First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers (P.S.)
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One of seven children of a high-ranking government official, Loung Ung lived a privileged life in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh until the age of five. Then, in April 1975, Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge army stormed into the city, forcing Ung's family to flee and, eventually, to disperse. Loung was trained as a child soldier in a work camp for orphans, her siblings were sent to labor camps, and those who survived the horrors would not be reunited until the Khmer Rouge was destroyed.
Harrowing yet hopeful, Loung's powerful story is an unforgettable account of a family shaken and shattered, yet miraculously sustained by courage and love in the face of unspeakable brutality.
The chief’s two boys are my age and they like me,” Kim answers. His mouth turns upward in an attempt to smile when we ask how his day went. “They boss me around and I always have to do jobs and errands for them, but look what they gave me! They said that from now on I can take their leftovers home!” We stare unbelieving at the rice and meat Kim displays on the table. “You did a good job, little monkey,” Ma tells him. “Their leftovers are a feast! White rice and chicken! Look Pa, there’s even
These days he is quieter and more withdrawn. With Pa gone and my older brothers at their camp, Kim is the man of the house. But in reality his is only a little boy, a little boy who feels helpless and unable to protect his own family. leaving home May 1977 One month has gone by since Kim was caught stealing corn. The Angkar has increased our food ration and as a result, fewer and fewer people are dying from starvation. Those who have survived the famine are slowly getting stronger. It
washing up for dinner one evening, one of the bullies, Rarnie, walks up and pinches my arm. “Stupid Chinese-Youn!” She hisses at me. My face burns and my blood boils with hatred. As if possessed by a will of their own, my arms reach for her neck and my hands close around her throat, squeezing hard. Her face turns white with confusion. She gasps for air, chokes under the pressure of my fingers. She grabs my arms, her nails scratching my skin. I refuse to let go. Sharp pain explodes on my shin as
alone now. I do not have Keav’s arms around me, protecting me, or Pa, Ma, and Geak by my side, or Khouy and Meng leading the way. I sit there hugging myself when I feel a hand grab my shoulder. It’s Kim. He’s alive! Chou is with him, holding on tight to his hand. “Chou!” I exclaim happily. I have never been so happy! “Come, we have to leave quickly!” Kim yells and grabs my hand as we head back onto the road and into the traffic. Though we do not know where we are supposed to go, our goal is to
taking over our country that she was paranoid the Youns would populate Cambodia and in a few years the country would become no more than a Youn colony. How fearful she must be now—if she is alive—that the Youns, our enemy, have invaded Kampuchea, and as a result, stopped the Khmer Rouge from killing more Cambodians. Every night she told us that a Khmer Rouge soldier could kill twenty Youn soldiers because our soldiers are better and braver fighters. I wonder what happened to the mighty Khmer