The Last Fire Cracker
I remember this last evening. The last fire cracker lit by these kids. I had brought my good friend and writer Gregory Rewega with me and it was quite a surreal setting. Tropical showers sweeping across the sky made people walk slowly, there wasn’t much going on around the place. Mostly kids were out and about. Playing. Lighting up fire crackers, almost as a counterweight to the otherwise slave like atmosphere surrounding the place, the Stung Menchey dump site, just outside of the Cambodian capitol, Phnom Penh.
I spent 3 months in and out of Stung Menchey. I lived there in the end, with a small family in their make shift hut made out of wooden planks and metal boards for a roof. And although they were alive, they weren’t living. I don’t think I slept a single night, most of us didn’t because the rats found their way into the hut, so someone always had to stay awake to kill them. We slept with a cloth around our face and although I couldn’t smell the ammonia after three days, I was breathing it. But only for that short time. The people I lived with were there before I came and after I left and although their two son’s, Sot and Dara, worked from the early morning to the late evening, they always found a moment to laugh.
And light up the last fire cracker of the day.