I was climbing the stairs of a high school in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. No, I did not intend to repeat high school to recognize the petals and sepals of a flower better. The school wasn’t ordinary. The faces of the men and women that had been tortured and killed in its classrooms stared at us from behind the glass frames hung on the bloodstained walls. The rusted iron bars, withering waterboards, and used bloody clothes kept in those classrooms narrated a gruesome story of the ruthless Cambodian massacre, that happened not so long ago. The metal shackles with which people were tied to the waterboards and to the iron bars were still chained to them; I assume those metal chains couldn’t be used for anything else now.
Unwillingly, I vividly imagined the bodies possessing those faces and donning those gory clothes tied to the iron rods with the cold shackles. A guard came throughout the day to beat them and torture them with electric shocks as the helpless stifled on the floor. Or to cut them with knives and suffocate them with plastic bags. Blood oozed out of the wounds of the tortured but medicine was out of the question. Four small spoonfuls of rice porridge and watery soup of leaves were given to them twice a day.
My skin crawled. I shivered in the scorching month of June.