“My Life In A Hole”


Through Harold’s Lens:

Mom buried me alive!

“In 1976 I was 5”, Savon said.
“Daddy dead”
“Brother dead”
“Mommy horrified”
“Me terrified”.

Khmer Rouge
Killing fields
3,000,000 slaughtered!

Protection from murder.

Small village
Open field.

Dark deep hole.

Dirt hole
Five feet deep
Three feet square.

Thatched bamboo
Grass cover

My dark hole
Every morning.

Mom left me
In a hole
12 hours
Pure fright
Pure terror.

Mom in rice field
Not fresh green stems
Not prime first cut.

One kernel
One kernel
One kernel.

One white kernel
One white kernel in the dirt.

Rats snapping
Cobras slithering
Mom’s tiny toes
Under water.

One meal that day
One meal day after day
After day
After day.

Mom buried me alive!

Khmer Rouge
Killing fields
3,000,000 slaughtered!


26 responses

  1. Your post reminds me of the best selling book, “Killing Fields Living Fields” by Don Cormack. Surely this was the worst period of civil unrest in the whole history of mankind?


  2. Dear Harold:

    Thanks for the compelling picture and vignette. We hope you and Rita Joe have a HEALTHY, happy and prosperous New Year!

    Ron and Jo Ann Ginson


  3. Strong and powerful words Harold, such a sad history and lingering memories. It is amazing to see how strong & happy the Cambodian people are today…living a life without the fears the Khmer Rouge brought to their people, although such horrors never forgotten.


      • I honestly do not know how they do it (not sure if I would be that mentally tough), but perhaps it is just the glory of freedom and an opportunity at happiness that ignites their soul. Such a powerful experience, and you share it so well.


    • Thank you Tina. Yes, this actually did happen. When I met Savon, she was 37. She took me to her village. Showed me the open rice field where her black hole was. Back then she said the open field was full of land mines. It had land mines in it when I met Savon, and she would not take me out into it. Many Cambodian children and farmers are still losing their legs and life from exploding land mines. Here’s a bit of terrifying reading about those years in Cambodia: “The Pol Pot Regime”. Race, Power and Genocide in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, 1975-79 by Ben Kiernan.


  4. Riveting and horrifying and moving…I knew a woman who professional parents and siblings were all murdered. She survived–she never said how but was brought to OR by an aunt. She worked with at-risk youth alongside me for a couple of years before an arranged marriage she dreaded. Her story, face, name still stay with me vividly. She gave me a mug when she left of delicate flowers. Her name: Channay.


    • Thank you Cynthia. It was just as riveting, horrifying and moving to hear it in person from the mouth of Savon. Wow! I will never forget it. Just as your supporting experience with Channay changed you, my time with Savon changed me.


  5. The combination of youthful innocence and the silent plea in the eyes, makes this photograph an unforgettable image. Like your photograph, your words suggest more than they say, leaving the observer with many questions. What happened to the mother, or the snake? And then you have the juxtaposition of the meagre nourishment of the white kernels as opposed to the lurking danger by man and animal. Someone dressed that little girl that morning….did she do so again the next?
    One word: brilliant.


    • Thank you Amos. This photograph and story were a punch in the gut for me. Repositions my mind, attitude and much more. When Savon told me her story she was 37. I did not ask about her Mom, as I assumed her Mother was still living. Probably in her mid fifties when I was there. As for the Cobra snakes, there were many of them. They are still slithering around the rice fields looking for the rats. The farmers and pickers in the rice fields in Southeast Asian countries are very used to them. They all work out in the rice field barefooted. They capture them. I hefted bags of these live slippery snakes. They are heavy. I could pick out the one I wanted for dinner. They are a delicacy to dine on. The animal/human world must have food to survive. If it’s just a kernel of rice, that’s it. But then you think, where am I on the food chain. The strong gritty determination of this Mother to protect her young daughter. Savon said that her Mother dressed her and put her in the dark hole, every day for almost two years.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: