It would be an ideal to be a know-nothing type of kid but definitely not, not in Cambodia. I’m writing now with too many thoughts bouncing in my mind. Will my parents get better by tomorrow? Will they be unable to go to bed tonight? Will those good-for-nothing people vanish into thin air?
This evening, our family’s emotions ran very high. The situation seemed very tense at the end. I missed out the peak of conflict because I was still at school, doing my mid-term test. While trying to finish it by all means, part of me yearned to come home just early enough to see the legal argument between my family and the other side. I arrived when it happened.
In 2000, a handful of villagers kneeled in front of my mom, just for her permission to install their water pipes through our family’s pond. After some time of begging and pestering my mother, they succeeded in getting my mom’s permission and compensated my mom at around $200. That was when their vegetable farms were so inundated that they couldn’t grow any more vegetables. My mom thought that this act of kindness could help them understand that farmers should help each other when a natural distaste like flood was our worst enemy. So, she gave in to their begging and of course, though some of those villagers were at some point at a throaty argument with my mom before. She said she didn’t want to destroy the business of other poor people just because of a bunch of very selfish hypocrites. It turns out that almost 8 years later, that bunch of people filed a lawsuit against my mom, although 5 years ago, my mom asked them to replace their old pipes as they were getting old. I remember that they refused to touch anything about that (their businesses were prospering) and ignored my mom’s request. 2008 gave them a few big rains and of course their vegetable farms were again flooded. That was no fault of us or my mom. This time, my mom wouldn’t let the sleeping dogs lie. She said no to their repiping. But since those people got their way to the district government with some thousand dollars, they won the argument. Yesterday, they even pressured my mom to sign a letter which allows them to pump water out of their farms through our pond. My mother unknowingly singed, which she later regretted. All right, they won because they cheated. The period of pumping wasn’t mentioned in the letter. Because my mom bad eyes, she couldn’t read the terms and conditions in the letter very clearly. She signed! Just today they gathered their relatives and swam through my pond and acted like there’s nothing happening around them or the pond belonged to their ancestors. They didn’t respect us, the owner of the pond.
My mom was almost bursting out crying today. I wish she didn’t. I wanted her to show her strength to them that we didn’t want to be corrupt to win the charge. Those people did contribute to the corruption in the country, obviously. Yes, we might not be very smart people on earth, many neighbours say. We could have spent a few hundred dollars to get an official to run the complaint— we could have done much better to win— but so what? We could have still become corrupt “Cambodians.” Clearly, mom didn’t want to settle the problem with bribery because she knew that money was hard to earn and by spending it for a not worthy cause like that, we’d rather lose. And, now one of the officials who was looking for some pocket money tried to coax us into filing another counter-complaint to them. But actually, I just feel that we don’t lose anything, do we?
Now the other side wants to run their pipes on our pond forever (when their farm is flooded). The governor was acting on their behalf– it was clearly unfair– he even threatened to bring along a truck of military police the next day. Oh dear.. what a country it is! Misuse of power and croonies are all too common!!
I’ve been left dumbfounded… I’d rather keep all I want to say in my mind, Saying it out wouldn’t help, would it? This is what I want to say to that governor’s face– “Who do u think you are, to make other people fool around with my property?” All I can do now is to finish this blog post, calm my family and myself down– we want to be kind to people but we don’t want to allow ungrateful people to please their way without gratitude.
This is Cambodia??