warn strongly; put on guard
admonishes me. “We don’t want anyone to hear you crying.
dignified and somber in manner or character
“Friendship does not matter; they may not have a choice.” Pa is very
solemn as he speaks to me.
exhaust or get tired through overuse or great strain
“No, we cannot argue with them. We will go wherever they choose to take us.” Pa sounds
fatigued as he puts me on the ground.
make known to the public information previously kept secret
It is best if I just stop talking completely so I won’t unintentionally
disclose information about our family.
distribute in fixed allowances
Depending on when the truck arrives with the supplies, every week or two the chief will
ration each family salt, rice, and grains.
deficient in quantity or number compared with the demand
After a few weeks, even the leaves are becoming
showing or experiencing dissatisfaction or restless longing
“We have to leave,” Pa tells us one night. “People are
someone who is punished for the errors of others
We are different, your ma speaks Khmer with a Chinese accent, you kids have lighter skin, and, besides me, this family does not know much about farming, so the villagers will make us the first
scapegoats for their problems.
a disease caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite
Meng had said when we arrived at Anlungthmor five months ago that there were approximately three hundred new people there, now more than two hundred of the new people have died from starvation, food poisoning, and
move people from their homes or country
Seven months after the Khmer Rouge forcefully
evacuated us from our home in Phnom Penh we arrive in the village of Ro Leap.
These devices have been imported from foreign countries and thus are
contaminated. Imports are defined as evil because they allowed foreign countries a way to invade Cambodia, not just physically but also culturally.
feelings of excessive pride
By wearing the same thing, we rid ourselves of the corrupt Western creation of
for or by a group rather than individuals
In this village, as in the whole of our new and pure society, we all live in a
communal system and share everything.
include or contain
Though we are all supposed to be equal, there are nonetheless three levels of citizenship in the village. The first-class citizenry
comprises the chief, who has authority over the whole village, his aides, and the Khmer Rouge soldiers.
lacking the requisite qualities or resources to meet a task
To instill a sense of loyalty to the Angkar and break what the Khmer Rouge views as an
inadequate urban work ethic, the new people are given the hardest work and the longest hours.
suitable to be used up
In the Khmer Rouge agrarian society, only good workers are valuable, all others are
undergo or be subjected to
However, at ten years old, Kim knows he has to
endure their cruelty to help feed his family.
extremely wicked or deeply criminal
Stealing food is viewed as a
heinous crime and, if caught, offenders risk either getting their fingers cut off in the public square or being forced to grow a vegetable garden in an area near identified minefields.
enroll into service compulsorily
To protect Khouy from being
conscripted into the army and Laine from being abducted by soldiers, they are married quickly in a quiet, secret ceremony with both sets of parents giving their blessings.
endure the loss of
“Everyone has to honor and
sacrifice for Angkar!” the soldiers yell. “Anyone who refuses Angkar’s request is an enemy and will be destroyed!
a state in which all hope is lost or absent
In a matter of minutes, the soldiers come and lead the children away while we watch in quiet
suitable for use as food
We have eaten everything that is
edible, from rotten leaves on the ground to the roots we dig up.
one of a number of things from which only one can be chosen
Now, when the only
alternative is to starve, I fight others for a dead animal lying in the road.
I can count every rib in my rib cage, but my stomach
protrudes outward, bloated like a ball between my chest and hips.
spread or diffuse through
Often the bodies are left in the hot sun, until the smell
permeates the surrounding air, causing everyone passing by to pinch their noses.
having excessive or compulsive concern with something
Pa says that the Angkar is
obsessed with ethnic cleansing.
the state of health
I run to them for news of my sister’s
condition, though in my heart I know she is already dead.
twist and press out of shape
“They acted as if we should be thankful we were told. Now she’s dead, and we cannot find her.” Pa tries to control his anger but his face
pass gradually or leak or as if through small openings
In the thick grass, my tears pour out for my sister and
seep into the earth.
sadness associated with some wrong or disappointment
I wonder about the
regrets Ma must have over their relationship,
regrets about all those times they fought in Phnom Penh over what music Keav listened to or the clothes she wore.