CHAMNEK KHVAS

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Women were supposed to stay at home and be in charge of taking care of children. That was the tradition strictly followed for generations. However, social changes have unfolded dramatically over the past decades. After a wave of feminism movement all over the world, women now play significant roles as men. They can now uphold their rights to higher education, positions and social services. But, can we really call it “gender equality”? Or is it another burden women have to carry?

The complication of this issue is explained in the short story entitled “Chamnek Khvas” or known as the “The Missing Part” written by author Prum Kunthearo. The story was published recently as part of the collection of short stories written by a group of emerging writers called Short Hair Woman.

The first part of the story, the female author tries to debate about the role constraints of being a mother and being a staff of a company. The mother was called to take her daughter from school to hospital because of fever. So, as a staff, she feels guilty of asking the head of her department to excuse her from work for such reason. Should this be women’s role always?

. .

While riding on a tuktuk to take her daughter from school, the mother contemplates on the complexity of her role in the family at present and roles of women in the past generation.

As now she gets a job, has to cook food for the family, bring children to school and does everything at home. Men, however, have to work but never feel the responsibility of doing household chores. She asks, “isn’t this harder than before?”

After getting married, women are more likely deprived from friends and social works. As this mother thinks the condition of women in the past was better than hers, she tries to question herself whether she is a servant of the family or if other women also do the things she does? She tries to think of the meaning of her education. She wonders whether this chain of responsibilities could be the barrier for women to pursue the future they desire. Or if women are really capable of managing so many things at once.

The story goes on to tell that the husband does not manage the family’s finances well. The wife is forced to shame herself and borrow money from friends when her daughter gets sick.

She thinks about the life she used to have when she didn’t have a family. She used to be carefree and could afford anything for herself.

. .

She also explains how she used to love her body and figure, but somehow had to give it up for her love for her daughter.

These thoughts keep running in her mind that she accidentally breaks the glass in the dinner table. Her husband hugs her and their daughter. It is then that she realises that she is fortunate to have a loving family. She tells her husband to not let her dwell on the missing parts, but rather focus on what she has at hand. She also asks her husband to also change his bad ways so they can live harmoniously.

There are other eight stories focusing on women in this book. If you’re curious about the other stories or if any of the stories reflect your experiences as well, grab a copy now.

Author: Prum Kunthearo
Publication: 2018

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