It wasn’t until she was in prison, serving a life sentence for a murder, that Ny Nourn learned the full extent of what her mother went through during the Cambodian genocide. But by then, without ever realizing it, Nourn had lived a life that echoed her mother’s.
Like so many Cambodian Americans of her age, Nourn arrived in the United States with her mother when she was just a child. Her only memories of the collective trauma her people endured after the Khmer Rouge seized power in 1975 were vague wisps of the hunger and cold she experienced in the refugee camp where she was born.
As it was for so many Cambodian Americans of her generation, the genocide became an ever-present cloud that hung overhead, darkening the shadows but never directly discussed.