Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Man sometimes makes me sick.

Today was another one of those days. I clock in to work before ten, sit at my desk, wait for Windows to boot, go through all the social media sites I'm wired on and proceed to update my mood and empty my mind.

While waiting for the team to gather for our weekly work-in-progress meeting, I picked up GQ, August issue and thought I should finish the last remaining article of the magazine. Hi, my name is --- and I have an obsessive compulsive behavior. I read magazines from cover to cover. Yes, even the advertisements. What I didn't know was the intensity of what I'm about to read, doesn't just upset my stomach but my soul.

The title in all its simplicity was called 'Never Forget' written by Michael Paterniti (who had the golden privilege of going cross-country with Einsteins' brain in a tub once, which we will divulge another day, another time). What do you think of an article with such unassuming title would be about? And then *pow*, it hits you. Your eyes, brain, mind are drawn into the deep recesses of Paterniti's thoughts that the inner person in you twists and turns in disgusted objection to any further reading. Yet, the mystery of one of mankind's most unspeakable atrocities magnetizes your curiosity. It is no other than the Khmer Rouge regime.

The funny thing is, I was there before. In Tuol Sleng. Not the infamous Killing Fields. Don't know if I can stomach that but yea, Tuol Sleng. And it's as close as it can get to imagining what it must have been like to live in such a torturous and demented, time-stopping (albeit abbreviated) era. So when Paterniti started painting the picture of 1975, it doesn't just bring back memories. It brought me back to a confounded state that took me a good couple of days to get out, after the visit. So many researches have been conducted and reconducted to find out why the Nazis could do what they did. Or more accurately, the people employed by the Nazis could do what they did to millions of others. It was simply befuddling. And in the case of the Khmer Rouge, it's probably hard to conduct the same kind of research because close to two millions were wiped out clean in a span of a few years. You need numbers to quantify these researches.

They've caught the Master of Torturer, Duch (pronounced as doik). A Cambodian ex-mathematician teacher who spent time in jungle hide-outs devising new and creative ways to 'torture'. What. On. Earth. Created. Such. A. Monster. During the height of the despicable regime, Duch was put in charged of prisoner camp S-21 where he lived out his twisted imaginations on live experiments. The physicality of it: Removing nails and dousing wounds in alcohol, slicing bellies and putting scorpions in to roam, feeding prisoners with human excrement, performing cannibalism, the vile list is endless. And not forgetting the emotional side of it all where words like 'colour', 'happy', 'laugh' were banned. Erased eternally from the vocabulary of the populace as they knew it. The human race should be devoid of happiness. They should be walking zombies dressed in black pyjamas where a smile would be fatal. And above all these, if you could bear all of these, your steely soul is only given a point zero four percent of survival chance. What would you do?

Now, standing on the trial stand, a much 'so-called' remorse Duch admitted to his hideous crimes and asked for pardon. His 'so-called' conversion to Christianity was his first step to remorseful repentance (if he was, why was he hiding in a jungle till he was 'accidentally' discovered by a journalist?). And he's 'so-called' living a life of such burden that the only relief is death. And that he's 'so-called' challenging you to put yourself in his shoes. If the lives of your family is threatened, what would you do? I have my answers to the above. I have my point of view on the Christianity bit but I leave the final judgement to God. Have I no pity for this person? (Has he no pity for the victims?) If my family is threatened... That's the tricky part. I have no honest answers to that. I can only say that should I choose to do what he had chose to do, I would readily accept the consequences that come with it. And that will be no pardon. No physical freedom back to the human society and certainly no emotional forgiveness that could ever free the soul once again. What would you do?

I am left helpless after reading the article. It's stuff like that, that really punches your daily routine and creates a hole that tells you that you're incapable of doing anything. I've thought about it that's why I wanted to share it. Sparks is all about possibility, hope, dreams and change. Yet, today after some hard digestion of these sobering facts (yet, once again), Sparks is dimmed and reduced to faint ember.

Highly recommended this month is GQ and their take on violence.

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