Khmer Rouge Essays

Submitted By morganjohn
Words: 871
Pages: 4

During the 1970’s three million Cambodians suffered and died at the hands of the Khmer Rouge. Two survivors shared their experiences in the memoirs, Crossing Three Wildernesses and When Broken Glass Floats, both U Sam Oeur and Chanrithy Him suffered greatly under the control of the Khmer Rouge. Their family members were murdered, communities wiped out, and threats ruled daily life. One of many control tactics used by the Khmer Rouge was starvation, which both U Sam and Chanrithy encountered in different ways.
In Him’s case, her mother, Mak, died of starvation. By the end of her life, her strength and body were fragile, while her eyelids were swollen and her hair was tough like wire. Him relied merely on the clothing that draped over her skin and bones to recognize her. Her mother, Mak, went without water for four days until she became unable to walk. The last time Him saw her mother, her mother looked into Him’s eyes and said, “Many times I wished that one of you were here, just to get me water. That’s all I’ve wished (196).” Soon after, her mother died. Him discovered her mother had been thrown into a well with many other people who were considered as useless. Although her mother was still alive when she was thrown into the well, she died shortly after, skeletal and alone.

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Although U Sam’s son and wife were very hungry at times, unlike Chanrithy, he had many jobs that helped him supply food for his family. Oeur was given the position to plow paddy fields which gave him more time for other activities like fishing, catching frogs, crabs and foraging for grass and leaves for food. Oeur’s main duty for himself was to provide for his family. He not only gave the fish he caught to his family, but also to the base people. One day he saw his son in a mess hall, crying. Many children had been through the line to receive food multiple times, but his son had not one ladle. Oeur thought if he were to speak up, it would only make matters worse. He felt helpless to know his son was going to the cabin with an empty stomach, while he had been eating corn all day. He made sure to sneak food to his son the next day.
Hunger forced both U Sam and Chanrithy to take incredible risks to find food. While Chanrithy was in a labor camp her friend, Ra, spoke of a warehouse where they could get food. In the midst of desperation for food, Chanrithy and Ra made a daring decision to take the feared journey. Chanrithy imagined her trip to the warehouse. “My stomach growls and my mouth waters as I inhale the brown-burned smell of rice crust. Piece by piece, I eat it, savoring the chewy coffee-like flavor. With each bite, hope. I look forward to tomorrow…..something I haven’t felt in a long time (204).” In order to get to the warehouse they were to cross a river with high tides and currents. They had two choices when faced with crossing the river, get caught and starved by the Khmer Rouge, or move forward and possibly be captured. Despite the inability to swim, the hunger they endured served as a motivator. They felt as if they were invincible and struggled…