Continued from KD17506
As I'm typing this, a silky-smooth layer of oil and sweat slowly creeps to the tip of my fingers. My heart pounds to the beat of every key stroke, while and my mind spins to the tune of faded memories from long ago.
Faded, but never tarnished.
I never thought I'd post about my journey--never knew anyone would be interested, except for the few who find my life fairly fascinating, if at all. I'm no one special. Not a writer, nor a preacher. Just an average Joe who eats at your local diner, drinks from the carton and sleeps til noon whenever he can. As as child, I went to public school, played little league hockey, went Trick-or-Treating, and enjoyed snapping girls bras. Heck, in college I even once dressed up as Santa for a children's Christmas party when the original Santa fell sick. An Asian Santa. Wow.
By all accounts, I had a normal upbringing. And today, if you were to look me straight in the eye, you'd never believe my story. You'd say I'm lying. You'd say I'm full of shit. But believe me when I say this: "war is no lie."
It's not easy telling your friends that you're a child of war. While growing up in Canada, I never did. I hid it deep within me. I was ashamed. I was ashamed to be called a refugee, an immigrant, a minority. I was ashamed to say I am Cambodian. My face would turn red and I'd stare at my feet while the other kids laughed and giggled in amusement. Cambodian. Where's that?
My parents worked twelve hour days, seven days a week. When I got home from school, I'd cook for myself, vacuum the house and made sure the meat was defrosting so mom could make supper when she arrived. On weekends, I'd go to church when my neighbors invited me. When it was a Buddhist holiday, my parents would take me to a temple. They never discriminated. I was taught to love, to cherish each other and to forgive. They never cared if that message came from Jesus, Buddha, or Allah. A far cry from the world they had left behind.
It's interesting when you think about it. They've gone through so much pain and suffering, yet, they still find it in their hearts to forgive. To forgive the soldiers who killed their families, robbed them of their childhood and raped them of their freedom. To forgive, but never forget.
Some nights, when my mother couldn't sleep, I'd see her sitting alone, arms crossed, eyes glistened in pain. I'd ask her what's wrong--and slowly, she'd raises her head and look deep into my eyes. Her voice trembled in sorrow, her face washed in fear.
As a child, she would stay up at night and wait for her father to return from the farm. They would spend hours every night, reminiscing about life and times gone by, planned her future and imagined dreams coming true. He'd tell her everything that happened in the village that day, not even the slightest gossip could escape his ears. For a twelve year old, it was the best part of her day.
One night, as she heard her father coming up the steps, she pretended to fall asleep--just to see his reaction. She laid still. Her father, realizing that he had worked late that day, stood there and watched her in silence. He said a prayer for her and closed her door.
The next morning, the Khmer Rouge invaded her village. Lives shattered like broken glass. Blood seeped into the ground, forever leaving their mark for reincarnated souls. Piles of bodies flood the landscape while those who escaped ran for their lives, only to be caught and forced into slavery. She never saw her father again.
I'll never forget that night when she told me this story. I was twelve.
Today, I'm writing for you this story--not to make you weep or to cause you pain, but more importantly, for myself--for a soul looking for closure, looking for light. If I could, I'd take back every moment I felt ashamed, every instance I felt sorry for who I am and where I'm from--I'd take it ALL back.
As I read the comments that you have generously posted, I find solace in knowing that I'm not alone. And even though I've never graced your presence, I know that there's a world out there that understands the complexity of our being, the triumphs and tragedies of human kind. From the depths of my heart I thank you for reading and for understanding.
May peace be with you.