Famous author Nou Hach gave Cambodia the kind of literature that would live on for decades. Even years after his death, Mr Hach’s books remain relevant pieces that spell of love, culture and history.
Mealea Doung Chet, his second book, talks about love that encompasses borders and wars. The book tells the story of a Khmer Tikheavuth and a Thai girl named Chann Mony. The story was set in 1939, the time when Cambodia was French protectorate.
Tikheavuth and Chann Mony met inside a train, a scene that depicts Cambodia’s rich history of transportation system.
Though the country was considered a French territory during that time and the culture and historical places were pushed to become civilized as that of France, Nou Hach emphasized that newspapers and radio stations as well as Cambodian literature have been preserved and were still widely used.
Tikheavuth, who was a poet, used literature to describe the beautiful landscapes of the countryside, and how his young heart fell in love with a girl he met at the train.
However, when Siam (Thailand’s old name) invaded the Cambodian territory, Tikheavuth started to suppress his love for Chann Mony and even regarded her and her family as spy.
The male protagonist witnessed how the invasion and France’s colonization degraded his beloved country. He saw how political figures corrupted and betrayed the trust of the people. The corrupt system, according to Tikheavuth, was the cause of the country’s downfall.
To fight for Cambodia, Tikheavuth gave up his gubernatorial position in Pursat province and became a soldier against Thailand. With his dedication and drive to save his country, Tikheavuth easily became a committed and brave soldier. He never hesitated going into battlefields despite the risks. He was doing it for his country, he thought, so there was nothing to fear.
But Tikheavuth was shot during one of the soldiers’ fights against invaders. He was brought to a hospital to get treated and regain his strength.
In a hospital in Aranh (near Thailand), Tikheavuth met Chann Mony again. The Thai girl, who worked as a nurse, treated soldiers from Indochina.
Despite the accusations and hatred she got from Tikheavuth, Chann Mony knew she still had feelings for the wounded soldier. So she drove him up to a big hospital in Bangkok where he would receive proper care.
But Chann Mony did not get the appreciation she expected for saving her lover’s life. Tikheavuth was still full of anger and did not even bother to thank Chann Mony.
Eventually, life unfolded for both Tikheavuth and Chann Mony. They were soon reunited and all the anger and longing they felt dissipated in the air.
After all the hardships they went through, their love for each remained genuine and strong.
Author Nou Hach captured the hearts of his readers by giving them a love story that was relatable, especially during the colonization era. But more than the story about two people proving what real love is, Mealea Doung Chet is also about a man’s courage to fight for his country and how he would risk his life just to attain freedom for his fellowmen.