Sons of November

Sunday, 29 November 2009

I meant to post my blog yesterday but my evening meet-up with office colleagues and later a friend in Phnom Penh got me off-track.

I must mention here that last Friday, two of my good friends also celebrated their birthday apart from father. One of them is Neal who works as a consul at the Philippine embassy in Singapore. Neal is a graduate of Ateneo and a poet to the core, has published his book of poems, and a very reliable friend for a friend in need. At one point of my wandering four years ago, he helped me through my deportation hassle in Thailand (this is one story I’m putting aside for future entry). We’ve been out of contact for some time now but I’m pretty sure he’s doing a great job as a diplomat, a husband, and a father.

The other son of November is Nuth, a Cambodian who is taking a two-year schooling to become a policeman, apparently his next station after acquiring a university degree in computer science and having worked in a private company for more than a year. Nuth considers himself a lucky person in that he is moving up in the world from a difficult life in his village in Kean Svay. Like my father he ran away from home to find job in the city where he started as a laborer in construction work, became a guard, and later waited on tables in a beer garden/restaurant. And like my father his successs story as an urban migrant, although filled with struggles, is an enduring testimony of an individual’s sheer determination and power to overcome the odds that fate throws at him. Plus throw in the mysterious working of luck.

Nuth, however, had a brush with misfortune on his birthday when he accidentally hit his foot with an ax while cutting firewood in his house in late afternoon. For the first time he said he screamed so hard as the doctor tended to his torn skin like it was beating the living daylight out of him. Earlier in the morning he went to his village pagoda to pray for his departed father’s soul and for continued blessing of Buddha on his family. He prepared a small luch for his family, gathered his nieces and nephews for some games where they were rewarded with small notes of riel. Only, after the laughter and convivial atmosphere had dissipated in the house, the unexpected cruel game was played on him.

Phnom Penh, Cambodia


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