Never Forget the Elderly Neighbors Who Used to Live Around You 

Cambodians pray during the Meak Bochea Buddhist celebration at the Oddong mountain in Kandal province, some 40 kilometers north of Phnom Penh on January 31, 2018. (Photo: AFP)

To all the youngsters out there! Of course, the past might be turbulence. The turbulent ride of both wonderful and awful things. However, if we try to point our vision to the beautiful things out there, that vision will guide us to see as well as remember the people around us, especially the ones who have contributed good and comforting things. Beside your parents, teachers and relatives, there is another unforgettable actor who may guide you, educate you and pave your life journey. This actor resembles the elderly wise people who live near your house and in your neighborhood. 

“Grandma Phan has passed away!”

“Grandpa Sao is severely sick!”

“Uncle Sok has no one to take care of him.”

When making a phone call to their parents who live in the provinces, youngsters usually receive information regarding the status of their villages, especially the current situation of the elderly neighbors. The persons whom the youngsters have not had the chance to meet for years. It is true that the gap between age and technology may affect the warm relations between these two different generations. Even if this is the case, the elders in your hometown or village are the persons who should never ever be forgotten. They are among the persons who have nurtured you and looked after you since your infancy. 

Can you recall those moments? When we left our villages, some of the elders who lived there were already old. As we leave our hometowns behind in order to start a new life, a new career in a new land, the relation between ourselves and the elders becomes more disconnected. It may not really be an issue for some elders who already have good living conditions with grateful and helpful children. However, for some other elders, how they used to live 20 or 30 years ago has remained almost unchanged. Their deteriorating health and energy become an even heavier burden for them. 

Every time you have a chance to return to your hometown or village, whether it is during Khmer New Year or the Pchum Ben Day celebration, there is a possibility that you will never see some of your elders’ faces ever again. 

Close your eyes and take yourself back to the past. Who helped carry you and offered you cookies when your parents were busy? Who offered life-saving ideas when your parents could not think of any ways to start a business and earn money for the family? As you can remember, beside your own relatives, the elders in your neighborhood were there to assist you and your family. Some of them might be as old as your parents. Others might be a lot older. 

Sometimes, the elders stood on your side even though you were having problems with their own children. Sometimes, the elders hid you and protected you from your parents’ anger and violence. These are only some of the minor things that they did. There are much more that they have offered you unconditionally. 

How big is Sreyleak now? Has Theara gotten any jobs? Mengseang got married with a lady from what province? How many children does Pitou has now? These are some of the questions that the elders in the village usually ask your parents or your relatives about you whenever they have a chance. Can you see? They never forget you. 

Even though you cannot give in return gratitude, affection and love the same way you do with your parents, at least you can show some admiration toward your elders or you can just offer them some financial support or something similar. This is not as complicated as you may think. Good deeds never die. These are good deeds that the elders had offered you and the good deeds that you should think of giving back to them. 

 


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