Memories of My Mother and Life in Cambodia
by Sokha Mob
My name is Sokha Mob and I come from Cambodia. I remember that my mother
liked to go to shopping, especially when there was a sale. She liked to
buy children's books and other educational things.
In the summertime, my family would go together to the park. During our
visits to the park, my mother liked to play badminton with her friends.
In Cambodia, badminton is called reket and people play the game
without a net. Our rules are also a little bit different from the rules
that are used in the United States: two people bat the birdie back and
forth with their racquets until one player loses when it falls to the
ground. After one player loses, they start all over again with another
In the springtime, my mother used to plant many different kinds of vegetables
in her garden, such as: cucumbers, eggplants, pumpkins, tomatoes, and
watermelons. She was always so happy to see how well all her vegetables
grew. We didn't have just one garden--we had two! The first garden was
our personal garden. It was located in the backyard, near the house so
that my mother could step right outside the back door and pick fresh vegetables
to cook for us. The second garden was much larger and was located in a
field that was further away from the house. Sometimes people would come
directly to her large garden to buy fresh vegetables that we had just
picked. Other times we would pick the vegetables, load them into a cart,
and take them into town to sell at the market. I really enjoyed helping
my mother pick vegetables, because I would usually get to eat some of
them, standing right there in the field. I remember paying attention to
when my mother might be going out into the field and asking her, "Can
I go with you tomorrow to help you pick vegetables?"
Before going with
my mother into the field, I would put on a hat that tied under my chin
with a scarf. In Cambodia, this kind of hat is called a mouk and
the scarf is called a kan saeng (also sometimes called a kromah).
I also would take a small piece of cloth and pour some salt into it. I
would take this packet of salt and tie my scarf in such a way that there
was a little pouch on the end. In this way, I was able to carry my salt
in my scarf.
In Cambodia, we know how to tie our scarves in may useful ways and each
way has a name. When we tie our scarves so that they can hold things,
it is called jong tonok.
When we were in the field, I
sometimes would pick a cucumber right from the ground and rub off the
outside dirt with my kan saeng. Then I'd break the cucumber open, pour
a bit of salt on it, and eat it, right there in the field! Other times
I would go from watermelon to watermelon, thumping each piece of fruit
until I found one that sounded like it would taste really good. Then I'd
pick that watermelon and break it open on the trunk of a tree, breaking
it open and digging into the ripe red fruit--eating it with only my hands.
I never even brought a knife with me, I'd just break the vegetables open
with my bare hands, enjoying the sweet juices as they dripped down to
my elbows. I'd usually pick an extra cucumber before leaving the field
so that I could take it home with me in my kan saeng. I loved helping
my mother pick vegetables.
Once we picked the ripe vegetables, my mother would take them to the
market in a cart that was pulled by cows. My sister and I usually came
along with her to the market. She earned a lot of money from selling vegetables
every year to feed my family.
by Sokha Mob
I made a list of all of my possessions, but there is one in particular
that is very dear to me. There are others that may be more expensive,
but my necklace is the most valuable thing that I own because it represents
my family and my heritage.
My necklace is a Buddha sculpture pendant that my mother gave to me on
my wedding day. This is my most cherished and valued gift and I will tell
you why it is so special.
After my grandmother died, my mother saved one of my grandmother's teeth
for seven years. We believe that it is good to keep the teeth of our ancestors.
My mother wanted to give the tooth to me, but first she took it to a craftsman
in our town of Tani. The artist's name was Mr. Hang and he was very old.
In our country, we have a tradition of carving ivory, the tusks of elephants.
Mr. Hang was a very knowledgeable and gifted ivory carver. There were
not many people in our area who knew how to carve things as well as Mr.
Hang. My mother thought that if he knew how to carve tusks, he would also
be able to make a beautiful carving out of my grandmother's tooth. She
asked Mr. Hang to make a Buddha pendant out of the tooth, and even though
this was an unusual request, he said that he would do it.
My mother didn't tell me about
her surprise, she kept it a secret until my wedding day. On that important
day, she gave me my necklace and she also gave a second pendant to my
husband. My husband's necklace had a pendant that was made out of my grandfather's
tooth. But my special necklace was different from my husband's necklace,
because only mine was carved into the shape of the Buddha. She told me
that my necklace was special because she loved me very much. She said
that she loved her parents and she would like us to keep them with us.
She thought that if we wore our necklaces my ancestors would always live
with us. It means so much to me to know that every time we go to the temple
to pray to God, we also have our grandparents with us.
I love my necklace very much. I wear it all the time because whenever
I miss my mother and my country, I look at my pendant and it makes me
My Dreams for the Future
by Sokha Mob
Right now I live in Arlington with my husband and I don't know how to
take care of myself very well yet. My husband takes care of me at the
present time, but in the future I want to take care of myself.
After I learn English well I want to learn how to use computers and then
learn how to cut hair because I want to get a good job as a haircutter.
If I have money I want to sponsor my mom to come live with me.
I also hope I will have two children, one boy and one girl. I hope to
be a good mother. I will teach them to be good children.
Finally, when I get old and retire, I want to volunteer to help old people
in a nursing home. When my children are 18 or 20 years old and know how
to take care of themselves, I will go back to my country.
Last Updated By Gail Matthews-DeNatale: 10/08/96