“A day will come when we will chase a dog because he has a grain of rice stuck on his tail.”
This may have a strange sound to it, but this was a prophecy which Noit’s grandmother had in her heart many years before war broke out in Cambodia. This being so, whenever she made food for her children and grand children she insisted they eat every last grain of rice. They needed to be ready for one day when there would be starvation.
That day did come. April 17, 1975 the Maoist Khmer Rouge took over Phnom Penh sealing their control over the entire land of Cambodia. Their retribution would be swift and severe. All city people were to be used as insurgents of the re-development of Cambodia. Their lives were of no value to the Khmer Rouge except for the building of water canals and planting rice. Because they had no value, the Ongka (Khmer Rouge) would waste no bullets on their execution, nor any food on their survival.
After working from 4 am until nightfall they were given one cup of rice between as many as fifty people. Literally each person only got 2 or 3 gains of rice as their daily food. The only way they got more rice was when the members of the group died from starvation and exhaustion. Even with twenty members no one got more than a spoonful of rice per day.
In early 1976 when Noit’s grandmother saw the situation she knew that the prophecy she had ringing in her heart for so many years would come true. She decided to not eat and just die as quickly as possible. Starvation is a horrible way to die. Soon, her legs were so swollen she could no longer walk. At night the pain caused her to scream. The screams echoed across the village and pierced the ears of her granddaughter Noit. Noit could barely stand to hear the pain of her beloved grandmother. She would try rubbing her grandmother’s legs and comforting her anyway she could, including saving a few grains of rice from her portion; however, her grandmother refused to eat. One night the screaming was intense and she could hear the piercing sounds call out, “I am hungry, I need rice.” Then late that night the screams went silent. Her beloved grandmother was gone. Noit’s little body could not even make tears. In the morning her and her brother tried to dig a hole to buy her grandmother. They were unable to dig the hole very deep, but she was covered by dirt. One by one over the next four years her brother, other siblings, aunts and uncles and cousins would died of starvation and exhaustion and their bodies would be unceremoniously scattered among the bushes were wild dogs and vultures would rip them apart.
Somehow, God preserved the life of this little girl on just a spoonful of rice a day for nearly four years. A grand child who would never get to hug her mother, father or siblings again, much less taste the wonderful food of her grandmother. To this day she will never leave a grain of rice on her plate.