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!"
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.
in an uncontrolled manner
“Ma,” I call out
deep and harsh sounding as if from shouting or illness
"Ma!" I scream, my voice
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.
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.
shell containing lead pellets that explodes in flight
Many are dripping blood from their arms and legs where
shrapnel sliced through their skin.
suggested though not directly expressed
implicit rule, we do not talk about our family.
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.
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.
being effective without wasting time, effort, or expense
But no matter how hard we work, they let us know we are never
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.
breathe excessively hard and fast
My head is dizzy as I begin to
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.
give little or no attention to
Neglecting to look down, I kick something and hear it roll away from me.
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!”
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
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.
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.
absentminded dreaming while awake
The baby in my arms pulls my hair and brings me out of my
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.
Outside, the earth shakes violently as crackling yellow, orange, and red flames
devour a neighbor's hut.
flow over or cover completely
The dark night is bright as many houses are
engulfed by fire and villagers rush to evacuate.
hinder or prevent the progress or accomplishment of
obstructs my vision, stings my eyes.
a humble request for help from someone in authority
I grab the backpack, ignoring the
pleas and cries for help.
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.
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.
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.
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.
a contrived or fantastic idea
He is real—not a
figment of my imagination!