Samnang Eam

Rain dripped down the face of the nearly-new father, bent in front of his wife’s swollen belly, also veined with tiny streams of water. The baby would not wait for them to finish their journey. She would enter the world in a valley between the mountains that divide Cambodia and Thailand with only her parents and siblings to see. Her father eased her out with bare hands, and held the infant while her mother cut the umbilical cord with the sharp edge of a palm leaf. Sam An wiped her clean as best as he could, and put his daughter in his wife’s arms. He reached for the watch in his pocket, his last real possession, and saw that the baby was born at 7pm. They called her Samnang, “lucky” in Khmer.