This is a story about a student who dreamed about a better world.
Look who is coming.
It is mr. Sarun, the schoolteacher.
He is 52 years old.
Every week he comes to the market and stands still on a corner.
Let us listen to his story.
I am Sarun, I live alone. I teach at my old primary school. When I was young, I was a good student here in the village school.
My parents were very proud of me. My father worked hard so I could go to University in Phnom Penh. He dreamed of me becoming a professor.
It was during the Lon Nol period, and the situation was bad. There was so much corruption and violence in the country.
We students we were idealistic. We wanted a better society, a better world. We organized large demonstrations against the government and many of us were arrested.
In prison I was tortured. They beat me up and burned me by electric shock.
But this only increased my anger towards Lon Nol even.
When I was released I ran off into the woods and there I met the Khmer Rouge. They fought for a better society, for a free country. No corruption, food for everyone.
I really believed this. So I wanted to join them.
I realized that I could not show that I had higher education. I worked hard to make my hands look rough and exposed my face to the sun so that I looked dark like a farmer.
I was willing to humble myself for the good cause. In the end I did everything they wanted. I lay underneath huts to spy on families, I arrested people, I did very cruel things. I could not think as a human being anymore. I became like a dog who looks up at his owner, wagging its tail, afraid to be beaten.
The Fall of Culure
by Ou Sam Oeur
I will be nowhere.
I will have no night.
I will have no more day anymore.
I will be a man without identity.
After the revolution I went back to my home village. Now I live alone and teach at my old primary school.
I heard that my father was killed while working in the rice field. My gentle father who dreamed of me becoming a professor.
They beat him to death because he was too weak to do the work.
Sometimes I am angry, sometimes I am sad.
It’s all a confused mess in my head.
I cannot understand how a whole country could be cheated. How I could be cheated.
Yes, I blame the Khmer Rouge for misleading me, but my Karma is in my own hands so I can do nothing but blame myself.
I go to the market and I see my mother. She does not greet me. She lowers her head and turns away.
I want to tell her that I need her.
The heart of a mother,
is a deep abyss,
at the bottom of which,
you will always discover,
Here is the mother of Sarun.
She is 75 years old.
She misses the love of a son.
I go to the market. I always go when my son will be there too.
But when he looks at me I cannot return her look and I walk away. I am ashamed of him.
My husband was beaten to death and I lost my son when he became one of the murderers.
I hear he is a good teacher who never beats the children, but always explains very patiently and then I am secretly proud of him.
When I go to the market I know that he wants me to forgive him, but this is so difficult.
The mother and the son stand still.
They waver just one moment too long.
And then the son finally approaches his mother. He bows and says:
Mother, will you please forgive me. I have done bad deeds and I am so very sorry. What can I do to be cleansed?
It will never be the same.
It will never be the same.
The Howling Dead
By Ou Sam Oeur
Oh, my love!
You induce in me everlasting sorrows.
Henceforth my world is different.
Henceforth I will live in the trees.
Listen to my howl through the winds.
Look at my sorrows through the grey skies.
Feel my tears through the rains.
O, my incomparable love!