As a service to our readers, Khmer Times is pleased to publish the full version of Ek Tha’s latest book Long Love, Short Life. The book is published in sections every Friday. Below is the eighth portion of the series. Last week, Dara’s secret enterprise was revealed and another obstacle threatened his love for Duongchan. This week, the lovers hatch a plan for their future.
Check out the seventh portion here: https://www.khmertimeskh.com/50794692/navigating-across-a-sea-of-love-part-vii/
Life moved on. The political situation changed all over the world. The Berlin Wall, which had divided the Communists of East Germany from democratic West Germany, collapsed in November 1989. Dara learned the breaking news quite fast through the Phnom Penh radio.
He told Duongchan, “The Communist camp is about to collapse, so it is time for us to study English now and put the Communist languages like Russian and Vietnamese aside.”
Duongchan did not believe him. She said, “Let us wait and see if this is the case though the prospects look good. I do not see anyone speaking English in this district, given that the Khmer Rouge killed all the intellectuals.”
“Well, I have heard a Cambodian old man named ‘Mr Hawk’, who lost his left leg fighting with American soldiers during the Vietnam War and he speaks English well.”
“You are quite wrong, Dara,” she said.
“What? How come?” Dara asked.
“I mean you do not speak English, so how do you know he speaks English well?” she asked.
Dara giggled and replied, “You are right. But I am afraid the school and the authority will accuse us of committing another crime by learning English as they believe that almost all Cambodians who speak the language work for the CIA.”
“I am not afraid and I will go for it. I will fight back again if the authority gives us trouble for studying English. But first of all, I need to find Mr Hawk and make sure that his English is good and that he is healthy enough to teach us. I do not want him to drop dead in front of the whiteboard,” he said.
Duongchan laughed and said, “Wait a minute, what? I heard you said you need to check it out if his English is great, but you don’t speak the language at all.”
“You are right again, my mistake. I mean if he is willing to teach us,” Dara said.
The dream of Duongchan and Dara came true. They paid Mr Hawk to teach them privately at his house at the foot of the mountain about 2 km from their school.
Dara and Duongchan learned a great deal from Mr Hawk before he passed away three years later. They both went to his funeral and buried him under the palm tree where he had loved sitting and watching the sun set.
On the first anniversary of Mr Hawk’s passing, Duongchan and Dara sat and sadly looked at his picture hanging on the wall of his wife’s home.
Dara said, “My favourite memory of him was when he told me to always fight for fairness. What about you, Duongchan?”
“I most remember when he said that ‘When we fall in love, everything is sweet, but when the poor comes the love flies away… and the world keeps changing,’” said Duongchan.
The views and expressions in the said novel Long Love, Short Life are entirely a work of fiction, and it is the personal work of the author.