Letters of Life

Pensive in Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh, Cambodia — A varied day. We visited the genocide museum, Tuol Sleng, in the morning, and met one of the two remaining survivors of Pol Pot’s violent regime.

To understand a country that is *still* recovering from the ravages of war, one must try to grasp what its people went through in recent memory. In understanding its pain, we then find it not difficult to develop a deep affection for the land and its people.

I felt this way 18 years ago and I realize I feel the same way about this dusty, changeable city today. Phnom Penh is not a lovable city at first sight, but when you get to know some of its people, you are charmed by the city’s grace and secretly impressed by the stoicism of its people.

Phnom Penh is, to me, a lot like the friend you befriended in adolescence, the one fairly well-acquainted with but whom you forgot as soon as the interesting and glamourous bits of Life happened and swept you on your own trajectory of personal milestones and regrets.

Then you meet again, intermittently, and over the years. And you realize that this is one friend you might forget amid the quotidian rhythms of life, one you ignore for all the best reasons in the world, but one you finally realize you have not never really stopped loving.

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