Yoeun Rothany lived in Kampong Speu province and came to Phnom Penh to study medical sciences.
Sports shoes: When my husband and I knew each other for the first time, we rode a bike together. When he saw me wear simple shoes, he said that they were not safe and my feet would be injured if our bike ran into an accident. Then, he asked me if I had a pair of sports shoes. I told him that it was not my habit to wear that type of shoes. He said that he would accompany me to Sorya market. He saw sports shoes and asked me to try them. I didn’t want to buy them as I thought that they were expensive. On the other hand, as we’d just known each other, I didn’t want him to spend money for me. But he said that when we bought a pair of shoes of 30 US$ once, we always thought that they were expensive. However, we could use them longer than the second-hand shoes. So he bought them for me. On September 12, there was a bike race in Siem Reap. I wore these shoes in that event. When I was pregnant, I put them aside. Now I want to exchange them for another thing and get a new model. But when I see them, I think about him because it was not easy to buy them and I’d never worn them before.
Pregnancy shirt: After my pregnancy, I went to my native district in Kampong Speu province for Pchum Ben ceremony. I bought some things and a nice dress which I would wear to go to pagoda. But I bought a pregnancy shirt because it was beautiful and I needed it. When I came back home, I wore it and looked very beautiful. It made me very happy. Wherever I went, everyone said that the shirt was nice. Most of pregnant women are easy to get angry. When people praise them, they are happy so that the baby will also feel good. This shirt is more important than the simple dresses. It looks simple, lovely and nice. Now I’ve already delivered the baby. I don’t know when I will be wearing this shirt again. If any pregnant woman wants it, she can take it to wear, and look happy as when I was pregnant. I will also exchange it for another thing like the above shoes.
Koam Chanreaksmey, 22 years old, documentary film producer, and is Marketing Manager of Color Printing House. He lives in Takhmao district, Phnom Penh.
Small hand bag: This hand bag looks a little bit old. I remember my mother gave it to me about 6 or 7 years ago. I liked it very much. I always brought it with me. Sometimes I put some money in it. Mostly, I put in it only postcards and all things that I thought important. When I wanted to find them, I always checked it, for example, Western Union slips. And it was the first time I used Western Union service and Cultural Village ticket…. I kept these things in this bag. They are souvenirs. I think that this bag is very important to me. Now it is a little bit old. I’ve just stopped using it. Nowadays, there are many new product models. I’m very busy in my work. So I don’t care about it, but I’ve never taken out the things in it.
Pepper/salt bottle with the carving of a couple embracing each other: This can be found in the market. Apparently, its model is simple, but for me, it has an essential meaning. When I saw it for the first time, I loved it and bought it from an ethnic minority village in Chheang Mai, Thailand. There were a lot of things for sale there. But I was interested in this lovely bottle when I saw the carving of a couple embracing each other. At that moment, I thought about a woman who I loved (I thought, “If I could embrace forever the woman who I loved, how good would it be?!”) I wrote her name and put it in this bottle, which means that our love wouldn’t change forever. Normally, I put it on my desk so that I could see it every day. But now, as we are no longer in relationship, I put it aside.
Shoulder bag: One of my colleagues bought it from Laos and gave it to me because he knows that I like cultural objects. At that time, I carried it every day for around 4-5 years. Some people always mocked me by saying “Love flute under the oblique palm tree”. Now I am older and have been by foreign culture. In addition, the country also develops. So I also update myself with new styles. But this bag is in my heart forever. 4-5 years ago, there weren’t a lot people who used the hand-knit bags. I used it for 2 years. There have been a few pen dirts on it. But I’ve kept it until now.
Flag: I think that, born in a country, we must have our own nation and religion, so that we can understand the respect. As we are youths, wherever we go, we must not forget our nation and religion. Nowadays, although foreign languages flow into the country, we must not forget our native language. Otherwise, it would be dangerous for the next generations. So nation and religion are very important for me, such as Buddhism in which my parents believe. The respect and gratitude emerge from my heart. Before, I put the flag on my table in my room. Now I put it aside in a bag after my family moved to Takhmao. It is a memorable souvenir. I will feel very regretful if I lose it. But If I can exchange it for something else with someone, I think it is a share of its story and experiences with each other. In the exchange, I don’t focus on anything; the important thing is whether or not the other party’s object has a similar meaning with mine and interests me.
Kor Borin, born in 1974, 37 years old, exhibition or art or other culture-related show curator for French Cultural Center for 10 years.
Yoan (paper on which there are magical inscriptions): In Cambodia, all of us maybe know that the gratitude towards the good deeds of our parents is very important in our culture and tradition. It is said that anyone who don’t have gratitude towards his/her parents is like an beast. I have a wish that I love my mother, because, during the Khmer Rouge regime I lost most of my family’s members; more than 20 members of my family were killed. I lost my father, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts. In my family, my mother is like a god which is called “Mehba” (parents). The word “Meh” (leader, mother) is an important word such as MehToap (military leader), MehKrom (group leader), etc. This word is derived from “woman and mother”. One day, I learned about Yoan which is called a magical code. In the daily life, Cambodian people always have belief in many types of Yoan such as Yoan that helps to succeed in business, attract women, make power or protect against explosive objects and many other kinds of Yoan. In the society, there is another kind of Yoan which is called parental Yoan. In order to make this Yoan, we have to light incense, salute and ask a parent, while they are alive, for the printing of the palm of his or her hand or foot on a red cloth. These are the palm print of my mother’s hands and foots. When we ask him or her to do it, we have to invite monks to inscribe magical words so that he/she has good health, happiness…. This is a link between my mother and me. After the monks inscribed the magical words, I brought it to 7 pagodas to be blessed by monks. Or it would not be complete. This Yoan has been with me for so long. I always bring it with me. It is very meaningful. It reflects the Khmer society and religion. Having it means I am with my mother who is my protector. According to Khmer beliefs, when we are with our parents, their spirits follow and protect us. If I lost it while she was alive, I could make it again, but it would take a lot of time. It is a part of an organism, thought, life and respect towards parents. I can exchange it for another party’s object that has a similar story to mine.