These very Cambodian patterns of countryside life, of gardens and rice fields, of different kinds of houses and palm trees, are ordinary to me. It is the way of life I love.
I sometimes have surreal experiences. Like when the rice is ready to be cut, the light of the falling sun connects magically with the colour of the rice, whose hue becomes stronger. This intense moment builds until I feel like I am looking at gold coming from the ground. The flowers of the surrounding small grasses become more alluring, prettier than ever, and while I stand there I am transported, as the purple and its bouquet mistily cloak my body. I feel like the world is only me as the sky darkens and I transcend myself. Watching, I see a plane going to Phnom Penh across the north of my province. This sound takes me to the time of the bombers, and I am there.
Once a year we harvest and store rice in silos under the ground; these places were destroyed in the bombing campaigns. One day the people of my village were making a ceremony at the pagoda. A bomb fell from the plane at lunchtime onto the middle of the building, killing one monk.
The shadow of the bomber still hangs over all of countryside life, 40 years on. This shadow is not a cool refuge.