Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Sitting quietly, motionless in the dark, I spotted some ducks near a pond during a walk through the park with my dad.
“Ba… do ducks sleep?” (I am horrible at anatomy and physiology of anything non-human.)
“Yea,” Ba exhaled between brisk steps.
“Oh. And do fish sleep?” (I heard they slept or rest but I wasn’t sure.)
“How do you know?”
“I used to go into the river with my flashlight and see them lying still at night.”
“Why are you going to the river with a flashlight? To take a bath?”
“Yea.” Ba continues walking; my naive [American born] daughter questions not slowing him down at all.
“And Ba…when did you stop taking baths in the river?”
“We only had places to bathe [other than the river] until modern times,” he answered, after a pause.
“You mean…you took baths in the river from the time you were a kid until the country fell to the Khmer Rouge in 1975?” I asked in Khmer.
“Nung hay [that’s it],” he replied back in Khmer. “I would go to the river to bathe, and when I returned, I carried two big jugs of water on both my shoulders,” he explained.
“What else? For water to cook rice with. There was no clean water.”
~ ~ ~
Each day at home I realize how much I have to learn.
About my culture.
About my history.
About my family.
About how I have a heck of a lot of growing up to do if I ever want to be as strong as my parents.