Emotional Scars of the War


Our company gave us a yellow polo shirt yesterday. It’s made out of a nice material, well made, but nothing fancy about it, this time, they managed to order me a size Small, which I’m glad because we don’t seem to have anyone here wearing a small anymore.

Then one of my co-workers, the one that washes her sandals in her dishwasher approached me today and carefully wording her question, “did you get a yellow t-shirt yesterday?” At this point I didn’t know how to answer her because sometimes our company don’t always give something like this to every employees, especially her only working part-time.

She went on and said, “I took it home yesterday and was about to wash it, when I saw that it’s made in Cambodia, and I clenched when I saw the label.” I was a bit puzzled, I thought it look pretty nice and she must have sensed my confusion. She then said, “It’s traumatized for me to even touch it, just the thought of those Khmer Rouge did to people in your country, I didn’t know how you feel when you saw that. You lived in that country during the Vietnam War, I thought of you immediately.” I honestly think that she thinks all Asian people came from Cambodia or Vietnam. I told her I was from Laos, she said, “same deal.”

I had to think for a moment, how did I feel? How do I feel now? I always thought that I don’t have any emotional scars that would cloud my judgment; at least I like to think this way. I went on and explained to her that I can separate between certain groups of people and the country as a whole, they can’t help of what had happened and we shouldn’t hold them against what happened during the war.

She then said, “same deal, it’s the whole Vietnam War Era, just the though of the Khmer Rouge slithering in your country and killing innocent people, I don’t know if I could ever bring myself to wear that t-shirt. At one time, I used to only buy American made products but it’s more difficult now, but still trying to avoid buying anything that is made in China, Vietnam and Cambodia.” She then told me a story of what had happened to her relative, and the emotional scars that he has gone through after he got back from the Vietnam War, and still not sound minded. It’s a sad situation indeed. She told me, “I’m glad that we get to talk about this, every time I looked at that t-shirt, I thought of you.”

She asked me about what I could remember of the war in Laos, this would not be my first time telling the story, even though I was young and didn’t encounter any gruesome images like most people that fled the war, but I could never recall ever completing telling the story…my emotion always gets the best of me. I can’t explain why I feel this way, Is this what they called emotional scars of the war?