Kat Sok!


My partner Eric is Cambodian by his mother, and French by his father. In Khmer, a “kon kat”, “cut child”. On Sundays, we visit his mother in the ivory tower of her borey (a gated community). Often, she turns to me and says: “His hair is too long, why doesn’t he cut it? “. Cutting is pronounced “kat” in Khmer, and hair “sok”. Eric looks like a barang (a “Western”); he has pale skin, bronze-colored eyes, and very long silky hair. Girl’s hair. In Cambodia, long hair is associated with artists, non-conformists, and marginal people. “Mauvais genre,” (“wrong kind”) says Eric’s mother. It’s funny, because she wanted to have a girl, and after her first boy, when Eric was born, she dressed him in pink. In Eric’s long hair, I see resistance, irony, distance. The distance between him and his mother. Between those who left the country and those who remained and went through the war. The exiled people of the diaspora, and those who return. They both have invisible scars. Since his “return” to Cambodia, Eric has had to redefine the contours of his skin. He will never live up to the expectations of his “motherland”. They love each other but are always “a hair’s breadth away” from each other. In Eric’s story, I see an inverted mirror of my own story.