At the center of development is hell.
I am not referring to poverty, drug addiction or alcohol abuse.
I am referring to S21 in the center of Cambodia’s capital.
Originally full of laughter and life, a school held students eager to learn.
Then full of screams of pain, a torture camp held those deemed enemies of Angkar eager to leave.
How could children younger than my sisters be enemies. They were just children. A child’s parents were merely suspected, with no trail of being traitors. When weeding a garden, you pull out the leaves and the roots. These roots were displayed to me in black and white photos taking up multiple walls in multiple rooms.
On different walls in some of the same rooms were photos of these children and their families’ abusers. Those inflicting the torture were my age and older. In a kill or be killed situation I see these photos as images of victims too.
I want to see a black and white version of what is good and evil but these black and white photos make this impossible for me.
These children, teens, and adults had families. They themselves were brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, sons and daughters. Everyone lost someone. Holding my family so dear in my heart all I could think of was seeing my sisters’, mother’s, or father’s black and white print on these walls knowing only a sliver of the trauma they went through.
I will forever remember those black and white images and the affect that had on me.