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KLVH-HBOPHANY2

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So we got on a boat. And then we went to another place. And, I honestly, don't remember where we were going. But the next thing that I could tell you, I remember, was pretty graphic in my mind, was that my mother, had, by now... I think, the older, my oldest siblings and my mother, by now, understood clearly, that these people meant business. That, they were not our friends. That they are out to get us. And everybody else. And, so my mother, had... sewn, some money, some cash, into our pillows. And, even though I was young... I understood that my parents had worked, really hard, for, for, that, for those, for that money. And after we got off from this train, this trip, that I told you know about, that I don't know where we were going, and how long we were, I mean, not the trip wasn't long I would say, maybe one night. And, again, we were living, on... a curbside, on a road. And they would come, and we weren't the only one, There were tons of families. You know, on the road. And they would go from family, to family. And, they got to our, they got to our family.... And, I remember, they was saying, "All right, if you have anythings," "that's, you know, you should surrender," "Do it now." and, I think my mother lied and said, "No, we don't have anythings to surrender." "What you see is what we have." And then they came, to the pillows, my mother had sewn some money into the pillows And they ripped it up. And, they took it out and said "See you lied." "You lied." You know. and then they toss it up. And, I remember, just being, completely horrified. And, I felt like the whole time, I'm witnessing things but, but I'm not saying anything. I felt like I am, I'm in this movie. where I'm just sitting still and everybody else around me is moving. And, I just thought, oh.... And they just threw it into the water. And started laughing and making fun of it. And I, just thought, "Oh my god." That's all we have. So, that was what I remember. And, then they said, "Okay, pack up, pack up." "Let's go again." It was always in a hurry. So, we packed up and this time we were on the train. And, I remember, we really worried, because, we did not know where we were going. They didn't tell you. You just, got shipped. So, we sat on this train and they took us to some village, some, some village, so, so far away. And I think it was in the, we had stopped in Battambang. That much, I remember. But, then we left there again. And, then we got, then we had to take we had to ride on, these wagons, cows' drawn wagons, for a long time, to, a really bizarre village that we'd never heard of. And, but there I was talking, to my oldest sister; we didn't stay very long at this one village. And, that, uh they took us again, evacuated us again, to a different village. We stayed at maybe, a week or two. And the whole time, we had very little things to eat. We hardly had any possessions with us. From home anymore. We, were basically, almost just, whatever we got on our back. So, we went to this village called Capri, that's the name of the village. We, have never heard of it before. And I would say that for the first month or so, we were finally felt like, oh, you know not moving. Staying still. Establishing ourselves. And, I remember, by now, I was taught to not tell people about who we really were, what my family did, what my father did, or where we lived. And I had to memorize... a no... a brand new history. And that history was that my mother sold fish. That we lived in Phnom Penh but she sold fish at market. And that my father was a taxi, taxi driver and he died during the bombing. And, my two oldest sisters, they were married, and we used our great grand parents name. And we thought that, that might be a way to, they would not, they won't be able to dig those people up. Cause, they been dead for so long. And we also said, that those people my sister's supposed husband, had died during the bombing. And the reason why we did that is because we understood their system. Is that, if you were married, you get to be you get to stay in the village. Your not gonna be sent away from your family. Well, the problem was, there was so many people in my family if you remember you know there were um, 5 girls and 4 boys, But, by then we lost my oldest brother, So, three, three boys. And, and five girls. And, my two other sisters, we couldn't marry them off or lied about them being married because they were just so young. And, so they were sent away. And, never came home, for, a really, really, long time. And then, next, it was me. They said, oh you know, they always give you the same story. "The government wants you." "The government needs you." Um, the children will go to this "fun camp." You know, they told you, you are going to a camp. And, you don't really get to say "no." You know when they say "You go" You go. And, so, I went and I remember, it was so much fun. The first two weeks or so. Because it was really like summer camp. There were song, there was plenty to eat, and, then they told us they told me and my friends that we had to work. And, I remember, getting up at the crack of dawn, and not coming home until sunset. Everyday, we had to work. We couldn't come home. Moderator: What did they have you do? And now now, we understand, now we understand that was really my concentration camp. Um, every night, after dinner, and dinner, really, was a, a bowl, of rice full of water, rice broth, and maybe, just this much of rice inside. So, we were, always hungry. And, every night, I remember they make us chant. We were being very much brainwashed. They're saying, "You know, the government, "Angka," is, that's what they called themself. "Is, the only true figure that, you know, that is faithful to you and you're supposed to be faithful to "Angka." Anybody, anybody, at all, tell you anything different, from what we're telling you now, is the enemy of the state and you need to turn them in. Your parents. Your brother. Your sister. Whatever." And, we were singing this song, saying all these things, and I would just repeat after them. Just because I had to. But I knew, I knew, that there was something really messed up about that. I, I knew, that my parents were no enemy. Um, so my heart wasn't in it. But, I remember there were at least one family that was, with me. And they came from the same background that we came from. And we knew them really well. We knew their families quite well. You know, back before the war. Before the Khmer Rouge. And, he was completely brainwashed. He was.... Moderator: How could you tell? He would report on people that were stealing things and he would beat them up. He would do, all the things the horrible things that you hear that the Khmer Rouge did. They tortured people. He was part of that team. You know. And, he, he was, very proud to be. They made him a leader. And, yes, he... And funny... he's here today. I actually met him. And, I remember this. And I remember, crying, every night because I was still very little. And I wanted, so much, to go home, to my mother. But, they wouldn't let me. They wouldn't let us. Um, going home was not allowed. Moderator: "Do you remember any of these songs, or chants, or anything?" I don't and I hated them. I mean, I said it when they come around. You know, I move my lips, but, I didn't want to remember and I didn't want to know. Because, I knew what they were doing was really, really, wrong. But, I had no power. I had to be really quiet. But, I remember, I was just I missed my mother so much. And, I wanted to go see her, but, they wouldn't let me. And they knew. I knew that, if you disobey, you would get punished. And that means, they would tie you up, elbow to elbow, and leave you, under a tree. Or somewhere, where there was, you know ants. And they would bite you and eat you up. And, no food all day. I knew this, because it happened to one of the girls, who stayed in my quarter. Because, she had heard that her mother was very ill. And, I think, in her family, everybody died, except the two of em. And she wanted to go to her and so she left. She had asked permission. But they said, "No." They laughed in her face. And so, she left anyway. When she came back... That's what they did. They tied her up and left her. And they told all of us, If any one of us help her, we'd be joining her. She stayed like that for sooo long. I mean it was sooo scared. And I remember at night, we'd sleep, and the roaches.... As soon as you turn off the light, the roaches, just, phachoow, come and almost, eat you alive. And they would just go to her. And finally they untied her, and she passed out. Moderator: So, say, they left her like that Moderator: for several days then? Yeah. I, uh, I don't know how many days. But, at least two days. And, she didn't... I remember going to find something to eat with her, afterward, but neither one of us said anything. And also I was afraid that, that, they might think, that I'm conspiring with her. But, I was, sooo.... I cannot, begin to tell you how much.... I wanted my mother. So, I decided, to run away. I had heard the village children talk about you know reading the stars at night and finding directions. And, I had a couple of friends whom I trusted. And, so I told them I said, "You know... I'm gonna do it. I'm gonna run away." They...I said, "Do you guys wanna come with me?" And, I honestly, don't remember who those people were. But I had friends with me. And so we got up in the middle of the night After everybody went to sleep. And we walked. And we walked. And I remember, when we were going through these, you know they're just these rice fields. and I know that, from the camp where I was staying, and the place where my mother was staying, Capri the village, Uh, I think it takes you about a day walk. And I remember getting to a big pond or something and I had to cross it. And, I didn't know how to swim. I was scared to death. I don't how I did it. I don't know what happened. I don't remember. Um, I blacked out now. But, I got to my mother. And, I had dreamed, of this homecoming. I had a whole picture. A whole painting of it in my head. That my mother was gonna be so happy. She'd missed me. She's gonna give me good things to eat. And you know, I'd get to stay and it would be happy ending. When I got home, it was the total... I mean home, you know, the village where we were, where my mother stayed. I got home and this was one of the...a memory that's really clear in my head. Because it was so traumatic. Cause, I wanted this so much. And nothing, happened the way I had planned, or had hoped for. I got home and my mother was angry. She saw me, she was angry. And she said, "Why did you do this?' "Why did you come?" You know, she was blaming me. And I thought, I cannot believe this woman is doing this to me. Had she, not known that I could have drowned or eaten by wolve? You know, I was a little kid, and I thought, I was a little kid, and I risked my life to come see you. And here you are blaming me. I mean, the least you could do, is you know, welcome me. Much, much later, I'd learned that they had already been at my mother's little village, little house, and said, that I, that she was supposed to send me right back. And, if she had tempted any funny thing like keeping me or hiding me there would be serious trouble. For me. And she was very, afraid for me. So I was sooo... disappointed, and extremely, angry at my mother. For a long time. So yes, they came, and took me back. And, I had to, work. I remember, alone. Without my peers, my friends, and, didn't get food to eat. Um, luckily, I don't know why, but they didn't tie me up. Like they did, the other girl. I had thought, that they, might. but they didn't. I just didn't get anything to eat. And, I was isolated. I wasn't allowed to, talk; be with other children. Moderator: For how long? I don't remember. But then I got used to being alone. And not talking anyway... So, it wasn't... a big deal. Moderator: But it was more than a day, it sounds like. Oh, yeah. They want to make sure you remember. Moderator: Did you run away with other kids, or... Moderator: did you go by yourself? Yes, I think there were maybe two or three other kids. And, I don't, don't remember, who these people...who these kids were. And, we made it. I remember, walking, all night, and some part of the day, before we got to the village. I don't know how I did that. But, I was so determined. Cause, I wanted to see my mother. And that's pretty much, how my childhood was. Moderator: Um, can you tell me what kind of work Moderator: they had you do in that children's camp? That's really funny. You know, when you look at pictures of Southeast Asia, you see these beautiful rice paddy. And they're all, in grids. Right? In squares. We were making those little grid and square. We were to um, pick up dirt and piled it up. Um, most of the time, that's what we did. Other times, we would go into the rice paddy, after rice has been planted, uh, weed, and other plants, that's not rice but grow with it. And our job, was to pull those things out. And, we work from morning til night. Every day. Rain or shine. Moderator: Uh, was, there any kind of education Moderator: beyond, um, I guess the indoctrination... Moderator: that... that was the education. You had to sing and you had to praise the government. You had to say, you love your life. And this is, you know, good for you. And, that nobody else, but "Angka" the government is your best friend. Moderator: Did you get sick during that time? I remember, I've always had diarrhea. And, part of it because I was so hungry. I would eat whatever. And, occasionally I would steal things. I would go in they had these warehouses. And there were always, rice. In the warehouse. They wouldn't give them to us. So, at night I would sneak, and get raw rice, and would eat em, like that. Or I would pretend that I had to go to the bathroom or maybe I had to really go to the bathroom But, I would go to the bathroom, in the garden. And, I would pick, whatever it is that was grown. And eat raw, like that. And I remember, most, most of my life I was just, I had diarrhea. It was just part of, part of my life. Moderator: And you knew that if you were caught Moderator: stealing this stuff that you would Moderator: have consequences? Right, thank god I've never been caught. Yeah, I stole things to eat. And when, we go out into the fields if, I you know, I learned from the village children because, they, they know their environment. They know what they can eat and what they can't eat. And, I, I, see, what they're picking you know, so I would, if I see that there are food and berries, or whatever, I don't remember now Sweet potatoes sometimes grow wild. And I'd learn to recognize, you know, which one isn't. I would pull out one and just sneak it into my pocket, or whatever. Moderator: And you didn't have any siblings? Any of yours that lived with you? I was alone for a long time. And I never went back to my mother. Because, because they, watch me pretty closely. I was the bad kid. But then one year, I stayed there, for at least a couple of years, because I think we stayed in Capri for maybe, three years or so. So, the whole time, I was in this camp. One year, all of a sudden, my fourth oldest sister, appeared. And it was Bophun...it was Bopha, She came, because member when, I told you, they took all these women and young men, um, a, far, far, far away my sister, became really ill. And she had night blindness. And, apparently, she became a dependant. Cause she couldn't do anything. She couldn't work, She couldn't see at night. As soon as the sun set, she's completely blind. Moderator: Mmmhmm. And they brought her over to my camp because I think they knew, that I was there. So that I could take care of her. Or at least, help at her night. She can work during the day. And, then, I would, you know, hold her hand or helped her at night. So, it was really, great. I was really, happy. To have a family member with me. So she came and stayed with us. Until, they evacuated us and the whole village, where my mother stayed too. Another village, when they said, we couldn't grow rice or maybe there weren't enough riel or something, I don't know. And, so, she was with me. So, at least, we had each other. Moderator: During this time, did you know what was going on, with your other family members? No, nothing. I, think, maybe, I was so good, after that one bad escape that, I been really good. and I think, they actually now that I think about it... They granted me permission to go see my mother. One time. But, I was to go, one day and come back that night. And, I think I did. And, that was when I got to see my mom. And, then, you know, mom, would give me the update... you know, what's happening with the other siblings and stuff. She was, um, lucky enough, to have my two older sisters, who would go away to work in the morning, come back at night. Because remember we told you that supposedly, they were the "widows" you know, because, that's what we lied. That's what we told em, The government. So they would say, my other sister, who's been taken away, my fourth oldest sister, Chana, uh, they went to this place, and I don't even remember, the name of it, but its, its, not a place that we ever heard of. And this is the place where they train youth. I don't know if you are familiar with their concept of you know, creating year zero. And mating, "pure" Cambodian race, and then killing everybody else. Well, I think, my third older sister, was a part of that team. So, they took all these young women, Moderator: How do you know she was a part of that team? They pick a group of teenagers I think, in their mid teens or so and they take them to places, that's so far away, that even if they escape and wanna come back home, they couldn't. Because they don't know where they are. And, they get better food. They get better treatment. They get clothed. It was, not bad like us. Like, we didn't have food, you know. And they didn't have to work so hard. And I think their understanding was that, that, you know, they had these mass graves, and in the end, you were all supposed to die. But you know, the Vietnamese came before they were gonna kill all of us. But these groups, they were supposed, you know, they brainwashed them. So, in another word, they were in another concentration camp, just like we were. Except, that we didn't have food. We were treated badly.

Video Details

Duration: 20 minutes and 22 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Producer: Khmer Legacies
Director: Socheata Poeuv
Views: 88
Posted by: khmer legacies on Apr 30, 2010

Part two of seven. San Francisco, CA, Feb. 3, 2010.

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