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Cambodia Summer Program.

Frozen in Time

I stood on the newly paved road,

With trees lined-up on both sides,

Arms reaching to the sky, twisting and turning.

They have been standing there for a long time.

They were there before everything,

Held strong against the test of time, remaining rooted deep in the soil despite the tragedies happening on that land.

A black bird dove into the far woods.

The silence was overwhelming.

A high school turned into a death camp.

The joyful laughs of teenagers turned into torturous cries.

S-21, the horror of Khmer Rouge,

Depicted one of the ugliest histories of the 20th century.

Among twenty thousand people that were sent there,

Only five survived.

As I walked through every well preserved room,

I saw bloodstains on the ceiling, rusty beds with iron shackles.

I could feel the souls of the twelve caskets waiting for their doom.

History was shown vividly in front of me:

Families falling apart,

Their dreams shattered,

Their fates destined.

In silence, their tears dropped.

I remember seeing that particular room.

Doors were locked so I could only peek in through the window.

It was a classroom just as it was 40 years ago,

But dust shrouded everything.

The dark trash bin was emptied,

The big fan sat at the corner, facing backward.

Rows of rows of wooden desks and chairs lined up neatly,

Waiting for that group of people who gathered there everyday, but who would also

Never be back again.

I’ve always believed that the songs that were sung,

The music that was played and the words that were spoken,

Would never be gone.

They were all preserved somewhere – like in that classroom, along with the desks and chairs and the fan and everything else.

Frozen in time,

Because memories,

Never die.