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Ghouls, Ghosts, and Other Infernal Creatures

Ghouls, Ghosts, and Other Infernal Creatures 16-1 Cambodia Muse 4/13/04 2:55 PM Page 60 CHUTH KHAY One During 1945 and 1946, a cholera epidemic struck my village on the island of Koh Somrong, which is part of the province of Kompong Cham. There was panic, general upheaval. At night, the villagers lit fires near their huts to ward off the dead who were coming back to take lives. These dead feared fire. That’s what we as Khmers believed. As soon as the sun set, no one dared to make a noise. We were all barricaded in our homes, care- ful to turn off all lights and extinguish any indication of our presence. In the beginning, a gong was struck with each new death, and people trembled like frightened little animals, especially when this happened at night. Dogs barked and moaned without stopping. So many people died that we stopped striking the gong. Everyone kept silent. Everything was still. Some wrapped their dead in mats or towels and carried them into the forest to be buried. When a family was in mourning, people no longer came to visit, fearful of the corpse and contagion. At night, you could hear strange whisperings all along the route. “Let’s http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Manoa University of Hawai'I Press

Ghouls, Ghosts, and Other Infernal Creatures

Manoa , Volume 16 (1) – Apr 30, 2004

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Publisher
University of Hawai'I Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2004 University of Hawai'i Press.
ISSN
1527-943x

Abstract

16-1 Cambodia Muse 4/13/04 2:55 PM Page 60 CHUTH KHAY One During 1945 and 1946, a cholera epidemic struck my village on the island of Koh Somrong, which is part of the province of Kompong Cham. There was panic, general upheaval. At night, the villagers lit fires near their huts to ward off the dead who were coming back to take lives. These dead feared fire. That’s what we as Khmers believed. As soon as the sun set, no one dared to make a noise. We were all barricaded in our homes, care- ful to turn off all lights and extinguish any indication of our presence. In the beginning, a gong was struck with each new death, and people trembled like frightened little animals, especially when this happened at night. Dogs barked and moaned without stopping. So many people died that we stopped striking the gong. Everyone kept silent. Everything was still. Some wrapped their dead in mats or towels and carried them into the forest to be buried. When a family was in mourning, people no longer came to visit, fearful of the corpse and contagion. At night, you could hear strange whisperings all along the route. “Let’s

Journal

ManoaUniversity of Hawai'I Press

Published: Apr 30, 2004

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