Updated September 16, 2009: I didn’t get to watch Nerakhoon, the Betrayal film when it aired in July on PBS, and pre-ordered my copy from the Cinema Guild. They mailed it out on September 1st, and I got it several days later but didn’t get to watch it with my sisters until the past Saturday. I didn’t know what to expect but was looking forward to seeing my old neighborhood, and one of my friends had mentioned to me that he didn’t realize how bad it was when I was talking about my old neighborhood and my childhood growing up until he saw the documentary film.
After watching the film, I was not moved by the life in the US, might be that it was something that we’ve experienced also since we lived in the same neighborhood, same building, and same sponsor that brought us to the US. But we were not as bad off, we were fortunate that we had both our parents at the time, and my parents, especially my mom had been a good role model for us, we’ve come a long way. Also, I feel that it’s a choice that we made in life, it comes with consequences and we might not be able to see it at the time. When you’re young, you think you’re invincible, I recalled hearing about being “21 and die” growing up and that’s the mentality of many that join gangs, I don’t know if they think living past 21 is considered old, like over the hill.
The life struggled of the family leaving Laos was very moving to me, once again we had it easy in comparison to them. When Ai Thavi’s grandmother looked at the chicken’s feet to foretell the path and future is new to me, it’s almost comical when she said that his path was wide open because the feet were spread out, it was time for him to leave, and he left. The image of the family united at the concentration camp in Thailand was also moving, an image of a mother that had to make a decision of leaving her two children and her husband behind, one being only 3 years old, she was one brave woman.
The most touching moment to me was when their father visited them in New York, and also the most heart breaking moment when he had to leave to be with his other family in Florida, to me this is Nerakhoon (betrayal), but yet in the Lao culture, are we allowed to make such a statement about our own father that he is Nerakhoon to his family, or is it the children that are Nerakhoon when they feel anger toward the man that gave them life? But this is clearly not the main point, please note that I didn’t miss the main point of this documentary film, that it was meant to bring into light or expose the secrete war that the American Government failed to acknowledge that it ever happened, and that the Nerakhoon was the betrayal that the family feel when they came to America, they feel abandoned by the American Government. But isn’t it part of life to struggle, or is it fair to think that America owe us?
There are other aspects of this documentary film that’s considered Nerakhoon (the Betrayal), and I’m sure we all have our own perspective on this, whether it be political or personal.
Posted July 21, 2009: A reminder from MissPhom, The Betrayal (Nerakhoon) is airing tonight on PBS, please check your local listings, as for me it’s 10 PM (I think, but I can’t seem to find it on my local listing, so I might not get to watch it) Thavisouk was my neighbor in Brooklyn, NY, so this was my old neighborhood and looking forward to seeing his life on film.
A post that I wrote last year: Underreported: The Legacy of the War in Laos via Nerakhoon