My soul will continue to traverse this earth until the day that I die. Never to be a part of the people that I wander amid, always to live at the edge, with the eyes of an outsider, forever trying to understand those which I will never be counted amongst. I am neither shepherd nor sheep, but cattle-hound, forever keeping watch over the flock; forever trying to keep at bay the darkness.
Over the last few days I have seen sights that should make the heart of man swell with joy and sorrow, but instead I take all in with a continence that does not waver, my blessing and my curse. In Phnom Penh I saw a prison where lives were devoured to feed a fantasy of a world that never could be. Tuol Sleng, S-21, Pol Pot’s hell where the disappeared vanished into a bureaucracy of photos marked deceased. Then there were the Killing Fields. A pagoda towers high about a swath of idyllic green. The flowers are in bloom and off in the distance the villagers are planting in the rice paddies, water to the knees, their supplies in the canoe next to them. But where you stand the air is crowded with memories that want to be forgotten. In the pagoda is a case 18 stories tall, each level stacked high with skulls. Beneath your feet as you walk bones are rising from the soil and scraps of clothes grow up like grass fertilized by the deceased. A tree shades the earth but its branches offer no solace, for it was against its bark that the babies were crashed, their short lives not being worth the cost of the bullet.
That night we took our bus to Saigon. We were three hours out of Phnom Penh when we felt a small thud and saw something flash by in the window. A man on his bike had swerved too far into the road and was struck by a bus that would not have been there but for the tourists it carried. By the time we disembarked the man, his skull split open, had been lifted onto the back of a scooter and taken away. The few Cambodians on the bus were smarter than us, because as soon as it happened they had taken their luggage and flagged down whatever vehicle passed them by. While we sat on the side of the road with the police for the next three hours, watching the villagers watch us, two worlds brought together for a brief space of time and then parting ways without farewells.