His tired, ripened eyes stared down into the cooking pot of white rice.
How grateful he was for rice. He had once had to exchange the clothes on his back for a small bag of rice grains. Fleeing on foot from the power of the Khmer Rouge, he had found himself in Saigon. No time to say goodbye to his family, he had escaped his home.
Along with his childhood friend, Mr Thu, he built a life in the Vietnamese city, slowly learning the language and finding work as a tuk-tuk driver.
Those days were lonesome. But occupying his mind with work and counting his blessings daily pushed him through. The most lucid memory he has of those times is the unending fatigue. Hours of sleep were few and far-between most nights. He sat up, staring out into the busy streets and picturing where they could be: his family.
The thought of dying from exhaustion occurred to him a few times and he wasn’t opposed to the notion; but all it did was bring on blurred hallucinations of loved ones.
After the fall of the Khmer Rouge, he was able to make his way back home. Cambodia was unrecognizable. The streets of Phnom Penh were barren and grey. Whilst back then the palpability on the streets was fear, now it seemed to simply be resignation and loss.
As he stared into his pot of rice, he contemplated, for maybe the tenth time that day: where were they? No resolution or closure, no answers. He had survived. He was always being reminded of his resilience, his strength and courage. But for him, it was a life of no answers.
He simply waits.
And sits alone.