Smart, aren’t I? I say in Khmer.
I’m shouting across the street.
It’s 8am Phnom Penh.
Tuk tuk taxis drive past.
Dad’s taking their kids to school.
5 nights no sleep.
I’m sitting outside a guesthouse.
The young staff, three lads in their late teens, early twenties, sit behind me.
Across the street a cop walks past.
I shout across the street again to the three moto dop drivers who always sit there, who have known me for years.
Chlaart, I say.
It’s smart in Khmer.
The three hold my eye.
I speak in Khmer.
Smart, aren’t I. The big gangster boss gives me a free gram and I think I’m important. I’m in. I’m accepted by the big gang boss. She gives me free drugs to smoke. I’m important. I’m friends of the big boss.
That’s what I thought, last night, when she gave it to me.
I hadn’t thought, not for one second, it hadn’t even crossed my mind, that she was giving me the free gram so when the police stormed my room they would have a reason to arrest me.
Not for one second had I imagined the police, the Khmer community, would want to lock me up in Prey Sar.
I thought I was given the free gift because I was loved, respected and accepted, not hated, despised and rejected.
Smart, I shout again, across the busy street, a cluster of bodies now gathering on the street, outside the police station. Aren’t I?