SINARTH - 2015
Honking geese were added as a present from his police officer friend, Etra Smey, who looked after the village, providing them as sentries.
He was concerned about Sinarth’s welfare and often stopped to check up on him and his house, as he did for all the villagers.
The geese didn’t put in too much effort through the day but eagerly alerted him to foxes sneaking in at night, delighted with the array of food provided. He planted hundreds of fruit trees of many varieties, which produced so much fruit it was impossible to come close to eating it all.
Another addition was a bunch of cream dogs, with mottled splotches of dark grey and black thrown across their eyes, that raced up and down the muddy dirt road in front and galloped after Sinarth each morning as he left on his motorbike.
A rogue cat joined the menagerie, with the whole lot getting along somehow or other, except when stealing each other’s food. Then there would be brawls, with the animals taking sides and chasing each other through the surrounding property.
A former Khmer Rouge soldier, Mr Beng, who had rice fields further up the road and lived in the next village, often dropped by on his way home, cutting through Sinarth’s property with his big beaming smile, laughing and joking and drinking beer on many nights with him.
Rice was planted in every available place and a final mango tree positioned right near the house, carefully tended in the hope it would grow up to provide shade from the baking sun and pouring rain, just like his childhood home.
He built this house for Shrievien and his daughters, filling it with the life they had wished for, and for his ancestors to return to.
Standing back, looking across at the milling animals, his playing daughters, visiting villagers and friends, he decided that finally Cambodia was good.
(Extracts from 'Sinarth')
Sinarth’s working arrangements became easier and he managed to purchase a small block of land beside a village thirty kilometres from Siem Reap, where he built a simple one-room house.
Over time he bought adjoining blocks and extended the house, building kitchen areas, washrooms and separate sleeping areas.
Outside he built pigpens to raise pigs for the markets, keeping a large breeding pair that squealed and annoyed each other, shuffling for space during the day. Employing two lady workers living nearby, they constructed chicken coops to house the hundreds of free-range chickens they bred.
The chickens roamed around the property and squabbled with fat ducks that escaped the chicken harassment by floating out on the dams, which held hundreds of fingerling fish.