outwait outrun outwit


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My dad lost all his brothers during the Khmer Rouge years. One was vice governor, murdered because he represented the old regime. Another, a nurse, was killed during a purge. The youngest was in the military, like Dad, sent off on a quixotic venture to reclaim lost territory from the Vietnamese, never to return. The sister disappeared as well, but she was found years later, through a radio programme devoted to reconnecting family members. Marched off to the north of the country, she had been coerced into marriage with a man who later perished when he stepped on a land mine. Dad had survived by chance, as he had been on a naval ship somewhere in the Indian Ocean, when home became hell on earth. I knew Dad had lost family members, but until this spring the specifics were unclear because stuff gets in the way between the past and its telling. Life, you know? Homework, bills, illnesses and other exigencies—these things matter more in the short run. But time is a curve. Follow it, and you realise it's not an arc into the future, a horizon both immanent and distant, but a steady bend toward the past, which awaits the names to recall its shape of sorrow and survival.


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