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"

Sunday, November 18, 2012

រឿងល្បើកនិងរឿងនិទាន

រឿង សត្វលានិងព្រះអាទិទេព

សត្វលាមួយ មានម្ចាស់ជាអ្នកថែទាំសួនច្បារ ដែលតម្រូវឲ្យវា ធ្វើការងារ
ច្រើន តែមិនសូវមានចំណីស៊ីគ្រប់គ្រាន់ទេ ។ ដូច្នេះ វាក៏បានបែបន់ អង្វរ
ព្រះអាទិទេព ឲ្យដោះលែងវាពីម្ចាស់នេះ និងបានទៅបម្រើម្ចាស់ផ្សេង
វិញ ។ នៅពេលដែលបានឮ ការបែបន់របស់សត្វលា ព្រះអាទិទេព ក៏
បានឲ្យវាទៅរស់នៅ ក្រោមការគ្រប់គ្រង របស់ស្មូនឆ្នាំងម្នាក់ ។ បន្ទាប់ពី
បានទៅរស់នៅ ជាមួយស្មូនឆ្នាំង លាត្រូវបានគេប្រើឲ្យដឹកឆ្នាំង យកទៅ
លក់នៅទីផ្សារ ។ រៀងរាល់ថ្ងៃ លាមិនត្រឹមតែត្រូវបានគេផ្ទុកអីវ៉ាន់ធ្ងន់ៗ
នៅលើខ្នងនោះទេ សូម្បីតែចំណីរបស់វា ក៏មានត្រឹមតែចំបើង ដែលគេ
ដាក់ទ្រាប់ឆ្នាំង កុំឲ្យទង្គិចគ្នាបែកតែប៉ុណ្ណោះ ។ ដោយស៊ូទ្រាំនឹងម្ចាស់
ដែលជាស្មូនឆ្នាំងមិនបាន សត្វលាក៏បួងសួង ទៅព្រះអាទិទេពម្តងទៀត
ដើម្បីឲ្យព្រះអង្គ ជួយរកម្ចាស់ថ្មីឲ្យវា ។ បន្ទាប់ពីបានឮ ការបួងសួងរបស់
លា ព្រះអាទិទេពក៏បាននិយាយប្រាប់វាថា៖ “នេះជាលើកចុងក្រោយ
ហើយ ដែលយើងអាចបំពេញបំណងរបស់ឯង ។ ដូច្នេះ បើឯងមាន
វិបត្តិ ជាមួយនឹងម្ចាស់ចុងក្រោយនេះ យើងនឹងមិនអាច ជួយបំពេញ
បំណងរបស់ឯង តទៅទៀតបានឡើយ ។ តើឯងនៅតែចង់ឲ្យយើង
រកម្ចាស់ថ្មីឲ្យឯងទៀតឬ ?” ។ “បាទទាន !” លាឆ្លើយ “ឲ្យតែបានរួចផុត ពីការងារដឹកជញ្ជូនទំនិញរបស់ស្មូនឆ្នាំង ទោះបីជាម្ចាស់ថ្មី ប្រើឲ្យខ្ញុំដឹក
ជញ្ជូនអ្វី ក៏ខ្ញុំសុខចិត្តដែរ” ។ ពេលនោះ ព្រះអាទិទេព ក៏បានបំពេញ
បំណងសត្វលា ដោយឲ្យស្មូនឆ្នាំង លក់វាទៅឲ្យឈ្មួញលក់ស្បែក
សត្វ ។ នៅពេលដែលបានដឹងច្បាស់ អំពីមុខរបរ របស់ម្ចាស់ថ្មីរបស់វា លាក៏បានពោលពាក្យត្អូញត្អែរដូច្នេះថា៖ “ឱអនិច្ចាខ្លួនអញអើយ ! បើ
សិនជាអញ ទ្រាំរស់នៅបម្រើម្ចាស់មុនៗ ម្លេះអញមិនទទួលរងទ្វេគ្រោះ
បែបនេះទេ ។ ម្ចាស់ថ្មីរបស់អញនេះ មិនត្រឹមតែប្រើអញ ឲ្យធ្វើការលំ
បាកយ៉ាប់យ៉ឺនប៉ុណ្ណោះទេ នៅពេលដែលអញស្លាប់ទៅ សូម្បីតែស្បែក
របស់អញ ក៏ត្រូវគេបកលក់ យកកម្រៃផងដែរ ៕
"ផ្ទះឬក៏ទីដទៃ មិនប្រាកដថាមានសុភមង្គល ជាងកន្លែង
ដែលយើង ធ្លាប់រស់នៅនោះឡើយ "។

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Fables and Folktales

រឿង តាចាស់និងសត្វស្វា

នៅសម័យមួយ មានតាចាស់ម្នាក់រស់នៅក្នុងខេត្តយូណាន ប្រទេស
ចិន ។ គាត់បានចិញ្ចឹមស្វាមួយហ្វូង ដើម្បីប្រើពួកវាឲ្យរកបេះផ្លែឈើ
ក្នុងព្រៃ ឲ្យគាត់ ។ រៀងរាល់ព្រឹក តាចាស់បានហៅស្វាទាំងអស់មក
ប្រជុំគ្នានៅមុខផ្ទះ និងចាត់ឲ្យស្វាដែលមានអាយុច្រើនជាងគេ ដឹកនាំ
ស្វាដទៃទៀតចូលក្នុងព្រៃ ដើម្បីបេះផ្លែឈើ ។ តាចាស់បានដាក់កំណត់
ថាៈ ក្នុងចំនួនផ្លែឈើដប់ដែលស្វានិមួយៗបេះបាន ត្រូវយកផ្លែឈើមួយ
មកឲ្យគាត់ ។ បើស្វាណាមួយមិនធ្វើតាមការកំណត់នោះទេ តាចាស់
នឹងដាក់ទណ្ឌកម្មដោយវាយស្វានោះជាច្រើនរំពាត់ ។ ពួកស្វាទាំងអស់
បានរងទុក្ខជាទម្ងន់ ។ ណាមួយត្រូវនឿយហត់ក្នុងការស្វែងរកផ្លែឈើ ណាមួយទៀតត្រូវតាចាស់វាយ នៅពេលដែលរកផ្លែឈើឲ្យគាត់មិន
បាន ។
ថ្ងៃមួយ មានស្វាតូចមួយបានសួរទៅស្វាដទៃទៀតថា៖ “តើតាចាស់ជា
អ្នកដាំដើមឈើនៅក្នុងព្រៃ ដែលយើងទៅរកបេះផ្លែរាល់ថ្ងៃនោះឬ?” ។
ស្វាដទៃទៀតឆ្លើយថា៖ “ទេ ! ដើមឈើទាំងនោះ បានដុះឡើងដោយ
ឯកឯង” ។ ស្វាតូចក៏សួរទៀតថា៖ “តើយើងអាចទៅបេះផ្លែឈើទាំងនោះ
 ដោយមិនចាំបាច់សុំការអនុញ្ញាតពីតាចាស់បានដែរឬទេ?” ។ ស្វាដទៃ
ឆ្លើយព្រមគ្នាថា៖ “បាន !” ។ “បើអញ្ចឹង” ស្វាតូចនិយាយបន្ត “ហេតុអ្វីក៏
យើង មិនទៅបេះផ្លែឈើទាំងនោះ ដោយខ្លួនឯង ? តើយើងត្រូវតែនៅ
ធ្វើបម្រើតាចាស់នោះឬ ?” ។ ស្វាតូចនិយាយប្រយោគចុងក្រោយស្ទើរ
តែមិនទាន់ចប់ស្រួលបួលផង ហ្វូងស្វាក៏នាំគ្នារត់ចូលព្រៃបាត់អស់
ទៅ ។ យប់នោះ នៅពេលដែលតាចាស់កំពុងដេកលក់ ពួកស្វាក៏នាំគ្នា
ចូលមកកាច់បំបាក់ទ្រុង ដែលគាត់បានធ្វើសម្រាប់ឃុំឃាំងពួកវា ព្រម
ទាំងជញ្ជូនយកផ្លែឈើ ដែលតាចាស់រឹបអូសយកពីពួកវាទាំងប៉ុន្មាន
ចូលទៅក្នុងព្រៃអស់ ។ បន្ទាប់ពីពួកស្វាចាកចោលគាត់ទៅ តាចាស់
ក៏លែងមានផ្លែឈើបរិភោគ ហើយនៅទីបំផុត គាត់ក៏បានស្លាប់ដោយ
សារការអត់ឃ្លាន ៕
"ការងងឹតងងល់មិនស្គាល់សិទ្ធិសេរីភាពរបស់ខ្លួន អាចឲ្យអ្នកដទៃ

ឆ្លៀតយកសារប្រយោជន៍ពីយើងបាន"

Monday, November 12, 2012

WAR AND GENOCIDE

The End of a Beginning (Cont.)
After spending about one week at Chamkar Samseb, we were told by the Khmer Rouge cadres to get ready for our transport across the Mekong River. In the next day, we were taken to the riverbank where several boats were waiting to transport us across the river. After we were all on board, the boats took us around the northern tip of Koh Kok (Egret Island) and eventually brought us to a small township called Chi Hae which was located on the mouth of a small river called Tonle Toch, a tributary of the Mekong River.


Chi Hae was a picturesque town. It straddled Tonle Toch and the Mekong River. After spending a night or two at Chi Hae, most evacuees with whom we traveled went their separate ways, either to resettle in their hometown or with their relatives if their hometown were in Kompong Cham City or other major cities, which they were forbidden to enter. Originally we planned to return to our hometown as well, which was located about seven miles north of Chi Hae. However, because our hometown, Phum Chi Ro, became a battleground and was not inhabited by its residents during the conflict between the Lon Nol’s and Khmer Rouge’s regimes, we were not sure if any inhabitant had returned to resettle in the area yet. So we decided to seek temporary shelter with one of my mother’s distant relatives who lived in Phum Prek Rumdeng Lech (West Prek Rumdeng Village), which was located on the bank of Tonle Toch a few miles southeast of Chi Hae.

When we arrived in West Prek Rumdeng village, my mother started asking local people if they knew of the residence of her third cousin named Voan, as there were no addresses in rural Cambodia. Since her last visit, my mother had not been back to West Prek Rumdeng for at least several years and her memory of the place was also vague. However, her persistent search finally paid off when someone in the village directed us to a fairly large farm house. As we entered the premises, a middle-aged couple and a young lady came out to greet us. My mom introduced herself to them, and they instantly recognized her despite many years of separation during the turmoil and civil war. While we were taking turn introducing ourselves to each other, I couldn’t help but reminiscing the same scenario five years ago when we went to seek refuge with Om Ren in Kompong Cham City. It was so surreal. The only difference this time around was that we came out of the city to seek refuge in a rural village.

Om Voan and her husband, Om Seng, were prosperous farmers. They were able to send two sons to attend college in Phnom Penh. One of their sons even went on to train as an air force mechanic in the United States of America. During the civil war, West Prek Rumdeng village fell under the Khmer Rouge’s control since the early stage of the conflict. But instead of running away to live with their sons in Phnom Penh, Om Voan and Om Seng, along with their youngest daughter, Nam, decided to stay in West Prek Rumdeng until the bitter end of the war. Though West Prek Rumdeng was not a battleground area, it had nevertheless been occasionally bombed and machine-gun attacked from the air by the Lon Nol and U.S. air forces during the conflict. So people dug trenches near their homes to use as shelters when the air raids occurred. Om Voan and Om Seng showed us their trench as they talked about life during the war. Through their experiences, we learned for the first time what life was like living in the Khmer Rouge’s territory during those years of fighting.

After we arrived in Prek Rumdeng for several days, my father decided to go to visit our hometown, Phum Chi Ro, to see if it was possible for us to return to resettle there. So one morning, he took a bicycle and departed for Phum Chi Ro by pedaling his bike along a dirt road which ran parallel the Mekong River. When he arrived at Phum Chi Ro, my father found most of the villagers had returned to resettle in the area. As luck would have it, among the people my father met were those of his close friends who, upon seeing him, were stupefied. They were both surprised and scared to see my father in the village because the local Khmer Rouge cadres were keeping an eye out for him. In a genuine concern for his safety, some of my father’s friends told him to hustle out of the village immediately before word of his presence spread and reached the local Khmer Rouge cadres. In a rather risky escape, my father decided to elude the Khmer Rouge cadres by going forward instead of retracing his routes on his return journey, for he was not sure who else had seen him. On the other hand, if word of his presence in the village were to reach the local Khmer Rouge’s cadres, they would be sure to wait for him at the entry point where the road led into the village. My father pretended that he had seen or heard nothing about his being a wanted person and hustled his way across the village. He met my maternal grandma, Yeay Seung, along the way and stopped only to tell her of his and his family’s whereabouts. From that point on, my father pedaled his bicycle as fast as he could to get away from Phum Chi Ro. After passing several villages located along the Mekong River, my father reached the township of Peam Chi Leang, where there was a road junction that led to the rubber plantation town of Chub which was located about 20 miles to the east.

Chub was my father’s birthplace. Before he married my mother, my father spent his childhood and teenage years there. Many of his immediate family members remained living in Chub throughout the years, before and during the civil war. As a matter of fact, one of his older sisters still lived in the house where he was born. Without wasting any time, my father set off for Chub to seek refuge with his sisters there for the time being. By evening, my father made it safely to Chub. He spent the night at one of his sister’s home. The next day, my father left his sister’s home and departed for Prek Rumdeng via National Highway 7 West. After another full day of traveling, he arrived home at Prek Rumdeng with a rather scary look on his face.

At our living quarter in one corner of Om Voan’s house, we sat around a tiny lamp to listen to my father’s account of his trip to Phum Chi Ro and of his escape from the local Khmer Rouge’s cadres. He spoke at a very low voice, barely loud enough for all of us to hear. From his initial encounter with the villagers to his hustling away from Phum Chi Ro, my father recounted his harrowing experiences of eluding the Khmer Rouge’s capture step-by-step for us as we listened with worries and concerns. After learning from my father’s account of what the local Khmer Rouge’s cadres at Phum Chi Ro had in store for us, we lost all hope of returning to our hometown. On top of that, we sort of instinctively knew what our fate would be if those Khmer Rouge cadres found out where we lived. Though at that early stage we had only heard rumors about people being taken away to be re-educated by the Khmer Rouge’s Angkar and never again seen, there were plenty of concerns for us to be cautious. The distance between Phum Chi Ro and Prek Rumdeng was about ten miles or so. The fact that we lived only about a half a day’s walk away from the people who might want to persecute us made us feel very worried.

The next day my mother dispatched my brothers, Heang and Sokha, to surreptitiously go to Phum Chi Ro again to inform my grandma, Yeay Seung, that my father had returned home safely and to inquire further how serious the situation was if we were to return to Phum Chi Ro. The news was grim. Grandma Seung sent the two young men back home immediately, as soon as she served them a meal, so that they wouldn’t go hungry on their way home. Grandma Seung’s advice to us was to never have anyone linked with the family appeared in Phum Chi Ro again lest it attract the attention of local Khmer Rouge cadres. Thus, after learning of the seriousness of what would happen to us if we were to return to our hometown, Phum Chi Ro, we decided to stay in Prek Rumdeng and hope that someday the Khmer Rouge would let bygones be bygones.

While we were staying at Prek Rumdeng, Grandma Seung would come to visit us every other week or so. She would time her travel by getting up in the predawn hours so that she could make it out of Phum Chi Ro by sun rise. That way she could avoid inquiries by villagers, especially local Khmer Rouge’s cadres, about her destination or who she was going to visit. In addition, it was also prudent for her to travel during early morning hours because she was traveling on foot without shoes along a dirt path which was baking hot in the afternoon. I remember seeing Grandma Seung for the first time after having been separated from her since the early 1970s. She remained the sweet little old lady who had always had treats for her grandchildren. On her first visit to us at Prek Rumdeng, Grandma Seung brought us some preserved and fresh fruits, collected from her garden, as well as some other food. We were elated to see her. However, our joys seemed to last only as long as our initial reaction to seeing each other again. Once Grandma Seung sat down and began to tell us that the Khmer Rouge’s cadres at Phum Chi Ro were looking for us and that their motives were to persecute us, sadness and anguish started to settle in. There seemed to be no way out for us except for continuing to live in Prek Rumdeng, keeping a low profile.
(To be continued)

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Customs of Cambodia (By Chou Ta-Kuan)

8) Devirginization Ceremony

Parents who have daughters usually offer them wishes like: “May you have a hundred husbands in life.” Prosperous families that have daughters reaching the ages of between 7 to 9 years old would invite monks or priests to conduct ceremony called chhen thann (a process of girl devirginization).

The celebration of chhen thann was held annually during the 4th month of the Chinese calendar. The government would determine the day for the ceremony, and everyone must hold the celebration on that very same day. For those who have daughters to join in the celebration, they must inform public officials before hand in order to receive a candle, which has a mark on it, to light up on the night of the celebration. When the candle burns down to the marked spot, it was time to begin the chhen thann ceremony.

At about one month, or 15 days, or 10 days before the ceremony begins, each girl’s parents must secure or reserve the presence of a monk or priest to conduct the ceremony. Most of the monks or priests, from near and far, were invited to conduct the ceremony. The well-known monks or priests were always invited by influential officials and the rich to conduct the ceremony for their daughters. For poor folks, they could not select monks or priests as they wish. Public officials or rich people offer lavish gifts such as alcohol, rice, clothes, and jewelries to the monks or priests who conducted the ceremonies for their daughters. The sums of these lavish gifts were worth probably no less than 200 or 300 Taels in Chinese money. For those who are less prosperous, their gifts to the monks or priests should be at least between 30 to 40 or 10 to 20 packages. So, for those who are poor, they have to wait until their daughters reach the ages of 11 before they could afford to save enough for their celebration. Sometimes, people offer money to help those who are poor to earn merits for good deeds. Each year, a monk or priest could only accept an invitation to conduct chhen thann ceremony for only one girl. So, if a monk or priest accepted an invitation from someone, he could not accept another.

During the night of chhen thann celebration, people hosted parties all over the places. Besides family gathering, people build a ceremonial tent and decorated it with a display of clay figurines of human and animals. Those who are affluent, they display up to 10 statues. For those who are less affluent, they have at least 3 or 4. However, for those who are very poor, they do not have any statue to display—just holding the celebration. After 7 days, the ceremonial tents are dismantled. During the night of the ceremony, people use carriage chairs and parasols to carry the monks or priests accompanying by musical procession. There are two small rooms, one for the girl and the other for the monk or priest, being built specifically for the occasion. Inside the room, the monk recites ritual verses, which I did not understand. The music was played continuously. I heard people said that, when time arrived, the monk or priest would go into the girl’s room and use his finger to devirginize her. [Afterward, he dips his finger in a jug of alcoholic beverage and let everyone taste it.] Some people said that he had intercourse with the girl. But others said no. The Chinese are not allowed to witness that activity, hence, I am unable to learn the truth.

At dawn, people bring the carriage chair to take the monk back to his temple. At this point, people also bring silk clothes and other valuable gifts to offer to the monk in exchange for the girl. If they did not bring forth gifts to exchange for the girl, she would become his property and could not take a husband. When I was witnessing this activity, it was on the 6th of the 4th month in the year of Teng Iv in the Tai Tek Dynasty (1297).

Before celebrating chhen thann, daughters must stay in the same room with their parents and remain under their supervision. However, after they have gone through chhen thann, they can stay in a separate place and are free from parental supervision. In terms of marriages, although it requires a large sum of money for dowry, there are some exceptions to the rule. Sometimes, people even had sexual relationship prior to their marriages. No one regards it as a scandalous thing.

In the night of chhen thann celebration, we could sometimes see up to 10 houses in one street holding the ceremony. In the city, the numbers of celebrations were even more frequent that one could easily get lost in the hooplas.
9) Slavery
Those who were considered savages are bought, sold, and forced into slavery. People own and maintain slaves according to their ability to acquire them. Some own up to 100 slaves, while others have between 10 to 20. However, for those who are too poor, they did not have any slave.

The savages are people belonging to an ethnic minority group known as Thong (Chong?) who live in the mountainous jungles. Once they are brought out of their domains into towns, they tend to be afraid of venturing outside of the houses. When town’s folks have quarrel with one another, they sometimes call their opponent’s names such as “A-Chong” which is considered the most insulting name-calling. Young and healthy slaves are sold for about 100 Baos whereas the older ones fetch around 30 to 40 Baos.

All slaves are quartered under their masters’ homes. They would only be permitted to go upstairs when they are needed to perform household chores. Once they are upstairs, they have to kneel down and pay respect to (Sampeah) their masters first before walking about the house. If they were being punished for infractions, most slaves would sit still to receive the punishment. Slaves are permitted to maintain familial relationships only with other slaves. They are not allowed to marry people outside of their status. Sometimes, Chinese immigrants had secretly had affairs with the slaves, in which cases they would be shunned by mainstream folks. No one would interact with those Chinese immigrants anymore. On the other hand, if the female slaves had affairs with other people and get pregnant, nobody would fuss about it since their children would become additional properties for their masters. If any slave tried to run away and was caught, he or she would be marked with blue tattoo on the forehead to distinguish him or her from others. Sometime, run-away slaves, who are caught, are chained (dak kneang).
(Excerpt from the Cambodian Royal Chronicle. To be continued)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Fables and Folktales

រឿង ព្រះពាយនិងព្រះអាទិត្យ

(បទពាក្យ ៧)
ព្រះពាយអួតខ្លួនពូកែខ្លាំង              ចង់ប្រជែងច្បាំងព្រះអាទិត្យ
យកជ័យជម្នះសម្តែងឫទ្ធិ                អ្នកណាខ្លាំងពិតលើលោកា ។
ស្រុះស្រួលយល់ស្របគូភាគី          ខ្នះខ្នែងម្នាម្នីរកប្រស្នា
ដោះដូរឲ្យដឹងនូវហេតុការណ៍         ថាតើនរណាឫទ្ធិចម្បង ។
ខណៈនោះមានអ្នកដំណើរ             ម្នាក់កំពុងដើរក្បែររបង
ស្លៀកពាក់សង្ហាល្អហ្មត់ហ្មង        ខ្យល់ចង់សាកល្បងឫទ្ធិថ្កើងថ្កាន ។
ខ្យល់ដាក់លក្ខខណ្ឌប្រាប់ទៅថ្ងៃ     បើនរណាវៃអាចដោះបាន
ខោអាវបុរសចេញពីប្រាណ             នុះទើបដឹងបានឫទ្ធិក្រៃលែង ។
ព្រះអាទិត្យយល់ពិតឥតរុញរា          ទុកវេលាឲ្យខ្យល់សម្តែង
បញ្ចេញឫទ្ធីបក់ឥតក្រែង                  ដោះឲ្យរលីងអាវបុរស ។
ពេលខ្យល់បក់ខ្លាំងគេក្រសោប       ទាញខោអាវអោបជាប់ទាំងអស់
មិនឲ្យរបូតពីខ្លួនសោះ                   ខ្យល់ប្រឹងលុះអស់កម្លាំងកាយ ។
ឃើញថាមិនអាចយកឈ្នះបាន        ក៏បង្អង់ប្រាណឈប់កែខៃ
ទុកតួនាទីឲ្យទៅ ថ្ងៃ                           បញ្ចេញបារមីរបស់ខ្លួន ។
ព្រះអាទិត្យផ្លែងឫទ្ធិចាំងរស្មី              ចុះកំដៅថ្ងៃក្តៅផ្ទួនៗ
ធ្វើឲ្យអ្នកដើរស្អុះពេញខ្លួន               ដោះខោអាវខ្លួនអស់ពីប្រាណ ។
រួចចុះមុជទឹកស្ទឹងនៅក្បែរ                  រីករាយរហែក្នុងសន្តាន
ត្រជាក់កាយាសែនសុខសាន្ត            ថ្ងៃជ្រេទាបបានដើរទៅទៀត ៕
"ការបញ្ចុះបញ្ចូល ជាមធ្យោបាយល្អប្រសើរជាងការបង្ខិតបង្ខំ"

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Fables and Folktales

រឿង រាជសីហ៍ ចចក និង កញ្ជ្រោង

កាលពីព្រេងនាយ មានរាជសីហ៍ចាស់មួយ រស់នៅក្នុងល្អាងភ្នំដងរែក ។
លុះរាជសីហ៍នោះ ចូលដល់វ័យជរាទ្រុឌទ្រោម វាបានធ្លាក់ខ្លួនឈឺ ហើយ
ក៏ដេកសម្ងំ នៅក្នុងល្អាងរបស់វា ។ នៅពេលដែលសត្វព្រៃ ដែលរស់នៅ
ជិតខាង បានទទួលដំណឹងថា រាជសីហ៍មានជម្ងឺ ពួកវាក៏នាំគ្នា ចូលទៅ
សួរសុខទុក្ខរាជសីហ៍ គ្រប់ៗគ្នា លើកលែងតែកញ្ជ្រោងមួយប៉ុណ្ណោះ
ដែលមិនបានទៅ ។ គ្រានោះ ចចក ដែលធ្លាប់មានគំនុំជាមួយនឹង
កញ្ជ្រោង បានគិតក្នុងចិត្តថាៈ នេះជាឱកាសដ៏ល្អមួយ ដើម្បីឲ្យកញ្ជ្រោង
សងគំនុំចាស់របស់វា ។ លុះគិតរួចហើយ ចចកក៏ពោលពាក្យទូលពិត
អំពីអវត្តមានរបស់កញ្ជ្រោង ទៅរាជសីហ៍ថា៖ “លោកម្ចាស់ឃើញទេ ពួក
យើងបាននាំគ្នាទាំងហ្វូង មកសួរសុខទុក្ខលោកម្ចាស់ លើកលែងតែអា
កញ្ជ្រោងមួយប៉ុណ្ណោះ ដែលវាមិនបានឈឺឆ្អាល អំពីរឿងលោកម្ចាស់ឈឺ
ឬជានោះឡើយ” ។ គាប់ជួនពេលនោះ កញ្ជ្រោងក៏បានចូលមកដល់ ព្រម
ទាំងបានឮ ពាក្យចុងក្រោយរបស់ចចក ។ ពេលឃើញកញ្ជ្រោងចូលមក
ដល់ រាជសីហ៍បានស្រែករោទ៍យ៉ាងខ្លាំង ដោយសម្តែងនូវការមិនពេញចិត្ត
ចំពោះអកប្បកិរិយារបស់កញ្ជ្រោង ។ ខណៈនោះ កញ្ជ្រោងបានអង្វរ សុំ
ការអនុញ្ញាតពីរាជសីហ៍ ដើម្បីនិយាយពន្យល់ អំពីមូលហេតុ ជុំវិញរឿង
អវត្តមានរបស់វា ។ វានិយាយថា៖ “ក្នុងចំណោមសត្វទាំងអស់នេះ ពុំមាន
សត្វណាមួយ ខ្វល់ខ្វាយអំពីសុខទុក្ខលោកម្ចាស់ ជាងខ្ញុំបាទទេ ។ ព្រោះថា
មូលហេតុដែលខ្ញុំ មិនបានមកមើលលោកម្ចាស់ផ្ទាល់នោះ ត្បិតខ្ញុំជាប់រវល់
ទៅរកគ្រួពេទ្យជំនាញ ដើម្បីសួរអំពីវិធីព្យាបាល ជម្ងឺរបស់លោកម្ចាស់” ។
“តើឯងសួររកវិធីព្យាបាលនោះ ឃើញហើយឬនៅ ?” រាជសីហ៍សួរទៅ
កញ្ជ្រោង ។ “រកឃើញហើយទាន” កញ្ជ្រោងឆ្លើយ ។ “វិធីព្យាបាលនោះគឺ…
គឺ…គឺលោកម្ចាស់ត្រូវពន្លះស្បែកចចក យកមកដណ្តប់ខ្លួនលោកម្ចាស់
នៅពេលដែលស្បែកនោះ នៅក្តៅឧណ្ហៗ” ។ លុះឮកញ្ជ្រោងពោលដូច្នោះ
រាជសីហ៍ក៏លោតទៅសង្គ្រប់ ទះចចកស្លាប់មួយរំពេច ដើម្បីសាកល្បង
ព្យាបាលជម្ងឺរបស់វា តាមការណែនាំរបស់កញ្ជ្រោង ។ បន្ទាប់ពីបានឃើញ
រាជសីហ៍សម្លាប់ចចកហើយ កញ្ជ្រោងក៏ដើរចេញមកក្រៅ ព្រមទាំង
និយាយខ្សឹបៗ តែម្នាក់ឯងថា៖ “ហ្នឹងហើយ ! ជាលទ្ធផលនៃការនិយាយ
ចាក់ចុច បង្ខូចគេ” ៕
“កាំបិតចិតដងឯង”         ពាក្យព្រឹទ្ធព្រេងព្រមានចៅ

កុំចងចិត្តអាស្រូវ             ក្រែងលោត្រូវគេសងសឹក ។
អ្នកដែលបាចអង្កាមច្រាសខ្យល់ មិនដែលបានទទួលលទ្ធផល
ល្អទេ ។

Sunday, November 4, 2012

រឿងល្បើកនិងរឿងនិទាន

រឿង សត្វលានិងរូបចម្លាក់

បុរសម្នាក់បានផ្ទុករូបចម្លាក់ព្រះពុទ្ធបដិមាករ ដែលធ្វើអំពីឈើមួយអង្គ
នៅលើខ្នងលា ដើម្បីដឹកយកទៅដាក់នៅក្នុងព្រះវិហារ ។ នៅពេលដែល
បុរសនោះ ដឹករូបចម្លាក់ព្រះពុទ្ធបដិមាករ មកដល់ទីប្រជុំជនមួយ អ្នក
ស្រុកបានឃើញរូបបដិមាករនៅលើខ្នងលា ក៏នាំគ្នាមកក្រាបថ្វាយបង្គំ ។
ឃើញដូច្នោះ លាស្មានថាអ្នកស្រុកមកថ្វាយបង្គំវា ។ វាក៏ងើបក្បាលឡើង
ហើយឈរបង់ជំទែងសម្តែងឫកយ៉ាងសង្ហា ទោះបីជាម្ចាស់វា ខំប្រឹងទាញ
ខ្សែដឹកវាយ៉ាងណា ក៏វាមិនព្រមដើរទៅមុខទៀតឡើយ ។ បុរសបរលា
យល់សេចក្តី គាត់ក៏ទាញខ្សែតីមកវាយលានោះយ៉ាងខ្លាំង ហើយស្រែក
ដៀលវាថា៖ “យីអើ ! អាសត្វចម្កួត វាមិនទាន់ដល់ពេល ដែលមនុស្ស
គោរពបូជាសត្វលានៅឡើយទេ” ៕
"យើងមិនត្រូវទទួលយក នូវកិត្តិយសដែលជារបស់អ្នកដទៃនោះទេ"

Friday, November 2, 2012

WAR AND GENOCIDE

The End of a Beginning (Cont.)
As more and more people pushed their ways out of the city, we were compelled to move along with them. My parents asked Vantha to come along with us so that we could help look after her child, but she did not feel ready to leave the city yet, for she wanted to spend some more time seeking news of her husband’s whereabouts. So after wishing her luck, we moved on with the masses of people.


Along the way, hundreds of thousands of people filled the streets. We would see column after column of people, young and old, walking in every street leading out of the city like a mass march. Some pushed carts, cars, and bicycles while others were crisscrossing from place to place looking for lost relatives. The exodus looked somewhat spectacular. It was probably the largest mass evacuation I had ever seen or heard of in modern history. However, what made the evacuation of the Cambodian people out of every city and urban center unique and horrific was the decisiveness and absolutism of its mandate. Everyone, without any exception, had to get out of his/her home and leave. Those who were wounded, sick, old, or crippled were also forced to go along with everyone else without any regard whatsoever of their health and capability of movement. If one were too sick or too exhausted to move along with the exodus, there was nothing one could do to get out of the dilemma except to wait for nature to take its course -- dying a slow and painful death. The Khmer Rouge did not set up resting stations or organize any medical personnel to assist or care for the sick and the injured among whom they forced to evacuate the city. Neither did they care if anyone died because of exhaustion and sickness. The Khmer Rouge didn’t even pay attention to those who came begging for help as their loved ones were seriously ill or dying. Instead, they turned those people away and told them to move on, for help would be provided further down the road. As we evacuees were to find out later, there was no help at all down the road; they made that up as a scheme to move people along.

The Khmer Rouge’s harsh treatment and apathetic attitude toward the people whom they force evacuated from the city seemed to take everyone by surprise because no one had anticipated or foreseen that they would be that cruel and ruthless, especially toward civilians. But as reality began to unfold, we gradually realized that the Khmer Rouge had little or no regard for our calamity. To them, we were no more than a conquered population who was to be subjected to harsh treatment. Every time we met them, we saw a familiar stern, stoic, and indifferent look on their face -- a kind of chilling reception normally issued by one mortal enemy to another. As we walked pass the Khmer Rouge soldiers, who sometimes stood on the sides of the road, I couldn’t help but noticing their facial expressions. They were cold, reserved, and resentful. They were also full of hatred.

After spending a whole tumultuous day walking chaotically in a crowded street, we came upon an open area on the outskirts of the city where the Khmer Rouge had set up a checkpoint. We were told as we approached the checkpoint to turn in any electronic and communication devices such as radios, cameras, and wrist watches to the soldiers who manned the checkpoint. The soldiers asked if we had any electronic item in our possession. My parents told them that we did not possess any electronic device. At that point, two of the Khmer Rouge soldiers came to inspect our bags. They poked their hands into our bulky bags which were filled with blankets and mosquito nets. After seeing that we had nothing they were looking for, the two soldiers let us continue on our journey. We passed the Khmer Rouge checkpoint just before sunset. Exhausted and disoriented, my parents and some of our neighbors who had traveled along with us decided to look for a suitable place to rest and spend the night. We stopped near a tiny township which was located along a little dry canal known as Prek Doeum Chan. There was a small abandoned marketplace nearby which was burned down and riddled with bullet holes. The town itself was partly deserted because, during the war, soldiers from both sides used the canal as a buffer zone which, in effect, turned the town into a no man’s land.

We found a resting place under the shade of a tree. After setting up a temporary make-shift shelter, we settled down in a dim candle light to eat our pre-cooked dinner that my mom had prepared in the morning before we left our home. It was our first dinner in the Khmer Rouge’s liberated post-war Cambodia. The evening was filled with silence and sadness. Although there were many other families settling along side with us, we hardly heard anyone say anything to disturb the eerie atmosphere. Even little children stopped crying, as if they knew that their daily routines were undergoing a traumatic transformation. As darkness fell, we built a small fire near our shelter to keep wild creatures such as snakes and scorpions away from our camping ground. We lay down around the tree trunk and went to sleep under the bright blue sky which was filled with millions of stars and a crescent moon.

The next morning, we continued on our journey without knowing when or where the Khmer Rouge would want us to stop and stay or if they would want us to return to the city. After another day of walking, we arrived in a village called Kokor. At that village, we were told by local Khmer Rouge cadres that our evacuation from the city was not temporary but permanent. We were no longer allowed to return or to live in the city because the new (Khmer Rouge) leadership believed that the city was a corrupt symbol of Capitalism, Feudalism, and Reactionary ideas, which were the antithesis of Communist society. Also, we were told that to help Angkar clean up the corruption of the old regime, it was necessary for everyone to abandon the old habits or way of life and begin anew by embracing Communism and Communist ideas as guidelines.

In addition to telling us what the Khmer Rouge’s motive was behind the evacuation of the population from the cities, the cadres went on to reveal the details of Angkar’s vision. We learned that market and money had been abolished. Private property was no longer allowed. Everyone had to work and live in communal communities where materials and foods were shared and put under collective ownership. In short, the Khmer Rouge abolished virtually everything they deemed contradictory to their perception of Communist ideology. They even banned all forms of religious practices and forced monks and priests to leave their places of worship and join the Communist revolution just like everyone else throughout the country. From now on anything un-communist would be eradicated regardless of the significant value it might have. The Khmer Rouge appeared to have no tolerance of things they perceived contradictory to their revolutionary ideas. As one of their slogans suggested: “The revolutionary or historical wheel is moving forward; anything stands on its path will be smashed to pieces; nothing could stop it.”

The die was cast! What used to be many people worst fear, especially critics of Communism like my father, had now become a reality. Communism had finally taken center stage in “Cambodian politics”. The Khmer Rouge had not only succeeded in putting an end to the Cambodian civil conflict but also brought Communism in its purest form to Cambodia. Now that Communism was being implemented and everything related to Capitalism was being denounced, the remaining question was what would happen to those who had been born a capitalist and used to live the life of a capitalist? There seemed to be no comprehensible answer to such a question. However, if one were to look at the history of the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, and China as they undertook Communism endeavors, the future of Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge’s Communist vision could very well end up with similar outcomes – destruction of a significant segment of population and society.

Upon learning of the Khmer Rouge’s policy and what would be in store for us in the near future, we decided to move to the eastern part of the country, the area where we were originally from, and where most of our relatives were residing. But our request to the Khmer Rouge’s cadres for permission to cross the Mekong River was temporarily put on hold, for lack of means to transport people across the river.

A few days later, we were told to move to the next village called Chamkar Samseb (30 Farms Village) where local Khmer Rouge cadres would organize boats to transport people across the Mekong River to the eastern part of the country. So we, along with many other families, went to stay at Chamkar Samseb village to wait for the Khmer Rouge to transport us across the river. While we were at Chamkar Samseb, the Khmer Rouge cadres had ordered every family to write down an autobiographical report to Angkar. At first everyone was sort of puzzled about the Khmer Rouge’s directive as to whether one should write a detailed life story or just highlight major accomplishments in life. Just as my father was preparing to write the family’s autobiography, a fellow evacuee surreptitiously told him not to report anything that might implicate the family with the widely denounced capitalist and bourgeois classes. That fellow evacuee told my father that he had just met one of his relatives, a high ranking Khmer Rouge official, who solemnly told him to be very, very careful when reporting the autobiography to Angkar, especially anything that Angkar denounced should not be mentioned on the record.

Before long, we heard rumors that the Khmer Rouge’s leadership wanted to recruit former civil servants and educated people to help rebuild the country. There were places where people could enlist their names and be recruited. Upon hearing the recruitment rumors, my father wanted to report to the Khmer Rouge of his public servant background and seek job opportunity with them. However, when he discussed his idea with my mother, she vehemently objected it, for there was so much suspicion about the Khmer Rouge’s motives. As we were to learn later on, the Khmer Rouge’s recruitment was just a ploy to round up former Lon Nol government officials and those whom they deemed as class enemies to be executed. Thank heaven for my mother’s gut feeling; otherwise, my father would have been dead under the Khmer Rouge’s hands at that point.
(To be continued)