November 1978–February 1979

Loung Ung's privileged life as the daughter of a government official is shattered when the Khmer Rouge army invades the Cambodian capital in 1975. In this memoir, Loung recounts her training as a child solider and her family's suffering during the Cambodian genocide.
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Explore the Words

definitions & notes only words
  1. cue
    a stimulus that provides information about what to do
    Panting like an animal, with my legs shaking and my hand gripping the knife, I attack at Met Bong’s cue, charging at my dummy, I yell, “Die! Die!"
  2. manifest
    reveal its presence or make an appearance
    I don’t understand the electricity in my body, this panic, this sadness, hatred, emotions that manifest into physical pains.
  3. frantically
    in an uncontrolled manner
    “Ma,” I call out frantically.
  4. hoarse
    deep and harsh sounding as if from shouting or illness
    "Ma!" I scream, my voice hoarse.
  5. elicit
    call forth, as an emotion, feeling, or response
    It is said the soldiers often kill children in front of their parents to elicit confessions and names of traitors.
  6. mortar
    a muzzle-loading high-angle gun with a short barrel
    That night none of us can sleep as we listen to explosions of mortars and rockets in the distance.
  7. shrapnel
    shell containing lead pellets that explodes in flight
    Many are dripping blood from their arms and legs where shrapnel sliced through their skin.
  8. implicit
    suggested though not directly expressed
    As an implicit rule, we do not talk about our family.
  9. artillery
    an army unit that uses big guns
    They say the Youns marched into Cambodia only three weeks ago, on January 25, and through their artillery power and army defeated the Khmer Rouge, sending Pol Pot and his men running into the jungles.
  10. massacre
    kill a large number of people indiscriminately
    During his entire regime, Pol Pot had been provoking the Youns’ attack by sending his men to their borders and massacring Vietnamese villages.
  11. efficient
    being effective without wasting time, effort, or expense
    But no matter how hard we work, they let us know we are never efficient enough.
  12. sufficient
    of a quantity that can fulfill a need or requirement
    Even if the family doesn’t love us, they do feed us a sufficient amount of rice, fish that the boys catch in the river, and vegetables from the garden.
  13. hyperventilate
    breathe excessively hard and fast
    My head is dizzy as I begin to hyperventilate.
  14. humiliation
    state of disgrace or loss of self-respect
    For me, the humiliation is too much, the terror too real to relive by bringing it up.
  15. neglect
    give little or no attention to
    Neglecting to look down, I kick something and hear it roll away from me.
  16. grateful
    feeling or showing thankfulness
    “You are a little thief—I know you are. You are not even grateful we took you in. Stupid little thief!”
  17. impending
    close in time; about to occur
    Hearing her hateful words, I cannot find it in my heart to feel sorry for her anymore, and I leave her with her cries and moans and the stench of impending death.
  18. relegate
    assign to a lower position
    They live in a larger hut than the first family, but still we are relegated to the corner of the room.
  19. various
    of many different kinds lacking any uniformity
    Chou and I are to help look after the children, the garden, and various other chores while Kim fishes and collects wood with the father.
  20. reverie
    absentminded dreaming while awake
    The baby in my arms pulls my hair and brings me out of my reverie.
  21. mundane
    belonging to this earth or world
    Holding on to my hate for the Khmer Rouge also allows me to go on living the mundane details of life.
  22. devour
    destroy completely
    Outside, the earth shakes violently as crackling yellow, orange, and red flames devour a neighbor's hut.
  23. engulf
    flow over or cover completely
    The dark night is bright as many houses are engulfed by fire and villagers rush to evacuate.
  24. obstruct
    hinder or prevent the progress or accomplishment of
    Black smoke obstructs my vision, stings my eyes.
  25. plea
    a humble request for help from someone in authority
    I grab the backpack, ignoring the pleas and cries for help.
  26. bayonet
    a knife fixed to the end of a rifle and used as a weapon
    There were stories about a baby thrown in the air and speared with a bayonet; the body of one mutilated man lying naked on top of another; a man’s torso found in front of his house and the bottom half on someone else’s front door.
  27. tentative
    hesitant or lacking confidence; unsettled in mind or opinion
    These images of the massacre play themselves over and over in my head as I take tentative steps back toward the village that evening.
  28. maim
    injure or wound seriously and leave permanent disfiguration
    I’m also afraid of stepping on a landmine, which the villagers say Khmer Rouge soldiers plant after an attack, maiming and killing people long after they have fled.
  29. congregate
    come together, usually for a purpose
    There is an area there where the newly arriving displaced people stay, and where people congregate to try and find each other.
  30. figment
    a contrived or fantastic idea
    He is real—not a figment of my imagination!
Created on September 28, 2015 (updated September 13, 2018)

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