Thursday, August 19, 2010
7-day remembrance ceremony is very important for Buddhists, and whilst the body of Rumnea's father, Heng Sophal, was buried at a pagoda a few kilometres away, everyone gathered at the the family home today to say prayers with the monks and of course, eat. Rumnea and her mother, brothers and sisters were all in white, the two sons had shaved their heads and mourners from the pagoda, near and far neighbours and in excess of 100 people joined in to remember a man held in very high esteem by everyone that knew him. It was wonderful to hear how loved he was by all. But of course, incredibly sad that the family have lost their most important member. This was the first 7-day ceremony I have attended and sitting in front of the monks during their chanting was a painful experience on my legs, but one which I am so glad to have taken part in. Joining me was Kunthea, the daughter of my best pal Sokhom, and who will soon come to Phnom Penh to begin her university studies. She acted as my translator. After mid-day, Kunthea and I left Rumnea's home to head into Kompong Thom town. We visited her mother's market stall, the family's new home, her father's homemade advertising sign and then ended my very brief stay in Kompong Thom by popping into see Chhunly, another friend of mine, who has just taken up a teaching job at the American VIP school in the town. Seeing her teaching the youngsters made me feel very proud of my young friend. Three hours on the Mekong Express bus delivered me back in time for my rendezvous at Monument Books.
Author John Burgess scratches his head (right) during the book launch of Stories In Stone at Monument Books tonight