Even though Leni, Lyseang, and I spent a great afternoon together watching The Wizard of Oz and playing with Barbies and makeup, my heart is pounding right now as if we might be making some possibly irreparable or very expensive mistakes as we simultaneously try to do the right thing for Socheat’s niece while navigating a virtually nonexistent social services system.
Nobody knows what we should do next, and this is only compounded by the fact everything is closed until after the weeklong Khmer New Year celebration.
I will be relieved again when the legality of what Leni’s father has decided to do for Lyseang can be determined and explained to me.
There are too many precedent examples of seemingly unknown and previously unheard of Cambodian laws being arbitrarily and capriciously enforced.
My own harrowing experience in 2015 with Cambodian civil servants has left me rightfully fearful and suspicious.
It really is a lawless jungle here.
By the way, my translation of The Wizard of Oz into Khmer for a little kid who does not speak a single word of English added an extra layer of absurdity to the story. Thankfully, Leni could explain what I was trying to say.
“The bad magic teacher lady with green skin wants the special red shoes, and she does not like water.”