The Spaces Between Your Fingers

Click the image to flip

Flip
I interviewed my father, Chhay, while I was home for the weekend. We discussed his childhood experience in the midst of a war. The mention of Year Zero at the end of the narrative alludes to Pol Pot’s ideology for a new Cambodia. This political slogan is an analogy to the Year One ideology used during the French Revolution. Both ideologies were founded on principles that believed in resetting government from the ground up. The Year Zero ideology sparked a chain of events that resulted in a genocide of over 1.5 million people. My dad lost two sisters due to the atrocity of Pol Pot’s regime, and aims to raise more awareness for the Cambodian genocide.

The hum from the helicopters overshadowed the celebration of the new year. Chhay’s smile quickly disappeared and silence engulfed the streets of Phnom Penh.

“Leave the city now!”, the men in black shouted. “The Americans are coming!”

Fear and confusion rippled through the crowd and a moment of panic fell onto Chhay. Warning shots fire off in the distance and the demands of angry soldiers echo through the confetti filled street.

Chhay maneuvers his way around the unattended food carts and finds his sisters. They rush home to their one-bedroom apartment.

“Find your clothes and pack all the jewelry!”, his dad screams. Beads of sweat drip from his dark, cropped hair onto his mellow-brown skin. His flip flops slap the floor as he runs to the pantry and dumps jars of rice and salt into a pillowcase.

An abrupt kick to the door sends it flying open.

“Everybody out!”, screams the soldier. “Gather your belongings and leave NOW!”

Dressed from head to toe in black, the soldier’s fear is apparent. Chhay recognizes the soldier as a childhood friend and approaches him. Without much hesitation, the soldier strikes Chhay with the bottom of his rifle and knocks him out.

Chhay wakes up on a rusted wagon heading out the city. From the distance, he hears the cries of children and sees neighbors turn into enemies. At his side is his family and an elderly woman, Chhay’s former neighbor. Her tired eyes, ragged clothes, and silver hair make her almost unrecognizable.

“It’ll be over soon”, she whispers. “They can’t take over the city.”

The soldier in front of Chhay orders the elderly woman to handover her possessions.

In an act of retaliation, the woman grabs his rifle. She bites the soldier’s arm and pierces through his skin. A group of nearby soldiers surround her like a pack of wolves. Chhay helplessly watches as the hound of soldiers jam their rifles into her defenseless body.

Bloodied and bruised, she gets on her knees and ushers her last words, “Traitors!”, she screams.

Unfazed by her remarks, one of the soldiers presses his gun against her temple and shoots her.

“Welcome to Year Zero”.

Year Zero

Flag as Inappropriate
1970s
Phnom Penh, Cambodia

I interviewed my father, Chhay, while I was home for the weekend. We discussed his childhood experience in the midst of a war. The mention of Year Zero at the end of the narrative alludes to Pol Pot’s ideology for a new Cambodia. This political slogan is an analogy to the Year One ideology used during the French Revolution. Both ideologies were founded on principles that believed in resetting government from the ground up. The Year Zero ideology sparked a chain of events that resulted in a genocide of over 1.5 million people. My dad lost two sisters due to the atrocity of Pol Pot’s regime, and aims to raise more awareness for the Cambodian genocide.

Decade: 1970s
Rating:
Recorded by Jason Ngov on December 4, 2018
×
×
4
×
Alert IconAre you sure you want to permanently delete this postcard? You cannot undo this action. Delete
×