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Main | Defrost Your Imagination »

Khmer New Year

On New Year’s Day a Kampot guesthouse mother in blue cotton teddy bear pajamas decorates the family altar with cans and bottles of soft drinks, coconuts, durian, perfume, two crystal glasses of milk, candles, candy, bread, rice, oranges, apples, water, incense, photos of dead relatives, cockroaches, howling vicious canines, baboons, balloons, clouds, clones and clowns.

She has a terrible temper. Genetic truth. She is one of a million plain sad angry women. She turns on the TV. LOUD. Her daughters, 4, 6, are entranced and captivated by the visual circus. They never read books.

This is weird because their father was a bookseller in the capital for six years. What happened to literature, what happened to paper, books and education?

Now he sleeps alone having performed his sexual duty, rents out rooms and roars around the forgotten river town on a soaped up 125cc noise machine to alleviate his boredom, spinning his intellectual wheels, pretending to be important making noise, stirring up dust.

Survivors read empty streets on swivel necks. Survivors read food. Survivors read money. Survivors read blank faces in rear view mirrors. Survivors fall in love with their reflection pretending it is real. Hello Beauty. Survivors read the sky for rain.

Survivors read mad dogs yapping, growling, fighting and fucking in the middle of empty black streets without electricity. Screaming survivors read kick boxers killing each other on television. Survivors read their face squeezing pores in a bike mirror Waiting For Godot.

A guesthouse idiot box and cell phones allow the kids, servants, tuk-tuk drivers, families and foreign rats their big chance to give up their consciousness. Another distraction, another day on new years day.

April fools is a new day, replete with new diversions and new superficial heart breaking distractions of immense random chance as people pretend to be busy. Pretending to be busy is a full time job with no social security benefits.

People sing we are pretending to be exactly who we are because we have no initiative or incentive or ambition. We are the offspring of genocide survivors in a fairy tale. Tra-la-la.

On new year TV scream day Angkor Wat Hindu dancers in gold lame silk dresses with towering headdresses perform ancient rituals. Apsara fingers, delicate hand and finger food movements. They celebrate 1,000 tears and years of seasons, fertility, rice, fish, nature, courtship and joy. They are dancing storytellers.

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