Souvenirs for My Daughters
by Peauladd Huy
April 17, 1975, I had just turned eight, when the Khmer Rouge turned Phnom Penh,
the capital of Cambodia, into hell. My family and I were fortunate to be living in
Battambang, which surrendered a day later. Another day later, April 19, 1975, my
father and uncle left for a meeting but to never return. Later, we’d learned that
they were among the first people to be killed by the Khmer Rouge.
April 17, 2010 will be 35 years since that nightmare. I will be 43 years old,
35 years older. It’s a lifetime ago, but everything is still so fresh, so painful.
I started this writing when I was 40 years old. My daughters’
questions about their grandparents prompted me to reflect, to re-walk that childhood
path, which I had bypassed, avoided for so long. It hurt to talk about this senseless
war and the killing of my parents – writing down the events, hoping to give it to my
children when they’re older, was a little easier. I could grieve in private. So, this
reflection is a sketchbook, with pictures painted by words, emotions, for my little
ones, their little ones, my parents, and for me.
Special thanks to Blue Begonia Press
for granting the Khmer Institute permission to reprint this compelling poetry chapbook on our website.