No words

By Colin Tom
After finishing a tour, our guide directed the tuk tuk driver to pull over at a roadside resturaunt.  Conversation during the meal was light while we compared American celebrities, emphasizing why our guide might be more interested in Jennifer Anniston than Angelina Jolie.  After a more thorough inqusition,  he admitted his preferrence for Anniston’s wholesome looks over Jolie’s lush facial features.  We laughed.
Following the laughter, our guide informed us that his name had previously been the Khymer word for Catfish.  Although he changed it to lucky later in his early adulthood, he explained that ugly names were given to people in rural villages to ward off evil spirits that might wish to steal them.  His eyes glowed while he told us that his good friends were named nail, cucumber, and pickle, soaking in our ammused reactions.
After the chuckles subsided, our guide looked down at the table.  His demeanor became more sullen.
“Cambodia needs help,” he said.  The tone of the conversation had changed.
“The Government is corrupt.  The poor are getting poorer and the rich are getting richer, and there’s nothing we can do about it.  It’s no good here.”
We tried to offer solace.
“Don’t you think it’ll get better? It has to,”  I tentatively asked.He shook his head with concern in his eyes.
“I don’t know how.  We need help…maybe America…” his voice trailed off.
I wanted to give him a solution but I wasn’t able to muster the right words.I looked out the window and watched the children bathing in the river across the street.  As much as I loved every minute of my trip, I knew i would be back in the luxury of my fully paid college lifestyle in less than three weeks.
It was just one of the many penetrating moments of dismal reality for which nobody had anything to say.

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