which was within machine gun’s range. If the Khmer Rouge were to install a dozen or so machine guns and mortars on the edge of the water and fire them onto the city from across the river, it would wreak absolute havoc all over town.


Phnom Penh, which was located about 77 miles to the south of Kompong Cham, had been under siege since the beginning of 1975. In early January, the Khmer Rouge had mobilized most of its rag-tag guerrilla troops to encircle and attack Phnom Penh, the seat of the Lon Nol government. Since Phnom Penh was geographically similar to Kompong Cham (both cities are bordered by the Mekong River to the east), the Khmer Rouge appeared to use the same tactic in attacking it as they did during their attack on Kompong Cham in 1973. They half-circled the city from the western flank and, as soon as the downtown area was brought within artillery range, they bombarded it with artillery and rocket shells ceaselessly. According to eyewitnesses and news reports, we learned that the Khmer Rouge conducted a savage attack on Phnom Penh. There were almost daily Khmer Rouge’s rocket attacks on both military and civilian targets. Though most of us who lived in Kompong Cham at the time could not comprehend the extent of the carnage, the daily unfolds of events revealed a grave situation.

One day, we heard news report on the government radio broadcast that the Khmer Rouge had fired over 200 rockets into the capital and caused tremendous casualties among civilians. We all were saddened by the news and felt very sorry for the people who lived in Phnom Penh because they were going through what we had gone through during the Khmer Rouge’s attack on Kompong Cham City two years earlier. However, there was nothing we could do to bring relief to the people of Phnom Penh except for praying for the war to end.

Beside the carnage inflicted by the Khmer Rouge on the civilian population, the bloodshed at the front lines around Phnom Penh was even more appalling. We learned from various reports that both the Khmer Rouge and government soldiers had engaged in some of the most savage fighting in modern warfare. They literally took no prisoners. Both sides appeared to not only fight to keep the others away or hold on to their position but also fight for their lives, for being captured meant only one thing -- death. Therefore, as the fighting grew more intense, the news of violent deaths among soldiers on both sides became even more gruesome. There were numerous reports of brutal killings of captured soldiers from either side. The Khmer Rouge, in particular, were by far the most notorious killers of all, according to eyewitness accounts. They usually tortured their prisoners first before executing them by means of dismemberment or other cruel acts.

Despite the horror and gruesome nature of the killings, nothing was done to curb such violence. In fact, the leadership on both sides appeared to condone them all along. For example, throughout the course of the Cambodian civil conflict since 1970, there had never been any exchange of prisoners of war between the government and the Khmer Rouge’s guerrillas. As a matter of fact, the Cambodian civil war was probably the only war in history that appeared to produce no prisoners of war. Also, beside the lack of prisoners of war, there were few reports on casualties. We heard little or nothing about the number of military and civilian casualties from the daily government radio broadcast. The only information we could obtain from the government’s radio was whether a town or military post near Phnom Penh had been captured by the Khmer Rouge. Everything else was either too overwhelming to mention or just simply irrelevant.

As the Khmer Rouge closed in around Phnom Penh, the carnage and chaos became utterly unbearable not only to those who had actually suffered and lived through the ordeal every day in the capital, but also to most of us who listened and followed the development of the situation from afar. By late March of 1975, Mr. Lon Nol, President of the Khmer Republic government had deserted Phnom Penh for Hawaii, U.S.A. Also, most foreigners, unnerved by the bloodshed, began to leave Cambodia for good -- a sign of denouement familiar to most countries that underwent revolutionary war, that a change of guard was inevitable. At the same time, we heard rumors that the government in Phnom Penh sought negotiation with the Khmer Rouge in order to end the bloodshed and conflict peacefully. However, if such rumors were true, it appeared that no effort materialized. The Khmer Rouge seemed to have no interest in seeking any peaceful resolution -- not even a peaceful victory. To them, the only victory which was acceptable was the one that came through the barrels of their guns. Hence, from that point on, the stage was set for the final act of violence.

Back in Kompong Cham, things were still relatively calm. We heard only sporadic gunfire and explosions every now and then from across the river near Tonle Bet -- the last government outpost on the eastern side of the Mekong River opposite downtown Kompong Cham. However, by April 10, three days before the Cambodian New Year, the Khmer Rouge started harassing the people of Kompong Cham again. They opened fire at the government’s patrol boats which cruised up and down the river in front of Kompong Cham City. Sometimes, the Khmer Rouge fired their machine guns at the city itself. As a result, we were once again in a state of panic and chaos.

Although nobody knew for sure what the outcome would be this time, there seemed to be something in the air telling us that a traumatic change was about to take place. Thus, as usual, my mother started to pack up some vital belongings along with nonperishable foodstuffs and medicines, just in case we needed to move from place to place again. To her, it was as if by instinct that whenever the sounds of gun shots were near, the exodus of innocent civilians was always inevitable. Therefore, preparation in anticipation of flights had become her priority throughout the years.

On April 13, 1975, as people around the country were quietly celebrating the Cambodian New Year, the Khmer Rouge cold bloodedly delivered their final military assault on Phnom Penh. According to the government’s radio, the Khmer Rouge relentlessly intensified their attack on Phnom Penh. Four days later, on April 17, we heard that the government in Phnom Penh had surrendered to the Khmer Rouge.

The news of the Phnom Penh government surrendering to the Khmer Rouge created great hysteria or jubilation among the war-weary population. To most people, it was the end of an era, a milestone of a revolution, and a beginning of a somewhat uncertain future. The collapse of the Phnom Penh government offered not only optimism and hope for a peaceful future, but it also unified the country and put an end to a senseless bloodshed and carnage between Cambodians and Cambodians. So to celebrate that joyous moment, many people jubilantly went out into the streets waving little homemade white flags, some hugged each other, and some went to the City Hall to confirm the news.

I remember the moment vividly because I myself was one of the “little” people who went out into the streets. As I recall, it was in the afternoon of April 17 when a couple of people walking on the sidewalk in front of my house yelled to their friends who lived next door that the government in Phnom Penh had surrendered, and that people had raised white flags all over town. At that moment, I stepped out into the street in front of my house and looked into the far end of the block. Beside the many people who gathered along the sidewalks and in the street in a jubilant atmosphere, I saw a man tying a piece of clean rectangular white cloth onto a six-foot long flagpole to put it up on his balcony. The homemade white flag looked somewhat beautiful to me. It stood as a symbol of both the end of a war and the death of a regime. However, perhaps the most beautiful aspect of all I had also seen on that day were the smiles on people faces and the expressions of elation among them. There was a sense of excitement everywhere. People expressed happiness and optimism as they talked about the future of their country -- though the future, at that point, was full of uncertainty.

As I jubilantly wandered around with several of my friends and neighbors, we heard that some Khmer Rouge had crossed from the other side of the Mekong River on boat to the city. Curious and excited, we immediately went to the place where people said the Khmer Rouge had landed to welcome them. However, we arrived at the scene a little bit too late. The alleged Khmer Rouge had disappeared. All we found were people who were probably coming to see the same thing we were looking for. From the crowd’s grapevine rumors, we heard that the Khmer Rouge who had come to the city had been taken to a secluded place by government officials, and that the government would not allowed the Khmer Rouge to enter the city. They had to wait until tomorrow. Disappointed, we walked back home quietly and determined that, tomorrow, we would definitely go to see them.

The presence of the illusive Khmer Rouge soldiers stirred great curiosity and commotion among most of us who had been terrorized by and fearful of them. Though I had personally seen the Khmer Rouge combatants a couple of times before as they were captured by the government troops, I had to say that there was something unique about them which had always fascinated other people. I did not know what it was that made the Khmer Rouge so fascinating -- perhaps their simple, peasant’s black uniforms and the Ho Chi Minh sandals that they wore, or the stoic, emotionless looks on their faces. But I must say that there was something foreign about the Khmer Rouge soldiers which set them apart from most of us. And it was that foreignness that made many people both fascinated and curious about them.

As I went to bed that night, my feelings were full of excitement. I implicitly planned that the next day the first thing I would do would be to go to see and to welcome the Khmer Rouge. Then, maybe, I would go to the ferry port to see people who might cross over from the other side of the Mekong River to look for relatives in the city. On the other hand, if my father were to go across the Mekong River to look for my grandma and other relatives who had been forced evacuated from Kompong Cham City by the Khmer Rouge during their siege in 1973, I would ask him to take me along. There were so many things I had in mind that night that I couldn’t even go to sleep. I wished that the night would go by quickly, so that I could get up in the morning to see all the jubilation and excitement in a celebration of an end to a bloody civil war. I even had a delirious feeling that tomorrow morning everything would be wonderful, that the sky would be clear, the sun would shine brightly, and the future would be full of hope and happiness.
(To be continued)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Customs of Cambodia (By Chou Ta-Kuan)

1) The Layout of the City

This city has an area of about 20 (square) li’s surrounded with walls. There are five gates, two facing East, and the rest are facing the other three cardinal directions. Outside the city walls, there are large man-made moats surrounding all sides. Across the moats, there are stone bridges, or causeways for people to cross into the city. The causeway’s rails were carved of solid stone representing nine-headed serpents. Along the rails on either side of the causeways were 54 stone statues of deities whose hands were holding onto the 9-headed serpents as if to prevent them from escaping. The design of all five gates looks similar.

On top of the city gates, five gigantic statues of Buddha’s heads are grouped together. Four of the statues were set to face the four cardinal points of the compass. The fifth, which was decorated with gold, stood in the middle. On either side of the city gate, there are also statues of elephants.

The city walls were built of stone blocks stacking neatly on top of one another. The height of the walls is about 12 or 15 feet. On top of the walls there are no grasses. However, some sugar palms were planted along the battlements. On the inside part of the city walls adjacent to each side of the city gates, there were smooth earthen inclines which were built to reach the top of the walls. Each city gate has huge doors which would be closed off at night and opened during daytime. There are always sentries standing on guard at the doors. Dogs are not allowed through those doors. Neither are convicted felons whose toes had been amputated. The walls surrounding the city form a perfect square. On each corner of the walls, there stands a tall tower.

In the middle of the city, there is a golden temple. Around the facility where that temple stands, there are more than 20 other temples with hundreds of chambers. To the east, there is a golden bridge with two statues of golden lions standing on each side. Inside the golden temple, there are 8 golden statues of Buddhas standing under the central tower. To the north of the golden temple about 1 li, there is a bronze temple whose height is even taller than the golden temple. Inside the bronze temple, there are about 10 chambers. Going northward from the bronze temple for about 1 li, we would see the King’s palace. Inside the palace’s compound, there is another golden temple. It is perhaps those golden temples that many foreign merchants who had visited Chenla often spoke of it as a rich and prosperous country.

Outside the city walls about ¾ of a li from the southern gate, I heard a rumor that there is a mausoleum (Luboun) which was built in a single night. That mausoleum has a perimeter of about 10 lis and has hundreds of rooms. Near a reservoir to the east of the city about 10 lis, there is another temple with a perimeter of about 100 lis. Inside that temple, there is a bronze statue of reclining Buddha from whose navel flows a steady stream of water emptying into a pond located on the northern edge of the temple. To the north of the city’s premise about 5 lis, there is another square-shape golden temple which also has hundreds of chambers. Inside that temple, there are gold statues of Buddha, lion, elephant, oxen, horse, and numerous other objects made of bronze.

2) Dwellings
The royal palaces as well as the houses of the ruling classes and the rich are all facing eastward. The royal palace is located to the north of the golden temple and bridge surrounded by fortresses of palace guards. The central building of the royal palaces was covered with tiles made of lead. As for the other buildings, they were covered with yellow tiles made of clay. The pillars and doorframes of the palace buildings were all intricately carved and decorated with various pictures—the majority of them are images of Buddha. The roofs of the palace building are very picturesque. One palace building has a very tall roof and a long corridor for people to walk around. This building is a pavilion in which the king would receive audience and conduct the affairs of the state. There is a golden window behind which the king would sit. On either side of the golden window, forty or so mirrors were placed on a row of square columns. The mirrors are set atop a decorating frame of elephants.

I heard people said that, in the pavilion, there are a lot of interesting objects. However, there is restriction regarding access to viewing those objects. Among the anecdotal stories I was told, I heard of a story about a golden monument located in the middle of the palace’s compound. People told me that, every night, the king would climb up to sleep in that golden monument. The local people believed that there is a genie whose body resembles a 9-headed serpent dwelling inside that golden monument. This mythical genie is the guardian and protector of the country. Every night, the genie will transform herself into a woman to receive romantic homage from the king. No one is allowed to enter the golden monument—not even the queen. Each night, the king had to stay in the monument with the genie until the 3rd watch before he could return to his palace.

I was told that if the genie woman did not show up, a bad omen will befall upon the king’s life. On the other hand, if the king failed to pay homage to the genie, bad luck and disasters will sweep throughout the country.

Beside the palaces, most houses of the ruling classes are built on large tract of lands. Unlike ordinary people’s homes which are small and covered with thatches or palm’s leaves, the houses of the ruling classes are large and covered with tiles roofs. The size of each house corresponds to the social statuses of its owner. The higher rank one receives, the larger one’s house would be. For persons who hold no official titles or ranks, they could not build their houses like those who hold titles do.
(To be continued)

Friday, October 12, 2012

រឿងល្បើកនិងរឿងនិទាន

រឿង អ្នកចម្ការនិងសត្វស្ការ

(បទពាក្យ ៧)
សម័យមួយមានអ្នកចម្ការ                    រើសបានកូនស្ការកំព្រាមេ
យកមកចិញ្ចឹមថ្នាក់ថ្នមថែ                    ឲ្យរស់នៅក្បែរបានជាគ្នា ។
ស្ការនោះមានចិត្តជួយម្ចាស់ណាស់     វាមើលថែផ្ទះខំការពារ
មិនឲ្យសត្វល្អិតចង្រៃណា                    បំផ្លាញទ្រព្យាម្ចាស់វាឡើយ ។
ថ្ងៃមួយម្ចាស់ស្ការអ្នកចម្ការ                   ដាក់ឲ្យកូនង៉ាគេងលើខ្នើយ
នៅក្នុងអង្រឹងយោលរំភើយ                  រួចហើយឆ្លៀតធ្វើកិច្ចការខ្លះ ។
ខណៈនោះមានពស់ថ្លាន់ធំ                  លូនមកសំងំនៅក្នុងផ្ទះ
ប្រុងខាំកូនង៉ាស្ការឃើញច្បាស់            វាក៏រូតរះចូលការពារ ។
ប្រយុទ្ធតតាំងនឹងសត្វពស់                   កើតជាជម្លោះខ្លាំងមហិមា
សម្លេងក្តុងក្តាំងភ្ញាក់កូនង៉ា                   ស្រែកយំឡូឡាផ្អើលឆោឡោ ។
សូរសៀងកូនយំលាន់ឮដល់                អ្នកចម្ការខ្វល់រត់ចេញមក៍
ជួបវាក់នឹងស្ការកំពុងឈរ                   នៅមាត់ជណ្តើរឈាមជាប់ខ្លួន ។
ពេលនោះអ្នកចម្ការគិតថា                   ឈាមជាប់ខ្លួនស្ការជាឈាមកូន
សត្វស្ការពិតជាខាំកូនស្ងួន                  ទើបឈាមជាប់ខ្លួនវាដូច្នេះ ។
ខឹងណាស់គាត់ក៏ស្ទុះចូលទៅ             ដៃទាញពូថៅពីចង្កេះ
សំពងក្បាលស្ការមុនត្រិះរិះ           ស្ការបែកក្បាលប្រេះស្លាប់ទាន់ហន់ ។
វាយស្ការស្លាប់ហើយអ្នកចម្ការ            ប្រញាប់ម្នីម្នាដើររួសរាន់
ទៅមើលកូនង៉ាជាបន្ទាន់                   ឃើញខ្មោចពស់ស្លន់ស្លុតចិត្តក្រៃ ។
ការពិតសត្វស្ការខាំពស់សោះ            ដើម្បីសង្គ្រោះបុត្រចរណៃ
ឲ្យឆ្លងផុតគ្រោះកាចចង្រៃ                   មិនគួរជ្រុលដៃវាយប្រហារ ។
ប្រល័យឲ្យក្ស័យជីវិតបង់                     សត្វស្ការស្លូតត្រង់ឥតទោសា
ព្រោះតែកំហឹងនិងមោហៈ                   សម្លាប់សត្វស្ការអសារបង់ ៕
"ខឹងខុស ខឹងខូច ខឹងខាត"

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

រឿងល្បើកនិងរឿងនិទាន

រឿង អ្នកឃ្វាលពពែនិងហ្វូងពពែព្រៃ

អ្នកឃ្វាលពពែម្នាក់ បានគៀងហ្វូងពពែគាត់ ឲ្យទៅស៊ីស្មៅនៅទីវាល
មួយ ក្បែរមាត់ព្រៃ ។ ខណៈនោះ មានពពែព្រៃមួយហ្វូង បានចូលមក
ស៊ីស្មៅ ឡូកឡំជាមួយហ្វូងពពែគាត់ ។ លុះដល់ពេលថ្ងៃរៀបលិច អ្នក
ឃ្វាលពពែ ក៏បានអន្ទងកៀងយកពពែព្រៃ មកបញ្ចូលនៅក្នុងក្រោល
ជាមួយនឹងពពែរបស់គាត់ ដោយគិតក្នុងចិត្តថាៈ មិនយូរមិនឆាប់ ពពែ
ព្រៃទាំងនោះ នឹងបានក្លាយជាទ្រព្យសម្បត្តិរបស់គាត់ ។
ស្អែកឡើង មានភ្លៀងពុំជូកាលមួយ ធ្លាក់មកយ៉ាងខ្លាំង បណ្តាលឲ្យ
អ្នកឃ្វាលពពែ មិនអាចបញ្ចេញពពែរបស់គាត់ចេញពីក្រោល ឲ្យទៅ
ស៊ីស្មៅនៅទីវាលបានឡើយ ។ ដើម្បីកុំឲ្យពពែរបស់គាត់ ជ្រួលច្របល់
ខ្លាំង ដោយសារការឃ្លានចំណី អ្នកឃ្វាលពពែក៏យកចំបើង និងគ្រាប់
ធញ្ញជាតិមួយចំនួន ទៅឲ្យពពែទាំងនោះស៊ីសម្រន់ការស្រេកឃ្លាន ។ នៅពេលដែលគាត់ដាក់ចំបើង និងគ្រាប់ធញ្ញជាតិ ឲ្យពពែទាំងអស់ស៊ី អ្នកឃ្វាលពពែបានឲ្យពពែរបស់គាត់ ស៊ីតែបន្តិចបន្តួច ល្មមតែកុំឲ្យពួក
វា ឃ្លានដាច់ពោះស្លាប់តែប៉ុណ្ណោះ ។ ប៉ុន្តែ គាត់បានដាក់ចំបើង និង
គ្រាប់ធញ្ញជាតិយ៉ាងច្រើនហូរហៀរ ឲ្យទៅពួកពពែព្រៃស៊ី ដើម្បីទាក់
ទាញពួកវា ឲ្យមករស់នៅជាមួយគាត់ ។
ភ្លៀងបានបន្តធ្លាក់ខ្ចោកៗឥតឈប់ឈរ អស់រយៈពេលប្រាំពីរយប់ប្រាំ
ពីរថ្ងៃ ។ លុះភ្លៀងឈប់ធ្លាក់ អ្នកឃ្វាលពពែ ក៏បានបញ្ចេញពពែទាំង
អស់ពីក្រោល ឲ្យទៅស៊ីស្មៅ នៅក្បែរមាត់ព្រៃដូចសព្វដង ។ នៅពេល
ដែលគាត់ដេញហ្វូងពពែ មកជិតដល់មាត់ព្រៃ ពពែព្រៃក៏នាំគ្នារត់ ចូល
ទៅក្នុងព្រៃវិញអស់ទៅ ។ ឃើញដូច្នោះ អ្នកឃ្វាលពពែ ក៏ស្រែកជេរ
តិះដៀលពពែព្រៃ ថាជាសត្វរមិលគុណ ។ ព្រោះថា នៅពេលដែល
មានភ្លៀងធ្លាក់ខ្លាំង បណ្តាលឲ្យពួកវាចេញទៅរកចំណីស៊ីមិនបាន
គាត់បានបំប៉នចំណី និងថែទាំពួកវា លើសពីពពែរបស់គាត់ទៅទៀត ។
ប៉ុន្តែ បន្ទាប់ពីពួកវា បានរួចផុតពីគ្រោះអត់ឃ្លាន ពួកវាបែរជារត់ចោល
គាត់ ធ្វើព្រងើយ ។ លុះឮអ្នកឃ្វាលពពែ ជេរវាដូច្នោះ ពពែព្រៃមួយ
បានងាកមកឆ្លើយ តបទៅគាត់វិញថា៖ “នែ៎ ! មនុស្សឆោត អ្វីដែលអ្នក
បានធ្វើចំពោះពួកយើង កាលពីពេលភ្លៀងកំពុងធ្លាក់នោះ វាគឺជាហេតុ
ផល ដ៏ច្បាស់លាស់បំផុត សម្រាប់ឲ្យពួកយើងចាកចោលអ្នក ព្រោះថា
បើអ្នកសុខចិត្ត យកអាហារពីពពែរបស់អ្នក មកបំប៉នពួកយើងនោះ អ្នក
នឹងយកអាហារពីពួកយើង ទៅបំប៉នពពែដទៃទៀតជាមិនខាន នៅ
ពេលដែលពពែទាំងនោះ ចូលមកនៅជាមួយអ្នក បន្ទាប់ពីពួកយើង” ៕

"ចំណេះជិះកឯង"           ពាក្យព្រឹទ្ធព្រេងទូន្មានចៅ កុំចោលមិត្តញាតិផៅ     ក្រែងលោត្រូវគេបោកប្រាស់

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Fables and Folktales

រឿង ម្តាយទំរើសកូន

ក្មេងប្រុសម្នាក់បានលួចសៀវភៅមួយក្បាល ពីសិស្សរួមថ្នាក់របស់វា ។
នៅពេលមកដល់ផ្ទះ វាបានយកសៀវភៅដែលវាលួចគេនោះ ទៅឲ្យ
ម្តាយវា ។ ម្តាយក្មេងនោះ មិនត្រឹមតែមិនវាយប្រដៅវា ឲ្យឈប់លួច
សៀវភៅគេនោះទេ គាត់ថែមទាំងលើកទឹកចិត្តវា ឲ្យប្រព្រឹត្តអំពើមិន
គប្បីនេះតទៅទៀត ។ ក្រោយមក ក្មេងនោះមិនត្រឹមតែលួចសៀវភៅ
តែប៉ុណ្ណោះទេ វាបានលួចខោអាវ និងរបស់ផ្សេងៗទៀត យកមកឲ្យ
ម្តាយវា ។ លុះក្មេងនោះធំពេញជំទង់ វាក៏បានចាប់ផ្តើមលួចរបស់មាន
តម្លៃធំៗ ដូចជា កង់ ម៉ូតូ និង ឡានជាដើម ។ ថ្ងៃមួយ នៅពេលដែល
ក្មេងនោះកំពុងតែលួចឡានគេ ក្រសួងមានសមត្ថកិច្ចក៏ចាប់វាបាន ហើយបញ្ជូនវាទៅកាត់ទោសនៅតុលាការ ។ បន្ទាប់ពីបានស្តាប់ការ
សារភាព អំពីអំពើរបស់ក្មេងនោះរួច ចៅក្រមបានកាត់ទោសប្រហារ
ជីវិតវាជាសាធារណៈ ដើម្បីទុកជាគំរូព្រមានដល់ក្មេងដទៃ កុំឲ្យប្រ
ព្រឹត្តអំពើយង់ឃ្នងដូចវាទៀត ។ នៅពេលដែលគេបណ្តើរវាយកទៅ
ប្រហារជីវិត ម្តាយក្មេងនោះបានយំស្រែកយ៉ាងខ្លាំង ។ គាត់យកដៃគក់
ទ្រូង ទួញសោកស្តាយជីវិតកូនរបស់គាត់ ។ ឃើញដូច្នោះ ក្មេងនោះក៏
សុំការអនុញ្ញាតពីពួកឆ្មាំ ដើម្បីឲ្យវាបានខ្សឹបប្រាប់ម្តាយរបស់វា នូវបណ្តាំ
មួយ មុនពេលវាស្លាប់ ។ នៅពេលដែលពួកឆ្មាំនាំម្តាយរបស់វា ឲ្យមក
ផ្ទៀងត្រចៀកស្តាប់បណ្តាំវា ក្មេងនោះក៏ហាមាត់ខាំស្លឹកត្រចៀកម្តាយវា រហូតដល់ដាច់ហូរឈាមរហាម ។ ដោយក្តីទោសៈ ម្តាយរបស់ក្មេងនោះ
បានជេរប្រទេចផ្តាសារវា ហើដៀលវាថា៖ “អាកូនមិនច្រឡំនឹងគេ !” ។
ក្មេងនោះ បានតបទៅម្តាយវាវិញថា៖ “ត្រូវហើយ ! អាកូនដែលមិនច្រឡំ
នឹងគេ គឺកើតមកពីម្តាយ ដែលមិនច្រឡំនឹងគេ ។ បើម៉ែវាយប្រដៅខ្ញុំ នៅពេលដែលខ្ញុំលួចសៀវភៅគេជាលើកដំបូងនោះ ម្លេះសមខ្ញុំ មិន
ធ្លាក់ខ្លួនដល់ថ្នាក់នេះឡើយ ហើយក៏មិនត្រូវស្លាប់យ៉ាងអាម៉ាស់ដូច្នេះ
ដែរ” ៕

Saturday, October 6, 2012

WAR AND GENOCIDE

The Last Gun Shot

After the Khmer Rouge’s artillery shell had claimed the life of a schoolgirl in the neighborhood, my father decided to stop letting me go to school for a while and wait for the safety situation to improve. As for me, having been so close to a fatal danger for the first time, the experience almost scared me to death. I sometimes had nightmares and kept hearing the word “Goodbye” the little girl had said to her friends. Though my parents still let me go and play around the house, I was so fearful of the Khmer Rouge’s artillery shell. I was even afraid to go down and swim in the Mekong River which was located just about a hundred yards from my doorstep. So instead of having fun swimming in the river, which I normally did, I spent most of my spare time sitting behind a pile of plywood on the ground floor of my house or playing marbles with the kids who lived next door. Life, for me, was again worrisome and confining. A few weeks had passed but the safety situation had yet to improve. The Khmer Rouge regularly fired their rockets into the city still to terrorize the people who lived across the river.

Despite the danger of being hit by the Khmer Rouge’s rockets, my father decided not to move the family out of our river front home, for he thought that the Khmer Rouge’s rockets could have fallen down anywhere regardless of the location. Also, he figured out that, by staying close to the water, there was a natural protection from the water itself. The rockets which fell into the water usually caused little damage or harm to the people who lived nearby as the shrapnel could not travel out of the water. However, my father’s rationale, though it appeared somewhat logical for escaping the Khmer Rouge’s artillery attacks, proved to be an end in itself. As soon as the Khmer Rouge made their way down to the very edge of the riverbank, they put up machine guns along the shorelines and started shooting across the river. This time, the Mekong River was no longer a natural barrier but an empty space which provided easy view for the Khmer Rouge’s gunners to aim their machine guns at the houses which lined the shoreline on the other side of the river. Periodically, the Khmer Rouge would fire their machine guns, a few rounds at a time, at the houses which stood in front of them. Though the Khmer Rouge’s machine guns attacks rarely claimed casualties (because the distance across the Mekong River was too far for machine gun’s bullets to hit their targets effectively), it caused a great deal of panic and terror among the people who lived in the houses located along the river front as bullets fell on the roof or hit the walls of their houses.

One day, a Khmer Rouge’s bullet hit the front pillar of our house at the ground floor and produced a small explosion. My brothers and I along with a few other people stood nearby the place of impact. Luckily, nobody was hurt. My father rushed to the scene and told us to go and stay behind a pile of plywood. Later on, as things were quiet, we went to see the spot where the bullet hit and found a fairly large scar on the pillar. We felt that scar with our fingers and thought, among ourselves, that if that bullet were to hit someone, it could have killed or caused serious injury to that person.

After the incident, it appeared clear that the only safe haven for us to temporarily avoid the Khmer Rouge’s artillery and machine gun’s attacks was to move back into the concrete house in downtown Kompong Cham. So in January 1975, we left the comfort of our picturesque riverfront home and moved back to live in a three story flat in downtown Kompong Cham. After we moved back to live in downtown Kompong Cham, I was able to resume my schooling. However, things appeared to be abnormal everywhere. There was a sense of anxiety and nervousness in everyone’s mind, young and old alike. At school, we were no longer made to gather around the flagpole and sing the national anthem because of fears of the Khmer Rouge’s rocket attacks. Instead, we just gathered in front of our classroom, formed double lines, and entered our class as the bell rang indicating it was time to begin our daily lessons.

As everyone was anxiously coping with the daily danger, the Khmer Rouge appeared to once again step up their attacks and tighten the noose on Kompong Cham City. We could hear their machine gun and rocket exchanges with the government troops from across the river almost every day and night. By early 1975, the Khmer Rouge had captured all government fortresses located along the Mekong River opposite Kompong Cham City, except one in Tonle Bet, a town which was also an important ferry crossing port that linked the rest of Cambodia to its northeastern territory and Vietnam.

The government fortresses across the Mekong River opposite Kompong Cham City were supposed to be the protecting belt for the city itself. Now that they were captured by the Khmer Rouge, there seemed to be nothing left to protect the poor city, which was struggling to survive on a day-to-day basis, from another possible Khmer Rouge blitzkrieg. If there were no Mekong River to block the way, the Khmer Rouge could have marched into downtown Kompong Cham within hours. In fact, we could even see them walking along the riverbank with our naked eyes. If they wished to bombard Kompong Cham City with artillery shells, we were helplessly at their mercy. But the Khmer Rouge somehow chose to ignore Kompong Cham City and concentrated their attack on Tonle Bet, the last government outpost on the eastern bank of the Mekong River which bordered the city.

The presence of the Khmer Rouge lurking nearby across the river made everyone nervous and edgy. Though government officials and authorities appeared to act cool and calm, there was a sense of panic throughout town. The fact that the Khmer Rouge could have easily boarded boats and quietly crossed over to downtown Kompong Cham any time they wished at night made most people feel uneasy. It would cause tremendous chaos if the Khmer Rouge decided to send a dozen or so suicidal combatants to cross to downtown Kompong Cham on a terrorism mission at night. However, for some reason, the Khmer Rouge seemed to be more interested in playing psychological warfare with the government than embarking on a conventional attack.

To prevent a possible Khmer Rouge crossing the river at night, the government had put its tiny marine troops on high alert. The marines closed the Mekong River to all activities from sunset until morning. They would send their patrol boats up and down the river along the edge of downtown Kompong Cham throughout the night. But despite all the fear and anxiety of a possible Khmer Rouge terrorizing attack, the situation in Kompong Cham remained relatively calm. All of a sudden, the Khmer Rouge mysteriously ceased their mortar and machine gun’s attacks on downtown Kompong Cham. However, this seemingly calm before the storm situation made us even more nervous and fearful, for we knew quite well that, if the Khmer Rouge wanted to mount machine gun and artillery attacks on downtown Kompong Cham, they could do it with ease. Nothing could stop them. We were helplessly at their mercy!

(To be continued)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Essay on Cambodia

Cambodian People, Society, Culture, and Civilization
Another aspect which accentuates the tragedy of Cambodian history is political oppression and the unwillingness of both the rulers and the ruled to confront this negative reality to break away from the cycles of violence which were to become the parts and portions of Cambodian society. Regarding this painful aspect of Cambodian society, Professor Keng Vannsak, a one time Cambodian politician, reportedly told an acquaintance the following words: “The Khmers have been slaves for centuries. In the face of authority, they bow down. Those who use violence know that—they know how the people react.”


It is worth noticing that Keng Vannsak might have made this comment at the end of his political career as Secretary of the “Cambodian” Democratic Party which was founded in the 1940s and, for the first time in Cambodian history, able to empower the Cambodian people to believe in themselves in deciding their political destiny rather than leaving it to ruler to decide for them. Unfortunately, the success of democratic reform in Cambodia was short-lived. Thanks, in part, to the devious manipulation of Prince Norodom Sihanouk, who was more interested in preserving the absolute authority of the monarch than individual liberty of the people, the spirit of people power has been effectively crushed with the uses of political intimidation, persecution, and, in some cases, violence.

Though it is obvious that Professor Keng Vannsak uttered those words out of frustration, the implication of his statement reaches far beyond one man’s anguish. It reveals a critical self-examination—a sentiment which needs to be seriously looked at if one were to find out why Cambodian society takes the shape and form as it is today.

As a Cambodian, Keng Vannsak’s words represent both the voice of a disillusioned man as well as the voices of the many disenfranchised members of a society, who are unable or not articulated enough to utter such critical words the way he does. Analytically, Keng Vannsak’s words strike at the very core of Cambodian society. If we looked back to the earlier part of Cambodian history, one of the known factors about Cambodians as a race or an ethnic group is that they were warriors. In the strictest sense, warriors possess two characteristic traits: violence and submission.

By nature, all warriors must possess the ability to commit violence in order to overcome their enemies’ strength and make a conquest. On the other hand, warriors must also be submissive to those who have the authority over them—be it the Governor, the Prime Minister, or the King. As a people, the Cambodians have been molded, conditioned, and coerced to accept these roles for hundreds of years by their rulers. Consequently, when ordered by their leader(s) to commit violence, the warrior Cambodians tend to mindlessly comply without hesitation. Reversely, when facing with the threat of violence or punishment from their leader(s), these same warriors tend to readily lose the courage to challenge it. It is certainly difficult, if not impossible, for people who have been subjected to such conditioning for a very long, long time to undo or modify their behaviors. For those of us who are familiar with the concept of self-fulfilling prophecy, the psychological effect on a person or persons who have been conditioned to believe in or accept a certain social role could be profound. In practicing democracy, it is imperative that people know at least a few basic things such as renunciation of violent oppression, respect for human dignity, tolerance of critically differing opinions, and, perhaps most important of all, that people have the rights to question or challenge the conducts of their leader(s). As far as Cambodia is concerned, this is perhaps one of the greatest hurdles to overcome, if it were to find and establish a more just society. In this case, one could only hope that it won’t take another 2000 years for the Cambodians to undo those adverse aspects of their social lives which are clearly incompatible with the principles of democracy.

The main purpose of writing this essay is to search for some possible answers to a question: Why does it seem so difficult for the Cambodians to recover from the trauma of their empire’s collapse? In the end, I seem to have generated more questions than answers. One of the difficulties in finding satisfactory answers to the question is the lack of systemic long-term observational research into human behaviors after experiencing a disruption or devastation to their society. Throughout the course of literary reviews for writing this essay, I sometimes wish that there are continuous, imperatively, observational data over the last 100 years or so detailing on how the Cambodians cope with and rebuild their societal fabrics after experiencing social upheavals. Given the fact that understanding human behaviors and their responses to the disruptions of their society is perhaps one of the crucial factors for people to rebuild their shattered lives, it is certainly worthwhile for future academics to take serious looks at long-term (100-year) observational research on how humans respond to and rebuild their shattered society. A comparative observational study could also be helpful in providing deeper understanding in this field. At presence, three countries could be considered as candidates for such study: Cambodia, Afghanistan, and Rwanda. Despite their different cultures, all three countries suffered similar destructions. Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge regime in the late 1970s, Afghanistan under the Taliban rule in late 1990s, and Rwanda under the conflict of ethnic cleansing in the 1990s have seen one of the worst tragedies in human history.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Fables and Folktales

រឿង មេទ័ពនិងគ្រាប់ព្រួញពិស

(បទពាក្យ ៨)
សម័យមួយនៅស្រុកពារាណសី            មានមេទ័ពចក្រីម្នាក់ក្លាហាន
ចេញទៅច្បាំងតតាំងហើយត្រូវបាន
សត្រូវបាញ់ត្រូវប្រាណនឹងព្រួញពិស ។
ចុកចាប់ណាស់គាត់ប្រះដេកលើដី  ហើយស្រដីប្រាប់ទ័ពឲ្យជ្រើសរើស
រកភ្នាក់ងារមួយក្រុមកុំឲ្យឃ្នើស ស្វែងចាប់ម្ចាស់ព្រួញពិសនោះឲ្យបាន ។
“យើងចង់ដឹងថាអ្នកមានតេជដៃ   បាញ់ព្រួញពិសចង្រៃមុតជាប់ប្រាណ
ប្រុសឬស្រីឈ្មោះអ្វីចោរសាមាន្យ    ចិត្តក្លាហានដូចខ្លាឬរាជសីហ៍ ។
តើជននោះមានយសធំឬតូច            បើប្រដូចនឹងយើងជាចក្រី
ឋានៈវាស្មើយើងដែរឬអី                    មានថ្វីដៃប្រើធ្នូឬក៏ស្នា ។
ឯគ្រាប់ព្រួញដែលវាបាញ់ទម្លុះ         ឲ្យធ្លាយធ្លុះខ្លួនយើងឈឺពឺតផ្សា
តើវាធ្វើពីឈើប្រភេទណា             យើងត្រូវការឲ្យវាប្រាប់ឲ្យច្បាស់” ។
លុះបានស្តាប់បង្គាប់មេទ័ពថ្លែង     កូនទ័ពម្នាក់ចំបែងចិត្តខ្លាំងណាស់
ចូលរៀបរាប់ប្រាប់មេថាលោកម្ចាស់
របួសលោកធ្ងន់ណាស់ព្យាបាលសិន ។
គ្រាប់ព្រួញពិសនេះពិតគ្រោះថ្នាក់ជាក់ 
អាចធ្វើឲ្យលោកម្ចាស់មានទុក្ខធ្ងន់
ច្នេះគួរតែព្យាបាលជាបន្ទាន់             ដើម្បីជួយសម្រន់ការឈឺចាប់ ។
តែមេទ័ពបង្គាប់តបវិញថា                 នេះគឺជាបញ្ជាឯងត្រូវស្តាប់
យើងត្រូវការម្ចាស់ព្រួញមករ៉ាយរ៉ាប់  ប្រាប់សាវតាវាឲ្យយើងដឹងមុន ។
យល់មេទ័ពបង្គាប់មិនត្រិះរិះ               កូនទ័ពទាល់តម្រិះក៏រួសរាន់
ស្វែងរកម្ចាស់ព្រួញពិសជាបន្ទាន់   ក្រែងមកទាន់សង្គ្រោះលោកចក្រី ។
ពេលចាប់បានម្ចាស់ព្រួញពិសមកដល់
កម្មអកុសលផ្តល់ឲ្យមេទ័ពក្ស័យ
ដ្បិតជាតិពិសជ្រួតជ្រាបពេញរាងកាយ
ជីវិតគាត់អន្តរាយបាត់ទៅហើយ ៕

Monday, October 1, 2012

Fables and Folktales

រឿង អ្នកដំណើរនិងដើមពោធិ៍

នៅរដូវប្រាំងមួយ មានអ្នកដំណើរពីរនាក់ ម្នាក់ឈ្មោះ ជា និងម្នាក់ទៀត
ឈ្មោះ ជាង បាននាំគ្នាធ្វើដំណើរ កាត់វាលដ៏ធំល្ហល្ហេវមួយ ។ បន្ទាប់ពី
ធ្វើដំណើរ អស់រយៈពេលជាច្រើនម៉ោង ពួកគេបានឃើញដើមពោធិ៍
មួយដើម ដុះនៅក្បែរផ្លូវ ។ ដោយសារការហេវហត់ និងស៊ូទ្រាំនឹងកំដៅ
ព្រះអាទិត្យមិនបាន ជានិងជាង ក៏នាំគ្នាចូលទៅជ្រកសម្រាក នៅក្រោម
ម្លប់ដើមពោធិ៍នោះ ។ នៅពេលដែលពួកគេ កំពុងដេកសម្រាកនៅក្រោម
ម្លប់ពោធិ៍ ជាបាននិយាយទៅកាន់ជាងថា៖ “ជាងអ្ហ៎ះ ! គិតសព្វៗទៅ
ដើមពោធិ៍គឺជាដើមឈើ ដែលគ្មានផ្តល់ផលប្រយោជន៍អ្វី ដល់មនុស្ស
លោកទាល់តែសោះ ។ ជាងឯងគិតមើល ! ដើមពោធិ៍ធំមែនពិត តែ
យើងមិនអាចយកវា មកអារធ្វើផ្ទះ ឬក៏តុទូបានឡើយ ។ បើនឹងយក
មែកវាមកដុតធ្វើធ្យូង ក៏ធ្វើមិនកើត ព្រោះវានឹងឆេះ ក្លាយទៅជាផេះ
អស់ ។ ផ្លែរបស់វា ក៏យើងយកមកហូបមិនកើត ។ ឯស្លឹករបស់វា ក៏
យើងមិនអាចយកទៅប្រើការអ្វីបាន ។ សូម្បីតែសត្វពាហនៈ ក៏វាមិន
ស៊ីស្លឹកពោធិ៍ដែរ” ។
នៅពេលដែលបានឮជានិយាយរិះគន់ខ្លួនដូច្នោះ ដើមពោធិ៍ក៏និយាយ
ទៅកាន់អ្នកដំណើរទាំងពីរថា៖ “នែ៎ ! មនុស្សរមិលគុណ ។ អ្នកទាំងពីរ
ប្រាកដជាអត់មានខួរក្បាលមែន ព្រោះថា នៅពេលដែលខ្លួនកំពុងតែ
ជ្រក នៅក្រោមម្លប់របស់ខ្ញុំហើយ នៅហ៊ានហាមាត់តិះដៀលខ្ញុំ ថាជា
ឈើឥតប្រយោជន៍ សម្រាប់មនុស្សលោកទៀត” ។
បន្ទាប់ពីបានស្តាប់សម្តីរបស់ដើមពោធិ៍ ជានិងជាង មានការខ្មាស់អៀន
យ៉ាងខ្លាំង ។ ពួកគេក៏នាំគ្នាចាកចេញ ពីក្រោមម្លប់ពោធិ៍ ហើយធ្វើ
ដំណើរបន្តទៅទៀត ៕

“ម៉ែឪមានគុណណាស់          មិនសំពះខ្មាស់អៀនដៃ
អ្នកផងក្រៅដទៃ                    និស្ស័យសោះសំពះបាន” ។
                                               (ច្បាប់កូនចៅ)