February 28, 2020
We left Kep early in the morning for Takeo and the village of Sok San.
Sok San is a centre for the disabled.
Just like elsewhere the welcome was very warm.
I noted that the centre was pleasant, open, equipped with balneotherapy facilities (a true luxury) and a physiotherapy area. There were real medical files.
The first child, brought to me in his mother’s arms, was Sreypech , a boy of seven and a half .
“He fell out of his bed when he was 2 and he’s been like this ever since,” said his mother, resigned and affectionately to Danith our guardian angel interpreter.
In fact, Sreypech has very serious neurological after-effects from his head trauma with possibly a cerebral haemorrhage that has left irreparable motor, cognitive and psycho-behavioural impairments.
He is totally dependent.
He is very agitated, huddled in his mother’s arms, often with incoherent movements. His mother says he never rests.
He looks at me with empty, indifferent eyes, that never stay fixed.
I try to speak to him, but Nothing.
I delicately place my hands on his shoulders, and he pushes them off.
His mother tells him off.
I reassure her.
Now I take his hands, which he tries to remove, but I insist gently.
A long moment of silence while our hands talk. Very gradually, his hands let themselves commune with mine, his disarticulated arms slacken, his eyes turn towards me.
And finally, you look at me.
My hands surround your head, resting on your mother’s shoulder, seeking out your forehead, your temples, the back of your neck.
And miraculously, you change arms.
My hands are still glued to your head, listening and still talking to you.
“Sreypech come, get up, I’ll hold you, walk, I’ll take you to this place, the place you have chosen, where we’re going to plant a big tree. There, exactly there, where you’ve never been.
With you I dig into the earth, you throw the seed that will take root. This tree will grow one day, very high up in the sky, where I might be already.
But you, you will then be able to enjoy its protective shadow, close to your loved ones, on your land.
You, too, are growing a big tree in me, and when I get back home I will find refuge there when I am surrounded by adversity.
My hands keep working and soothe you.
You fall asleep.
Mummy’s right next to you.