Memoir of a Thirteen-Year-Old Girl

Surviving the Cambodian Genocide

During the first planting season my family was literally starving to death.  I remember, thinking which one of us would be the first to go?  Miraculously, we beat the odds one day at a time.  One such day we found some water spinach which my mother cooked with a half cup of rice to feed our seven empty stomachs.  My brother Hong told me to never lose hope.  He reminded me of a song that we listened to before Khmer Rouge time.  

Here is the excerpt from “Chapter 5: The French Village”...

Hope Song

Every time we were able to fill our stomachs, we seemed to have more to say to each other after the meal. Hong mentioned that if things ever changed, we should never forget this time. “Even if we could have everything like before, we should make this kind of meal once a week as a reminder that we should not take life for granted.”

“Do you think it will ever change?” I asked.

“Do you remember the song that goes something like this?” Hong replied with a smile while he was trying to remember the lyrics."

     Even though the horizon is far away,

     you can see all the birds are happy,

     singing and flying across the sky.

     

     It is so wrong that people are always fighting.

     They curse each other from this lifetime to the

     next lifetime, holding on to anger.

     

     If you do good, a good heart will find you.

     If you do bad, you can count on a black heart

     to reach you one of these days.

     

     If you still have life, you will always have luck.

     You must not lose hope.

     

     There's always a clear sky after a big storm.

     Don't be afraid to smile

     and hope for your day to come.

     (“The Hope Song")

Hong added: “When you look at them, you see black and evil, but you must not give up.”

I had heard that song before and thought it was boring. I didn't understand what it was trying to convey. But when I heard Hong say the lyrics and Chenda join in with the last verse, I realized that I still had a heart, and a tear dropped. I asked Chenda to repeat the last verse a couple more times so that I would remember and make that song mine.

After listening to many Khmer Oldies for months I was unable to find this song.  So, I decided to sing it from my heart as I remember it.

The song is, Even Though The Horizon is Far Away (Tway Bahw Cheung Maik Naow Chagnai), but I call it, “The Hope Song”.