Posted by: thequaches | October 20, 2009

My story (part 1 of many)

With Mom being in Cambodia, I cannot help but think about what she has gone through.  What sacrifices she had to make in order to come to America.  I can only remember small details here and there… so I am just going to write them as I recall them…

In 1975, the Khmer Rouge, led by Pol Pot, evacuated all Cambodians from the city and forced them into the jungles of Cambodia.  Their goal?  To purge the city of those in power and to start “new.”  Pol Pot wanted power and dictatorship.  So he forced the Cambodia people to work in the fields during the day and given very little (if any) food.  Families were separated from one another.  Those who were educated were executed…  as I type this, I cannot imagine the fear my parents endured.  My father went to school.  He was educated… so what saved him?  His family owned a farm and my father helped on the farm.  So his hands were not well manicured like those who were solely educated and wealthy.  My father knew hardship.  He understood responsibilities and helped his family.  Mom was also from a good family who owned a business. And she too, knew the value of money and appreciated everything given to her.  She had hard working hands…  Can you imagine your future being determined by the appearance of your hands?!

While my parents worked in the fields, my paternal grandmother took care of my sister and I.  We walked to a location every morning to collect our bowls of rice soup/porridge.  It was mostly watered down rice soup… and for “flavor” we were given a pinch of salt.  Mom would tell me stories of how she worked in the rice fields during the day wishing she could steal some rice to take home to feed us.  She was fearful of what might happen to her if she was caught, so she did not dare steal.  Rather, while working in the fields, she would keep her eyes out for field mice, toads, etc. to catch for dinner.  We were not allowed to eat rice, so we had to hid whatever we had in case the Khmer Rouge came to inspect.

I remember walking the long road to get my bowl of rice.  But I don’t really remember the actual walk or the lines we had to wait in… I don’t remember those details.  I do remember one day asking where my grandmother had gone…  I think she died of starvation.

Mom told me a story of the day when my sister and I caught a toad hopping down the road — we were thrilled to death that we caught it.  It was the best BBQ toad EVER!

I remember during this time attending a lot of  “meetings.”  I think these meetings were held to intimidate people.  Sort of like an exhibit of what would happen if you did not follow their rules.  I asked mom one day if she remembered a meeting where a man was put up on the stage and I think he was tortured in front of all of us. For some reason, I woke up one day as a teenager remembering that meeting.  Mom later told me that there were a lot of those meetings.  Can you imagine that???  I was only a couple of years old!

Between 1975 to 1979 almost 2 million Cambodians died… starvation, torture, execution… almost 2 million!

My brain is scattered… more later…

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Responses

  1. I never knew! I’m so glad you shared this. Your parents were very brave and selfless…I can’t not imagine the hardships they endured.

  2. Wow Steph, I had no idea. Thank you for sharing parts 1 and 2 of your story. I look forward to learning more about your history.

  3. Thanks for sharing your story. Reading it made me want to hear about my parents’ own journey to America again!


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