Author: Sambath Meas
Genre: Family Memoir
This is a story about a father’s dream of escaping a war-torn country in search of stability and freedom, so that his children can live and thrive.
Sarin Meas, who was born and grew up in a remote village in Trangel, Kampong Chhnang, drifts from one place to another in search of a purpose, and a better life. In Pailin, a small town in western Cambodia known for its richness of gemstones, he meets a poor and uneducated girl whose daily life, from dusk until dawn, is strained by hard work: selling fruits and vegetables at the local market, along with cooking, doing laundry and cleaning up after strangers and relatives whom her aunt has taken in. If she doesn’t do her chores correctly and one of them tells on her, her aunt, a woman whose mood changes like a person suffering from a split personality, hurls foul language at her and beats her with any heavy object in sight. Sarin realizes that this young woman, whom everyone calls Thach, will die if she continues to live like this. So he marries her out of compassion. His compassion turns into love. Sarin and Thach form a family.
Tragically, after fifteen years of peaceful existence and independence from France, Cambodia gets sucked into the war of idealism between the world’s super powers—America, China, and the Soviet Union—by way of the Vietnam War. Cambodian leaders and people take sides. The Khmer Republic (backed by the United States) and the Khmer Rouge (backed by China, the Soviet Union and Vietnam) fight each other acrimoniously. After five years of battle, the relentless Khmer Rouge soldiers emerge victorious. Sarin has an opportunity to escape to Thailand with his family, but chooses to remain behind out of fear of the unknown. Soon he realizes the victors don’t know how to manage the country. Fear, paranoia and revenge turn them and their supporters into a killing machine. Sarin, through cleverness and luck, helps his family navigate the horror of communism. When a second opportunity arrives, like thousands of other surviving Cambodians, he takes the chance to venture to the unknown—to find freedom, opportunity, and a better life for his family.
The Immortal Seeds: A Tribute to Golden Treasures is not only about the continuing of a family’s life cycle; it is also about a father’s idea—a purpose—that gets passed on to his daughter. In turn she hopes to pass it on to people not only within her community but also around the world.
“King Grandfather would like to wish that your memoir The Immortal Seeds will become successful.”
—Norodom Sihanouk, King of Cambodia
“The Immortal Seeds is a story of war, love, and the unbreakable bonds of family. Touchingly told, Sambath pays homage to her family across the generations, and shares how they helped the Meases to survive the war and thrive in peace.”
—Loung Ung, author of First They Killed My Father and Lucky Child
“The Immortal Seeds exhibits a memoir’s emphasis on highly personalized, if not fully contextualized, experiences.”
—The Phnom Penh Post, Cambodia’s Newspaper
Review: In this book, author Sambath Meas courageously investigates the history of her own family, and of the communist regime that controlled Cambodia for years. The focus of the story is, in particular, on the Khmer Rouge years, which is a brutal, harrowing period. A lot of this information was new to me, and it's not something you see in history class, it goes far beyond that. Heart wrenching, tragic, it really pulled at my heart strings. Still, the message is one of hope and survival, and to never give up.