Friday, September 30, 2005

Sar Patchata Isn’t Only One Without Father

The Cambodia Daily
Monday, December 13, 2004

I hope that someday Sar Patchata will read the book Lucky Child, which the Documentation Center of Cambodia will publish next year. In it, author Loung Ung also recalls her father’s last years. For her, forgetting is also impossible.

Loung Ung’s father was an official during the Lon Nol regime. When she was 8 years old, her father and was killed by the Khmer Rouge. After 1979, she and her brother fled to a refugee camp in Thailand, leaving behind two brothers and a sister in Cambodia. Loung Ung said she tries not to mention Cambodia and her family to her and friends in the United States; in fact, not discussing these subjects is an unspoken rule in her family. But when she thinks about what happened, it is often with anger. She pictures herself as a starving child stealing food from an old woman, blaming her mother for sending her away from the family and offering no resistance when the Khmer Rouge beat her brother, and her father for not fighting when the Khmer Rouge took him away.

She thought that she would feel less pain as the years passed, but this did not happen. Loung Ung has said that writing her books has made her confront the past and allowed her to express her feelings of hatred, rage, and revenge. Only in this way can she struggle and move on with her new life.

She and Sar Patchata are really not so different. Loung also misses sitting on her father’s lap and having a soft touch on her head. And both women have been hurt by their fathers’ absence from their lives. Like Loung Ung, Sar Patchata and all other Cambodians can learn from the past. By doing so, they may be able to uncover the truth about why nearly 2 million Cambodians lost their lives and work to prevent it from happening again.


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