In my interview with Chan
I also asked him about any stories his mother would tell him, growing
up, regarding the Khmer Rouge. He mentioned two. He talked about
the fact that his mother was a teacher, as most know, the Khmer
Rouge tried to kill anyone who was an intellectual. So his mother
had to hide the fact that she was a teacher, otherwise she would’ve
been killed. Apparently his mother was stealthy enough because she
was able to hide that aspect of her life from them. Chan also talked
about his mother's experience when she was in one of the camps.
One day his mother was working in the rice fields and she fell off
a bridge. She cracked her vertebrate in three places and she still
suffers from the effects of it to this day.
Although he didn’t personally experience
the horror of the Khmer Rouge, Chan still claims he has a better
understanding of freedom and what it’s like to be privileged
because of the Khmer Rouge and the atrocities they committed. He
felt he was still privileged despite the downsides, despite the
fact that he was poor. He still had a better life than most. "I
feel privileged just to go outside, to drive my own car. It feels
good to be able to know that food is food and not…you know…scarce."
Five years ago Chan visited Cambodia
for the first time since he left, over fifteen years ago, today.
"Everybody should go back at least once, if you’re connected,"
Chan said. While he was there he mostly stayed in the country side
where his grandmother lived. He told me he really liked the countryside
and its peacefulness, ironically the countryside is where most people
of the "Pol Pot era" died.
For my last question, I asked Chan if
he was "proud of his heritage, country and history?" "Yes,
I think everybody should be proud. Without history you’d be
nobody. History is what you are, we learn from history. I guess
I’m a mixed bag in terms of where I’m at now. It’s
a good mix of two different perspectives," Chan replied.
The interview with Chan Thou took place
on July 25, 2003 with myself, Rose Ann. "It seemed like a very
impromptu affair because there were no "set" questions
written down anywhere. I felt that it was best if I let the interview
run its course. I would also like to give a big thanks to Chan Thou
for allowing me to interview him. It was a pleasure and a privilege.