▶️ Watch on 3Speak
Greetings all, @Sreypov has always been a bit shy to get on camera, so I thought I would do a Khmer-English video telling a little bit about how we use the Khmer language to stay entertained in public here in Suriname.
A Totally Secret Language
You see, my family and I are the only 4 speakers of the Cambodian language in all of Suriname. We know this because the immigration department has never processed any Cambodian passports in the history of this country. There are a handful of Vietnamese and Thai people here, but we have yet to meet them. There are many ethnic Hmong in French Guiana too, but as far as Suriname goes, Khmer is a completely secret language. For this reason, we usually speak only Khmer when in public, and even though we may be surrounded by hundreds of people at times, we can have a totally private conversation.
Whether it be commenting on how rude someone was, a youth wearing their pants below their butt, or any other general foolishness we witness, we use the Khmer language to discuss it openly, and I must say it's quite liberating. In Cambodia everyone speaks Khmer and there is broad understanding of English, so we have no secret family language there. Considering the millions of tourists each year that visit Cambodia from all over the world, probably no language is truly secret, especially in the capital, Phnom Penh.
Laughter is the Way
Our time here has been a constant struggle, and although I handle external stresses somewhat well, two years of living as stranded migrants has taken a toll on even me, an otherwise resilient person. I try not to let it show, and do my best to give my daughters comfort through positivity, and of course, laughter, sacred laughter.
So, how do we stay sane? Laughter truly is the best natural medicine, and I truly believe that. I do whatever I can each day to make sure I see all my family members laugh and smile several times, even if it means farting in a store and talking about it loudly in Khmer while holding a can of coconut milk and pretending that is the thing I am discussing with @sreypov. This will usually bring her to tears, and then I know my work is done.