Translated by Yin Luoth

Writen by Sok Chanphal

អាន​រឿង​នេះ​ជា​ភាសាខ្មែរ​នៅ អនុស្សាវរីយ៍


The last Part of Life


One afternoon, I was strolling on the beach and met a man around thirty years old, who was sitting and painting under a pine tree whose branches danced along with the waves and their sound.  In his painting there were multicolored clouds and the sea at the sunset.  He painted like a real skilled, professional painter, but his painting was not beautiful.  It was similar to a child’s painting in the purest and honest sense.  He asked me, “Do you think it is beautiful?”  I answered smiling, “It looks like a kid’s painting.”

The man continued to dip his brush into some red color to paint a big sun among the clouds.  Then he continued to ask me, “ Do you think the sun is too big or too small?”  I answered, “Too big.  It is really big.” Each time he spoke, he never turned to look at me.  He continued to say, “I like the sunset.  That is why I paint it big.”

“It doesn’t look natural,” I answered.

“It doesn’t look natural, but it is natural.”

After this answer, he turned to look at me.  His eyes looked soft with thick eyebrows.  He smiled and with a tender sigh said, “Do you have a happy life?”

I looked at the painting while ignoring his question.  He continued.  “Do you know?  I think, this world is a laughing stock…… Hard workers get tired; lazy people have easy lives; smart people end up with misfortune; ignorant people turn out to be fortunate… Good people are violated by bad people; doing a good deed receives a bad result.  Serious people are controlled by sloppy ones… good savers have to turn money over to loose spenders.  Persistent people continue to persist…”  I think that if I didn’t have cancer, I would have to work hard until the day I die.”

I asked him, “Do you have cancer?”

“Right,” he smiled, “but you don’t need to be sympathetic because I am the most happy, sick person.”

“Why?”

“Cancer destroys my future. It gives me the full meaning of the present. You can see that right now I have full freedom.  I sit and paint anything I want without having to worry about whether it’s good or if I have to please somebody?

“Why is this? Because​​ you are sick?”

“Because this sickness is allowing me during the last part of my life to do what I like, to be whomever I want to be. When I didn’t know that my life was coming to an end, I had to work hard.  I tortured myself from childhood.  I studied hard. It almost caused a nervous breakdown. I misled myself.  I’ve never done anything for me. I like to read novels for my own entertainment, but I thought it was not as useful as reading textbooks.  I like to listen to music, but I pushed myself to listen to the news.”

When he said this, I laughed.  He patted my shoulders, asked me to sit, and continued to question me, “Do you think this life is only about persistence?”

“Not true. I think life is about hope.”

He was quiet for a moment and said, “Actually my life is good.  I sleep as much as I want.  I can take a stroll.  I do what I want to do.  No pressure on my life.  Must I have to have hope? Must I?”

November 2007