H.E. Dr. Khieu Kanharith, Minister of Information, on Wednesday received Ek Tha, author, of the novel Fight the Enemy, Find Love, which portrays how a young Vietnamese army volunteer, joins the fight in Cambodia to drive Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge from power in early 1979, and years later falls in love with a daughter of the notorious Khmer Rouge regime.
Ek Tha, was a refugee in Vietnam at the time of Pol Pot’s Democratic Kampuchea (DK) and learned from different sides of the conflict. Under that regime nearly two million Cambodians died from starvation, execution, diseases and forced labor.
“We can’t change the past but we can learn from it and not to repeat it,” Ek Tha told the Minister, who himself survived the bloody regime ruled this Southeast Asian nation from April 17, 1975 to January 7, 1979.
The author depicts the romance and passionate account of the knot of love tied by a young Vietnamese volunteer intelligence officer who gets lost in a deadly forest controlled by the Khmer Rouge near the land border with Thailand.
“I want to emphasise that there is no need to make war, but love. Weapons and violence will not bring peace. We need to help each other in times of hardship,” he says of the book.
At one point the girl told Hung, saying that: “Don’t talk too much for now… stay here… I will go home and come back with some more medicines to treat your illness… and if anyone sees you, tell them that you are my friend, Reach Bopha-Ek.”
“All the Khmer Rouge soldiers operate in this area under the command of my dad… so they will spare you, but you need to hide yourself…until I come back,” she told the Vietnamese army spy.
Bopha-Ek ran all the way along the path leading to her house, about 300 metres. About half an hour later she returned with some medicines her parents had bought from a Thai drugstore across the border just in case any of the family or Khmer Rouge soldiers got sick.
The next day Bopha-Ek also brought a pillow, blanket, mosquito net and some soap for Hung. He tried to get up, and gathered all his strength to give her a big smile, reads the book.
The book continues: “What a special day for me! For offering me these things, I cannot thank you enough, Bopha-Ek.”
“It’s okay, Hung… don’t mention it… I have no man to give them to anyway… I have no-one I like as much as you. I have no place to go, but your hut… and much more than that, my love for you is deeper than the ocean and larger than the galaxy.”
“Me, too, since the day I saw you bathing in the waterfall through my binoculars I forgot everything. My life was then transformed from being your foe to your friend in my mind… like the caterpillar transforms itself into a butterfly… I hid the grenades, I removed the bullets, I threw away the guns and placed them on your path…I told myself that there was no point in shooting you… there was no point in killing you, but there was a good point in making you a friend instead of a foe… and much more than that, I love you, I love you, I love you, Bopha-Ek… I… love you,” Hung kept repeating over and over again. She covered his mouth with her left hand and with her right arm she held him close to her breast, and then they both fell to making love on the rattan bed for the first time… banging and shaking the hut like an earthquake in the jungle of the Khmer Rouge, making a noise that frightened the birds so they flew away into the surrounding forest.
“Hold me close to your heart, Bopha-Ek… my life and love now rest in your hands and heart.”
The writer says that he hopes by writing in English to attract global readers rather than just writing the dry facts of history over and over.
“I do something different from others: I wrote a colourful and romantic novel… Already a foreign company is interested in making a movie out of this novel,” he said.
“I hope my English language fiction novel will reach a significant readership both nationally and internationally, especially young Cambodians who were born after the war and conflict had stopped,” he writes in the book.
“I would like to show to a global audience that despite the losses and tragedies experienced during this time of horror, there was also love and true friendships. I wish to see more foreigners hear, see and read good things about Cambodia rather than the limited perspective of the Killing Fields, the Mekong River, and Angkor,” he says.
His Excellency Dr. Khieu Kanharith supports the project and wants to distribute the book to Cambodia’s schools so that students can learn more about its past.
Ek Tha, who spent more than 16 years working as journalist, including his time with The Cambodia Daily, Reuters News Agency under name Ek Madra, is also the author of the non-fiction: The Factors Contributing to Cambodia’s Civil War 1950s to 1980s, Lessons Then & Now; the novels Fight the Enemy, Find Love; and Long Love, Short Life; and a fourth book, Memories of Politics, War, Love.
Sponsors for the book come from Cambodia, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, China, United Kingdom, as well as, Cambodia’s state-run news agency (AKP), Malaysia’s Khmer Times newspaper, Vietnam’s Metfone company, among others.
The author worked for the United Nations (United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia), which organised Cambodia’s first general election in 1993. He studied journalism at the University of Southern California (USA). He obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in public law and Master’s Degree in International Relations, and attended a number of courses in journalism and communication in the United Kingdom, Japan, Malaysia and Thailand.
(Ek Tha is a Standing-Vice Chairman of the Royal Government Spokesperson Unit, spokesman of the Council of Ministers, Advisor to the Ministry of Information)
Source: Agency Kampuchea Press