IKTT (Institute for Khmer Traditional Textiles), from SiemReap Cambodia
IKTT (Institute for Khmer Traditional Textiles), from SiemReap Cambodia

The couple came back

The couple came back

The villagers who quit IKTT sometimes come back again.There are several rules for the person who can come back. One of the rules is that the retirement is not done without permission.Now I introduce the couple who spent only 3 days when they came back to IKTT.

The couple was from Takeo province and the wife was one of the best skillful weavers in IKTT. The husband was 34 years old carpenter and also a good worker for plastering work. I liked both of them. While I went to Japan in May, some men living in PWF helped neighboring quarry operator, who lived next to PWF across a river and who has jointed business with Thai capital, to build the pig house of ten thousands scale.

He worked as a master carpenter and managed the other carpenters. He received everyone's wages at first. He listened to his close elderly co-worker's instigation to snitch the wages.

It might say that the devil idea made him such doing. But the elderly man was his drinking friend. In these several years, when someone cause problems at PWF, the problems were always caused by these deep drunken men.

The couple made money and paid to the co-workers by selling his wife's few gold accessories and by borrowing her wages. The co-workers settled the matter to the local police officer because everyone would forgive him as their wages come back by thinking of he was same co-worker.

The 32 years old wife is a really good worker. She works against the loom even on the holiday. She weaves twice faster than others and the created textiles are beautiful.She became necessary person for IKTT.

But after his problem, he was treated as unpaid leave and even after he finished to return the other co-workers wages, he was looked down by the other people for a while.

The couple lived in one of three terrace-style houses of PWF. He spent fishing at the nearby pond everyday. After a month, his wife told me if he can come back to work. I asked the opinion to some PWF leaders, but everyone seemed to neglect.

When personal problems occurred in PWF, basically I relied on PWF members. I try to wait until they solve the problems by themselves.At the final stage of the discussion when they are about to make the decision, at this timing I go into their discussion.

When the mat weaving villagers visited PWF to learn about natural dyeing the other day, the leader of them asked me whether there were the problems occurred sometimes in PWF, because they felt the PWF villagers seemed work well together without any problem. It seemed their village has continual such problems.

We share the big goal in PWF that we create the best textile in the world. We get together to achieve the purpose. It is our basic idea. We have built the PWF village from nothing in field. We moved stumps and cultivated the waste field. Sometime people say to me that it was hard work to create the village from zero like this.

Already an existing village has complex stakes of land and family relation. I understood we do not have to use extra power if we would start at the new field. We had to spend a lot of time to clear the complex stake problem more than to spend time to achieve the project. I had such experiences in the past when I joined some projects at several villages in Thailand and Cambodia over 20 years.

When I started the hand-made textile project at north east Thai village 25 years ago, the village's women and primary school teachers were affirmative, but the village's men were skeptic against our project. Because several projects had been tried to start at their village in the past, but as a result they got nothing from the projects only they got wasted time.

There was a big pond at the entrance of the village, so we decided to start the fish firming project with the village's young guys. When we bought young fishes and prepared for the project, some Japanese supporting person asked us that the fish firming was good but when the textile project start. After one half of the year passed, when the young fishes were growing, the relation between we and the village men became well and the men agreed to start the textile project that the women wanted to start. It should start from fish firming at first before starting textile. We had such experiences again and again.

About a half of month has passed since she asked me about his reappointment, she come to me this time about her retirement. She said she could not stay if her husband could not work at PWF.

And several days passed after then, I could not talk enough with her because of my busyness, her last day came. They left PWF getting on one of our stuff's car together that went back to Siem Reap. After I sent them off, I recalled the day of their first visit to the village inadvertently. They came to PWF with only the barest necessities without any money and to depend upon the same village weaver from Takeo province.

It had passed almost 2 years since they came to here. I heard the story of their coming to here from the other person. And there was no doubt they did not have any place where they could stay at Takeo province and they had to live from hand to mouth. I asked to their co-worker who lived same house whether we should bring them back or not. Everyone knew about the situation and said unassumingly that we should do so.

They were not actually ostracized but they betrayed a confidence, so I got an agreement with village leader Touru and several main other members by asking them to bring their apologized letter. In this way they got a chance to come back and stay with us again.

We decided and contacted to the couple next day of their leaving. But it seemed that they sold the cell phone to someone so we could not contact soon. The woman from the same village informed it to their cousin at Takeo province, and the next day the couple called us. They asked us whether they really can come back. I said yes. And the next day the couple came back by motorcycle taxi. Somehow they had a new kettle and looked shyly but happily.

Morimoto, Kikuo

update : April 1, 2010 2:21 PM

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