Bitter Memories







Dany Long


My grandfather often talks about the events that passed in 1970-1975.  During the Khmer Rouge regime from 1975-1979, I was a young boy.  Until I completed primary school, I always lived with my grandparents.  I never really lived with my mother and father.  At that time, I usually sat and listened to the stories of my grandfather. Since the beginning, especially, I learned about his history and the history of my family.  I sat and listened to him and I also questioned him about this and that, because I wondered a lot.  During that time my aunt, my uncle, and my grandparents frequently mocked me and told me that I was young but why did I talk so much?  The one time I listened and took greatest care to remember was of one event that occurred within my family. 


It was probably 1974 during that time.  My mother was pregnant and I was probably six or seven months old.  They seized my mother and imprisoned her in a kiln for steaming tobacco (in this kiln it was so hot and unendurable).  At this time, they accused my mother and our family of selling their farm products to merchants outside of the village, without their permission.  My grandfather told me that between 1973-74, along the base areas and the countryside, there was extreme anarchic chaos.  Many people living in the rural areas were forced to demonstrate and challenge the regime of the Khmer Republic.  Their people only had knives, axes, and wooden rods to fight with the Lon Nol soldiers who had guns in each hand.  Therefore, the Lon Nol soldiers shot many of the people who joined in the demonstration, especially in Kompong Cham province.  My grandfather also said that during that time the people and the families that did not join in the demonstration were admonished and criticized and the crowd of demonstrators just marched on.  If we did not join the demonstration and we ran away, the demonstrators would ax and kill us. 


On the event of 17 April 1975 I was only nine months old.  But according to my grandfather, 17 April 1975, was the day in which the Liberation Army gained victory over the Lon Nol army.  At that time people throughout the country, especially the people in the rural areas and countryside had many reason to be happy and joyous, believing our country had gained peace and the Royalist regime and King Sihanouk would return to lead the country. According to my grandfather, the people in the countryside were very satisfied with King Sihanouk and loved and respected him tremendously.  However, after victory was achieved only a few hours earlier, this state of happiness and joy was slowly deteriorated, when they forced the people to flee from the city, the provinces, and from the crowds of people that gathered.  Deceptively, they said that they were clearing out all the Lon Nol soldiers. 


My family was living in Dey Dos Village, Peam Koh Snar Sub-district, Stung Trong District, Kampong Cham Province. They were not yet evacuated immediately.  I don’t remember or know exactly, but some days later they forced everyone in my village to flee to the forests near the base of the mountain and the fields, where it was easier to clear the forests for more planting.  When they evacuated us my family did not take anything with them outside of two or three outfits. When they evacuated us, everyone in my family separated.  I lived with my grandmother and I only saw my mother at night.  And when I entered school, I usually remembered that on the 17th of April, they would let us rest for one day so that we would remember this was the day we achieved victory over the Americans.  This was also the day in which the Khmer Rouge entered and gained power and forced the people of Cambodia to suffer and nearly 2 million people to die. 








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