What Pegman Saw – The Shadow of History

“What Pegman saw” is a weekly challenge based on Google Streetview. Using the 360 degree view of the location provided, you must write a piece of flash fiction of no more than 150 words. You can read the rules here. You can find today’s location on this page,  from where you can also get the Inlinkz code.

WPS - Cambodia temple 170923

“When I first saw you, I thought you were the most beautiful girl in the world,” sighed Chanvatey.

Achariya giggled, and pushed herself up from him. Her face shone in the moonlight, and her eyes were bright

“And now?” she asked.

“Now I know you’re the most beautiful.”

“When I first smelled you, you were all sweaty in the bottom of the trench.” She tickled him.

“I’m an archaeologist! That’s what we do! That’s why we can come in here at night – ow, stop! Mercy!”

“I must tell my family about our engagement tomorrow.” Achariya stopped teasing, and looked serious. Chanvatey squeezed her hand. “It’ll be okay,” he said.

But it wasn’t.

“Son Chanvatey, you said?” Her father’s expression was dark. “Son is a bad name around here, bad blood. The killing fields…” He bit his lip.

“I forbid this marriage,” he declared. “You must never see this man again.”

In the 1970s, Cambodia was ruled by the Khmer Rouge, who tried to impose an egalitarian society based solely on agriculture. They killed about two million of their own citizens in a reign of terror. Intellectuals and professional people were particularly targeted. Even wearing spectacles could have you hauled off to prison, tortured and executed. The places where people were executed became known as the killing fields.

Son Sen was a leading member of the ruling party.

The country has set up structures in educational establishments to help bring about reconciliation.

48 thoughts on “What Pegman Saw – The Shadow of History

  1. A very convincing story Penny. Very well written and a surprising turn at the end. So much harmony and joy at the beginning and then the talk with the father. Still here, you are relaxed as a reader, because an discontent father is no obstacle for them to marry anyway.
    You have perfectly managed to come from a very personal, emotional beginning of history to a political background. The dimension of this background is becoming conscious. It was not clear to me when your story was playing. In the 70s or later. Is this still the “heritage” which destroys the happiness of the couple?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Anie,
      The story is in the present day. The father’s family – like almost all families in Cambodia in the 1970s – lost several members to political murder.
      I don’t think the couple will be able to marry, I’m afraid.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, I can imagine that. Once the hatred is so great and passed on to the next generations. It would be desirable to try to restore peace after such atrocities. Alone for the generations afterwards

        Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, very sad. And I can not really imagine that. I mean, here in Europe the war is not so long ago and I do not think, that there are many left, who have grief and hatred.
      I always think of my grandfather, who was in captivity, when my son plays the national anthem of festivals in the orchestra. It is not about which nationality the victims of crime and war have. All of them should be commemorated!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I remember hearing of the killing fields when I was a kid – unbelievable murder and torture, a true horror story in a beautiful country. For some reason it’s always more – slightly more – horrifying when you realise these crimes were committed by the government on their own people. Unimaginable.
    Your dialogue in the opening is very sweet and playful – your feel that excitement of young love coming through. Then the memories of those bad days resurface and we have our tragic ending.
    Beautifully done Penny

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dear Lynn
      Thank you so much for your encouraging words.
      I was distressed when I saw this week’s prompt, because there was no way I could write something that didn’t refer to the killing fields – and I really didn’t want to. I’ve tried to imply eventual hope. The youngsters weren’t aware of the hatred they were ‘supposed’ to feel. Although they will never marry, the hatred is weakening, and the next generation should be okay.
      With very best wishes

      Liked by 2 people

      • Ah, I was about 10 yrs or so then… probably the fartherest thing from my mind. At that time, I was out bef/aftr school working at whatever job I could find to pay rent and buy groceries. That said, it gives me a research project for the library this week, so it’s good! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I didnt know about this bit of history Penny – thanks for sharing. However, parental pressure on children to marry as per their wishes is an all too common and often tragic story in this part of the world. Yet things are changing. I have to confess I loved the first half of the story more than the latter half 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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