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Pivotal Moments

  • Written by El Dee
  • March 8th, 2010
  • 5 min read

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His Cambodian river village was a wonderful home. Vibol was a principled man who loved his wife and remained true to his religious beliefs. He was blessed with a gorgeous daughter. Jorani never left her father’s side once she learned to walk. She was his pride and joy, his biggest achievement. No father could love a daughter more, he felt. He worked the fields during the day and made haste to return home in the evenings.

He built a rope tree swing behind their small home. It faced the river. He would sit and watch as Jorani would play, and laugh. There was no sweeter sound than her happiness. This was his favorite time of day.

Peace, Gabriel watcheth over me (one path)

Jorani grew fast, and by 12 was a well-balanced and bright young lady. School was fun, and easy. She had many friends.

Vibol and his wife were needed in Phnom Pehn, they travelled there and stayed a week. They brought Jorani with them. She was elated to be in the big city, joining her parents on father’s “important business trip”. She was to return several years later.

Jorani’s performance in school was exceptional. She attended Build Bright University in Phnom Pehn and was awarded a doctorate degree in Law. At 27 years of age, she made a special trip home to the village.

Vibol stood at the door and marvelled at his wonderful daughter. She returned with her boyfriend of 3 years – also a Law graduate – and announced their engagement to her family. Vibol hugged both of them, and stood back to express his pride. A tear escaped the corner of his eye as he held them both in front of him. They were to travel abroad, with big careers ahead of them. Vibol knew he would die a happy man.

Vibol and his daughter sat in the old tree swing. Jorani smiled as she told her father that she would always be his little girl, and looked forward to the following May when he would walk her down the aisle on her wedding day.

Malevolence, I feel a Demon’s breath (second path)

Jorani grew fast, and by 12 was a well-balanced and bright young lady. School was fun, and easy. She had many friends.

Vibol and his wife were needed in Phnom Pehn, they travelled there and stayed a week. They asked Vibol’s uncle and aunt to stay at the village house, just for that week, to care for Jorani during this time. Upon their return, Vibol was thrilled to see his daughter. But her embrace was loose and cold, he wondered if she had fallen ill. He kept a close eye on her that night.

Next evening, screaming awoke Vibol; he raced to her room. She was sweating, crying for her father. A nightmare that seemed so real to her, he thought. He watched her fall asleep, waiting an hour and a half.

Months later, he still couldn’t make a connection. Why were her school grades falling sharply? Vibol was asked to retrieve her from school. She had been biting again, breaking the skin of her once closest friend. Biting, scratching, tearing hair from the scalp…. why? At first it was completely uncharacteristic behaviour. Now it is happening every week.

Jorani was barely 16 when she left home. The fights with her mother and father broke Vibol’s spirit, he could think of no plan to bring her back on course. Slapping her mother was the last time she touched either of them. She departed with a small bag and was seen on the back of a motorcycle destined for Phnom Pehn. Vibol was never the same man after that.

He sat on his tree swing. Five years later, and with another bottle of whiskey to comfort him, he poured his drink, neat, and kept it by his side. Jorani’s laughter was long gone; the muggy air and insect life accompanied him as he waited an hour, as he always did, for the sun to set before bringing the first glass to his lips.

His wife was long gone, they divorced 3 years back. It was shortly before the divorce when she had sold Jorani’s belongings, as well as her bed, for a small price. When she returned from making that very sale, the floorboards underneath the bed, now visible, contained a small hole near the wall. One board was loose and could be pulled upwards. Underneath she found two pairs of Jorani’s small underwear, with large dark stains. It is blood. Her mind raced. She screamed for Vibol, and when he entered the room his thoughts matched hers. The possibility was unbearable, utterly unbearable. He made excuses as his wife screeched in tears.

His wife had been grasping at straws for an answer, and finally made one giant leap. She connected Vibol’s relatives with what might have happened here. She took the bus to their home, a 7 hour bus drive. Their house was deteriorating, but she made her way inside. Vibol’s aunt stood in the kitchen corner, an unkept appearance; grey, dull eyes. Her husband wasn’t there. He passed away the previous year.

It took Vibol’s wife 4 months and her life savings to uncover the truth. It was finally revealed to her. She fainted when the news came that Vibol’s uncle had in fact died in prison and his convictions were for sex crimes against children.

In the village, Vibol sat motionless between drinks. The river was low this time of year, though he barely noticed anymore. That very day, an old friend told him of Jorani’s whereabouts, but he had already been aware that she worked on those streets of central Phnom Pehn. Her body heavily tattooed, a front tooth missing, her face aged beyond her years. Vibol swallowed another warm glass of liquor.

Two days later, Vibol was found unconscious by the old tree swing. He could see the fluorescent lights race by as he was wheeled through hospital corridors on the stretcher cart. He was conscious, only just. He heard the sounds of medical instruments, and sensed his body jolting. His eyes remained open. He could hear Jorani’s laughter, she was just 11, bringing him picked flowers, sitting next to him on the tree swing, smiling. One last tear escaped the corner of his eye, and as it met the pillow, he died.

Stickman's thoughts:

Creepy.