Souvenirs for My Daughters

by Peauladd Huy
Atlanta, GA

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.

  1. To Leave

  2. Mango

  3. Escapes we make

  4. The next two weeks pass

  5. Devadas

  6. So much within

  7. In shock

  8. To be close

  9. Brother

  10. So little left

  11. Reunion

  12. A clear look

  13. Holding onto hope

  14. Still wondering

  15. Postscript

Special thanks to Blue Begonia Press for granting the Khmer Institute permission to reprint this compelling poetry chapbook on our website.

© 2010 Khmer Institute. All rights reserved.