outwait outrun outwit


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On the phone, last night, Daddy said, Grandma passed away. No details, of course, because Daddy's good at that.


I've never met the woman. Never knew the scent of her, nor the sensation of her skin beneath my own palms. Don't even know her name. She's myth, a character in other stories--the story of my parents and the story of modern Cambodia.

She's a young woman in a b&w photograph, posing stiffly before a painting of Angkor Wat, the bullet-riddled Seventh Wonder of the World. Or a phantom glowing on the television screen, as the videotape of my grandfather's funeral rites unwinds slowly, my father scanning for the faces of the cousins and friends he had left behind--all his siblings are long dead; their bones seed forest and field.

Sometimes she's that woman, Mummy says, the woman who abandoned my father, leaving him to wander the countryside with monks, begging for gruel. My grandparents were enamored with each other, and kids--especially their own--were pesky. Strange romance, indeed.


I don't know if Daddy is terribly sad. Sometimes he reads this site, maybe he'll read this. I hope you're ok. I write for you, you know. For Mummy, too, and the ones I'll never meet except in photographs or videotapes mailed across what seems infinite water.


Even if I write in English, your foreign tongue. Even if everyone becomes stories, a sorrowful fiction. Even if some of these stories might not be true--but that's what it is, isn't it, this history we share, rumours and testimonies, something remembered, something after the terrible fact, a Babel of cries clamoring for ascendancy, or release.


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