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 tenth portion of the series. Last week, Dara began basic military training. This week, Dara’s trainer is amused to find he has a girlfriend.
Check out the eighth portion here: https://www.khmertimeskh.com/50797338/the-world-and-love-keeps-changing-part-viii/
Dara and his three friends ran from the lines to get the tables. Dara’s idea had impressed the trainers. He and his friends placed the tables and then Dara helped the trainer to get up on it. It worked so well. All the students clapped and the trainer was happy too, as he now stood high as if he was sitting on the back of the elephant. The trainer walked back and forth on the tables, making the legs of the table push gradually into the ground which was muddy from the previous night’s rain and he began to lose his balance. As he was about to fall off the table he shouted through the megaphone, “What the fuck is with these table legs shaking?”
Dara was shocked and stunned. He called on his friends to support the table legs and they ran over but it was too late. Before Dara reached the tables, the trainer fell on the ground and was in great pain. The AK rifle and the trainer were trapped under the tables with the megaphone lying on top of the trainer’s chest.
Dara and friends moved the table that sat on the trainer’s legs. Dara then grasped the megaphone and said: “On behalf of the students, we are very sorry what happened to our trainer and hope he recovers very soon.”
The trainer got up and said to Dara, “Hey kid, stop talking nonsense. Your statement doesn’t stop my pain. It just embarrassed me when you spoke on the loudspeaker like that. What an idiot.”
“Sorry. Can I bring you to the hospital?” Dara asked.
The trainer tried to get up and said slowly, “Do not send me to the hospital. The hospital has run out of medicines, except medicine for malaria treatment. Do not send me to the hospital and do not tell my wife about my problem. The communists will not cover my medical bill. The government has no money since the communist camp, led by Moscow, has been in deep shit and maybe heading for collapse. Did you not know that?”
“So, what we can we do for you, sir?” Dara asked gently.
“I need to drink palm juice. I hope this helps me feel better instead of sending me to the hospital. There is no palm juice available at the hospital anyway.” The trainer said. He was a poor soldier, the only breadwinner for 12 children, including the kids from his second wife and his own.
“Do you have some money that we can go and drink palm juice together,” said the military trainer, adding, “You can see that one-legged-man climbs the palm tree to bring palm juice from the tree.”
“No problem sir. I can buy all the palm juice that is hanging from the trees. Just wait here for five minutes and I will go and get money from my girlfriend. Ok?”
“What? You have a girlfriend?” The trainer laughed.
“Why are you laughing? Is it funny?” Dara asked.
The trainer replied, “No, it is not. But you could be in trouble if the schoolmaster finds out you have a girlfriend. I admire you for such bravery and courage in having a girlfriend. I wish I had another wife but the burden on my shoulders is already too heavy.”
“We have a different story. You have had more than one wife but I only have one girlfriend. This is the second anniversary of us falling in love. The school teachers found out about our relationship. They gave me a lot of trouble but our love continued to grow even more than before.” Dara replied. “Sir, you stay here and I will be back shortly. OK?”
There were more than 10 palm trees growing among the mangoes and other trees near the football field. There were two farmers who harvested the trees by twisting the palm flowers with bamboo sticks. The farmers cut the top end of the flowers and placed bottles made of bamboo below to catch the juice dripping from the flowers.
Dara felt more at ease once he saw that the trainer was ok. He had forgotten to switch the megaphone off while he talked to the trainer, meaning their conversation was heard by the entire crowd. Some students laughed, others were speechless as they walked to class.
The trainer grabbed the megaphone from Dara and announced to the crowd, “You are dismissed. We finish training for today but please come back tomorrow.”
“By the way, what’s your name, kid? Just in case I need to look for you or call your name over the megaphone to come fast because I really want to drink some juice,” said the trainer.
“My name is Dara, and you?” He replied.
“I cannot tell you my real name. This is one of the regulations for trainers like me. You can call me Mr. 7th January. This is my code name as a military trainer in our district. Everyone knows me at the military base near the mountain.
“Mr. 7th January? Sounds great. I will be back in a minute,” he said.
Dara walked quite fast heading towards class and also looking for his girlfriend. Dara called her name and then asked his classmates, “Has anyone seen 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.