I was away in Cambodia for six splendid days, with two extra days added to this day count for the time that was spent suspended between time zones up in the skies amongst the clouds, where I normally play at being "pretend god" for a while! With partner, a son, and a friend in tow the four of us stepped into this amazing cultural treat where hours melted away as we were transported back into the glories of the past, via the architectural feats of temple carvings that weave stories of Hindu and Buddhist mythology that leave you gasping in sheer amazement at the skill and technique and sophistication of their visual language. It in someways made the entire modernist period look like a poor second cousin!
As we climbed steep stone steps of temples and literally soaked in the sun that lives in the clearest of blue skies, we were surrounded by the sounds of hundreds of cicadas insects that filled the quiet spaces that surrounds these monuments with a magical music that sounds truly like a John Cage symphony! With lisping Cambodian children who hawk their trinkets with the charm of practised sentences that know how to tug at your heart strings, and women selling mysteries from their kitchens wrapped in banana leaves, you know for sure that the enchantress of adventures has cast her spell completely to entice you to be in love with everything.
.......And then you stand in the rooms of S-21 and hear the silent screams as you revisit the horrors of the Pol Pot regime and know that history isn't always the dream that was promised as the future. With agonising deliberation hundreds of photographs document the chilling tales of the demonistic delight of brutality that is in evidence till today in the maimed bodies and tortured minds that make up the living memories of this tragic past.
As I opened the book I had taken to read, "Evening the Whole Day" by Preeta Samarasan, I was confronted by the opening page that had this remarkably apt quote from Waterland by Graham Swift that reads:
History begins only at the point where things go wrong; history is born only with trouble, with perplexity, with regret. So that hard on the heels of the word Why comes the sly and wistful word If. If it had not been for....If only.....Were it not......Those useless Ifs of history. And, constantly impeding, deflecting, distracting the backward searchings of the question why, exists this other form of retrogression: If only we could have it back. A New Beginning. If only we could return.....