Life's Choices CM e rI s CI vi t Samphos, Bopha, POV SAMPHOS, age 17 and Rith as -is someone who always children plans before she does some- thing. Her mother makes and sells baked goods for a living and her father is an honest policeman. She has a very good memory and is good at school, but always needs Rith’s help in mathematics. Age 3 SUON BOPHA, age 17 - is an enthusiastic and happy person. Her father is a smart businessman and her mother is a housewife. She is Age 5 not very excited by school- work. But she also wants to be promoted to Grade 12. TEP RITH, age 17 - His father is the Deputy Age 5 Governor of Kompong Spean province and his mother is a medical physician. Since his father is always busy with his work, Rith spends most of his time with his mother. Rith does not have much confi- dence in himself. The subjects he’s good at are mathematics, physics, and chemistry. Age 6 Life's Choices CM e rI s CI vi t School Director Sokha Teacher Visal Borey Kosal Dany Legal Notice All contents copyright © Our Books. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents featured in this publication are imaginary. Any resemblance to real events, persons (living or dead), locales or institutions is coincidental. THE TEACHER ARRIVES. Everyone may sit down now! Chapter 1: Class Leader THE FIRST DAY OF THE NEW SCHOOL YEAR AT KOMPONG SPEAN SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL, IN GRADE 11 “E”: The new Class Leader will be chosen the day after tomorrow. Is anyone interested to stand for the election? Raise your hands, please. Soon we will Who are the select our candidates, No idea. Class Leader! Rith? BOPHA AND SAMPHOS Who do you think Oh! The the Class Leader former Class DISCUSS THE NEW TERM: will be this year? Oh, no! Leader wants to Our last continue, eh? leader, Kosal, lost our class It may funds to buy Look! Rith is completely Rith, the the class tree. lost in thought. Want How be the teacher asked And he said the to surprise him? beautiful Dany former you to raise money was looks! leader your hand! again. stolen. Who Yeah! knows? He might have spent all that money gambling on football, and collected our money again. 2 3 Kosal, Rith and Dany, please Yes, sir! They tricked present yourselves. me! Uh oh! We’ve found a TO THE TEACHER’S DISMAY, NONE OF So, which one of the three competitor for the THE STUDENTS RAISES THEIR HAND. do you think deserves the former Class Leader. position? Now, anyone else? Now there are two Anybody else? Tomorrow, you boys. Aren’t there If not, it means three candidates Yes, sir! Yes, sir! Yes, sir! any brave girls who Sir! that - should present want to be candi- your plans to dates for Leader? the class. The election will come the day after that. we have these Very good, three Dany! candidates for this year. 4 5 Why did you ask me to Hey, THE SECOND DAY, Hey guys, have some chocolate, raise my hand? I never relax, pal! We only BEFORE CLASS: my father just bought it from wanted to be Class wanted to help you. Singapore. Thanks, Leader. Kosal! Help me? Why? We know that you like Dany. Right? ALL STUDENTS TOOK SOME CHOCOLATE EXCEPT FOR SAMPHOS, BOPHA AND RITH. This is a great way to catch Dany’s interest. Oh, I am ‘out of her league’. I But if you are elected as never wanted to be Class Class Leader, Dany might Leader! It’s such notice you. You can never a boring job! know! A LITTLE LATER... Please, sit down! OK, guys! Enough. Let’s go home. And you’d better think of what to say for your speech tomorrow. 6 7 Which one of KOSAL IS FIRST If you all vote for RITH’S TURN. Um..... um.... well, if you vote you three want TO RESPOND. me, I promise that I for me, I promise that I to deliver your will organize many will lead our class to speech first? fun activities for becoming a model class. Sir! Thank all of us. you! And if I win this election, I That’s an impressive speech, AP P AP AP CL CLA LAP CL will throw you all a party Mr. Class Leader Candidate! CL AP C CL at my house, and We’re so proud we’ll to have a friend have like you. lots of fun there. I also have video games For the girls, I will buy at home. a flower for each on Valentine’s Day and Women’s Rights’ Day. BOPHA WHISPERS If you vote for me, I I will write down Finally, I promise for TO SAMPHOS: promise that I will man- every expense we all important class age all the activities make in a note- decisions, I’ll ask Look! He’s He’s full of our class well. book so you first. already brib- of false that you ing every one promises. I all can of us to vote will never have an for him. He vote for him idea of thinks that again. what I am we’d be fools doing like last with the year, huh? money. 8 9 THE SCHOOL BELL SIGNALS AS STUDENTS LEAVE THE Dany’s won 28 THE END OF THE DAY. CAMPUS, DANY SEES RITH. votes, Rith 27 Well... um, you votes, and Kosal You did very well in spoke better 5 votes. G! G! DON your speech in class. DON than me, Dany. G! DON I’d therefore like to declare Dany as your Class Leader this year! AP See! Now you First of all, I would AP CL AP Dany...Dany talked can catch her like to say thank to me just now! attention. CL CL you to all of our classmates for believing in me and voting for me. I will do everything I have promised earlier. THE ELECTION Everyone, Let’s have Rith as our Assistant Leader since DAY ARRIVES. let’s start he’s won 27 votes for himself. Rith and I will the voting cooperate with each other and do our best now. to make this a model class this year. 10 11 RITH, BOPHA, AND SAMPHOS Hey, it’s time you thank us, WALK HOME AFTER SCHOOL. Assistant Leader! So, you now have time to get close to the Class Leader. You got 27 votes! With just another vote, you would have been the winner. I would have if I hadn’t voted for Dany. End Chapter One 12 Chapter 2: Test papers IN THE SCHOOL DIRECTOR’S OFFICE: Congratulations to you all for being selected as Class Leaders. Who knows? You might turn out to be Sir, We haven’t a leader in the government or of a thought that far company one day in the future! yet. 13 Well, I’ve asked you all here to RITH HURRIES TO THE AND POUNDS ON THE ! ! ang Bang my office to let you know we will Yes, sir! Yes, sir! FRONT OF THE CLASS -- BLACKBOARD. have the school’s tree planting B ceremony next month. Please go ! g ! Ban g Ban back to your class and start collecting money for your class tree. What? Collecting OK! I have We money again? We’ve DANY WALKS BACK May I have your something I need to have to paid many times TO THE CLASSROOM. attention, please, to tell you: explain some collect already, haven’t we? everyone? things. money to buy our class tree. Oh yeah? If I’m DANY COLLECTS MONEY FROM not mistaken, SAMPHOS... Everyone? you didn’t pay last time. Dany, why don’t you ask your secretary to help? Oh, that’s not necessary. I can do it myself. 14 15 SAMPHOS SIGNS THE RECORD Wow! You are You need to be faster, buddy! BOOK OF GRADE 11E. keeping good records. I think that Fantastic! it’s better if you have some Yeah! Not small record. Girls what? like Not the boys stupid who are ones? brave, Is that not... what you mean? That’s not what we mean. This is a great idea! No This evening I will go Look, she is gorgeous, smart We don’t what you intend Class Leader did this buy the class tree. Can and there are lots of guys to do regarding Dany, What should before. That’s why it someone help me carry after her. I have many but if you like her I do? was confusing. it? competitors. you should take our advice. I want to be fair, and it helps me remember. It’s a big class! Thank you. Girls like successful That’s a good P P P Rith, wake up! We LA CLA CLA Me! Thank you. guys. So you study idea. I’ll bring my have an exam If I save C hard and try to get notes and ... coming! money the top grade in all buying our subjects. the tree, I will keep it for our class account. It’s true. Can you two come to my house to and some Right, exam. review our lessons cookies made by I almost forgot, together this evening? your mother too! need to catch up. 16 17 AT THE SCHOOL CANTEEN: Next week, IN THE AFTERNOON, AT KABOOM! That will save there’s another BOPHA’S HOUSE... you from the exam. exam. So boring! More Oh, my brain will importantly, explode! Let’s call we are out of Don’t worry, it a day, OK? cookies. Tomor- we can han- row, can you dle it as bring extra? usual. I’ve heard that teacher wants to increase the price. Bopha, your first Now what? thought is always food. The gasoline If we want to pass, just slip some So the price is up. money in the exam paper. Low amount, exam low score. More money, high score. price is up too? Some exercise will clear Sure. our heads. Why do you look worried? Last And doing exercise We have month you sold your moto and told helps some fat no choice. your mother it was stolen. Does he mean people become slim. I’m fat? I’m not gaining weight, It’s tragic Manchester United lost. am I? Mother told me if I lost my moto a third time, it’s my problem - not hers. You are her only child. You’ll find a way. Hey, let’s go. 18 19 Do you remember THE EXAM DAY ARRIVES. AS THE TEACHER GIVES PAPERS TO THE STUDENTS, THE what Kosal and his SCHOOL DIRECTOR OBSERVES THE EXAMINATION. friends said this Sure, they were morning? talking about the exam next week. What was that? Kosal and his friends want They don’t come to school to slip money in their exam regularly and sometimes papers. sleep in class, but our teacher didn’t say anything. Oh! That’s why they always got good scores. I thought they were smart! We’ve got to do something. Right! Let’s Catch me to find out! ask the price Not that! for a high We have to score! do some- thing to stop those guys! But what? 20 21 DAYS LATER AT THE SCHOOL CANTEEN: No way! Everyone’s calling him “PAO I don’t understand why the School JING THEAN”.* Director came to collect the exam paper this time! I think we have a ‘traitor’ in our class. If I put money in the exam paper, my score is zero! Did you put any money in your exam paper? * The honest, incorruptable judge from TV drama We will fail, for sure. We didn’t write anything at all on the exam paper. Ha! Ha! If I review my lessons, maybe I can write something on the next exam. Hey, look! I think Dany needs Here, Let me a little help. That tree Thank you, Rith. help, Dany. looks heavy. So where are your competitors, Rith? Go help her! End Chapter Two 22 Chapter 3: Monthly Marks CLASS 11E ASSEMBLES AT KOMPONG SPEAN HIGH SCHOOL Uh oh! Rith's competition is one step ahead. Thanks for the vote Hi, class is of confidence. cancelled! Easy now! Hey, great! We are free For two hours! 23 Kosal suggests some Sorry, but the math You want to come I don’t understand Dany, will karaoke, will you go? exam is coming. I need with us next time? this at all. you go? I’ll think to go to the library. Just a break, for about it. those who aren’t There is bookworms. a group going? Yes, see, they’re Just a second, I’ll go getting ready to go! and get a formula book. Singing! I haven’t done it Hey, Rith for ages. Samphos, Rith? I’ll go with Dany. He can find was here. another seat. Me too. But Rith’s things are Here they ONE HOUR LATER, THEY there. are. RETURN TO SCHOOL. Hey, Bopha, you have a great voice. You are not bad yourself. 24 25 NEXT DAY... Our ‘friend’ said that if we want Dany... um, here is the answers, we will have to pay the formula book. Hurry up, give me the Do we twice the usual cost. money so I can buy have the Thank the math exam paper. answers? Twice? you, Rith! No. Please sit OK. right here. Singing was less fun without you, Dany. If we don’t have the answers, how can we do the exam? We don’t have enough money. You’ve gone to karaoke Let’s be quiet, this many times, you seemed to is the library. We used to slip it in the Now we cannot PUT money in like it enough before... exam paper and it was the paper, we are afraid of cheaper that way. Director “Pao Ching Tean”. I’m talking with Yes, ‘Madame Dany, not you. President’. Simply pay for an average grade and you get it. Kosal, you understand all Dany, you don’t need He doesn’t the exercises, don’t you? to ask him. need to study, The Math exam is coming. he has his So we have to buy the exam, What? How? We should just buy own ‘special’ and then do the exercises. the exam paper and method. What a headache! then give it to Rith. Well, um... I know where we can get He’s the top student help, at a special discount. in math every month. 26 27 I’ll tell him that Dany, my THE DAY OF THE MATH EXAM Really? When If you told us, perhaps I would cousin, asked for help. was this? Umm, two or have been able to do exercise He’ll do it. three days two and five! ago. Why didn’t you tell Why do I That's because you us? have to tell wasted time singing Hmm, brilliant! you everything? karaoke with Kosal. They took advantage of me. But It's impossible. I think Oh, that was hard! It’s curious, this how did they get the exam paper? the math teacher exam looked would never do that. familiar. You don’t need to be He needs to feed curious. I’m sure they bought his family, and pay for water, it from the teacher. electricity, and gasoline. Compare that to his pay. How Do you want to mention Familiar to what, The exercises looked exactly could he live on that this to the School ‘Professor’? like this morning’s exam. small salary? Director? Earlier Sokha asked It’s not fair. I study hard for my me for some help. grades! We should do something. 28 29 ONE WEEK LATER... Today’s youth are hard to Um, uh we Yes, teacher! advise! They don’t want to don’t know. You three, study, but want to be film come here! stars. This month, what is your grade? Well then, do you have any grades yet? What? First! Come with me to my Math, I got grade office! Yes, number... grade teacher! number... How high did you score? I was first in my class. Long hair, nice what is So, 2 You can’t even solve Do you think you are movie clothes. You don’t (a-b) , then? an easy exercise! And stars? Why do you keep look very studious. you are ‘number one’? your hair so long? Um, um... I’m sorry, Teacher! We planned to cut our hair this evening! 30 31 A FEW MINUTES LATER.. Why is the Director here? He only I don’t know - but I saw comes for exams, Kosal, Sokha, Visal just usually. return from his office. Maybe they have created some trouble. Class! Today we will Math exam again? do the math exam I’m not ready! again. End Chapter Three 32 Chapter 4: Attendance Book KOMPONG SPEAN HIGH SCHOOL’S FOOTBALL TEAM COMPETES WITH KOMPONG SRALANG. The other team Bopha, I noticed you’ve is doing well. Go Rith! had more absences The game is lately. wHAT’S BEEN almost over! KEEPING YOU? Er...... I had some housework to do. 33 Really? I thought Dany, could you help you had gone to me to delete some Rith, great job! Karao.. um.. absence marks? I’m sorry, I’m not allowed to do that. Sorry. Thanks, but it’s not just me, it’s our whole team. How about you, It can’t be, you skipped class Know why you won? You had the Sopheap? How many for Karaoke like me! three prettiest girls in the absences do class cheering for you. you have? Never. Don’t be stupid. Just meet the teacher, give him some money, and he’ll delete all Really? Where absences for you. How can he feed his are the others family with such a low salary? besides Dany? RITH SCORES A GOAL - JUST AS THE MATCH ENDS. Um, RITH, could you help Dany, want to study with us? We learn at my me with math for the house almost every day from 2 o'clock. semester 2 exam? Great, Rith! Great. Of course. I’ll come. 34 35 What does Dany see KOSAL THINKS How can I get With Borey’s problem, will AFTER CLASS. in Rith anyway? FOR A MOMENT... those grades? you mark him absent? Where is Rith? I note everyone who is absent, what- ever reason they have. He’s one of the best students. If you want to interest Don’t ask Oh, he’s off Dany, you need to be at me, I’m not a buying books the top of the class. good student. with Dany. TUESDAY, MAY 20 AT 10 AM... CLASSMATE BOREY APPROACHES RITH: SUDDENLY… I have brought my moto today. Rith, you have a motorbike? May I Hey pretty Want to buy books after class? use it now? My family just called girls! to say my mother is sick. where are you going? Sounds Want to go good. for a walk with me? I go where I wish! It’s Oh, is it none of your business. serious? I don’t KOSAL AND HIS FRIENDS SEE Hah! Small body Here’s the key and Don’t talk with BOREY LEAVING SCHOOL… but big mouth. How Wait it, what’s know yet. parking ticket. My them. Let’s go, dare you, little the rush? motorbike's license hurry up. Hey Borey, skip- girl? plate number is 9999. ping Biology? I need a Thanks! I'll return it break, I’m going to you by 11 o'clock. for a drive. 36 37 Hey! What are you doing? you could buy us It’s best if you travel Leave my friends alone! breakfast sometime. with a larger group, it’s safer that way. Who are you? Why should I listen to you? Ha! I’ll treat you but you’ll have to buy seconds yourself. Yes sir! Hey, stop! He knows Borey, Kosal, you should put a A FEW DAYS LATER… the ‘Big Brother’ of warm egg on your bruise, Kompong Spean you’ll heal faster. Where is Rith? High School. Let’s go. They called for You sound him at the school like a nurse! office, I don’t know why. Kosal, are Thanks for your help, At the break time, That's right. Because If you you alright? Kosal and Visal. I need to meet the I don't want my par- don’t want Teacher, as well. ents to know that I to end up missed the class. like this, I'm ok. why do you skip class? You want to No big deal. delete some I know it's my fault, Maybe... absences, don’t you? ‘second mother’. 38 39 THE SCHOOL DIRECTOR’S OFFICE: Did you ride your THE POLICEMAN SCRATCHES Sang Borey! Why is the name motorbike with OFF THE WHITE INK Sang Borey changed? license plate No. 9999 at 10:00 on Tuesday? Er... at 10... Tuesday... Er... I attended Biology. Here you are! Do you remember that you lent Did you remove the absence Borey your motorbike in the of Sang Borey? morning on that day? Dany, can I Let’s look for see the students’ Rith’s attendance Yes, he said he would I don’t know either, attendance book? on Tuesday. visit his sick mother. maybe he did it himself. Rith was not marked absent Look! There is a white mark It'd be Sang Borey who rode on a motorbike with license plate on Tuesday, May 20. He did of correction pen here. Number 9999 and snatched the phone along Street 123 at 10 on attend biology session. Tuesday. We need to go find Sang Borey right now. I will ask my Deputy Director to take Thank you, you to Sang Borey. School Director. 40 41 Rith, Dany, you You received the money from the student Samphos, do you think maybe I could Huh! Why do you allow him can go. and erased the absence, didn’t you? join your study group? to learn with us at your house? OK, come to He’s my house helped at 2pm. us out, Uh, uh... he’s OK. Only Class Leaders and Teachers Thanks SAMPHOS. can keep the attendance book. He wants to spend time with Dany. I’m sorry, I will not More competition for Rith. do this again. So let them compete by studying hard. ‘A bad guy can be improved by a good woman’. I’m all for it. If you do this again, You think so? you will lose your job. BACK IN CLASS: AT SAMPHOS’ HOUSE: I don’t understand That’s at all. What’s the matter? because The you didn’t teacher study the stopped basics selling before. absences. I can help you catch up. BOPHA OVERHEARS THE CONVERSATION Oh! BETWEEN THE SCHOOL DIRECTOR AND THE Thanks, little TEACHER, AND KNOWS SHE IS TOO LATE. teacher. 42 43 FROM THAT TIME ONWARD, SAMPHOS HELPS KOSAL WITH HIS STUDIES. AT THE PARTY: Bopha, I don't think I will be promoted to grade 12! Thanks for taking your time Keep to teach working me, Rith. hard and I've got you’ll much get higher there. grades for this second semester. Don't mention it. You did it yourself. AT THE SCHOOL CANTEEN… AT THE SCHOOL COURTYARD… Thank you, tiny teacher. True. But I'm excited anyway I've been promoted to because I earned it. grade 12. Would But you like your to dance? score shows that you only just passed the exam. FINALLY, THE SECOND SEMESTER EXAM WAS OVER. I don’t know how to dance well. No worry, I can teach you this time. This Saturday we're organizing a party to mark the end of school year in Grade 11. Please wear something nice. THE End 44 45 SUMMER SCHOOL - PART ONE A few days after the school term finished, Bopha and Rith visited Samphos’ small home. They found Samphos busy in the kitchen, baking cookies and cakes with her mother, who sells them every day in the market. “Oh, so you came for some cookies,” Samphos said with a smile. “Did you think I come to visit you?” Bopha answered. “I knew it,” Samphos said playfully. “Ok, if you want to eat, you need to help us bake them!” Bopha and Rith helped Samphos and her mother. They began to get hungry, looking at all the food. “OK, watch those cookies, I’m going to get more flour,” said Samphos’ mother. “Hey Rith, when will you register your name for summer classes?” said Bopha. “I registered already and also for Dany,” Rith said. “Ah ha, you will sit next to her,” smiled Samphos. “How could you register before us? We always sit together!” said Bopha. “Samphos, we should go to register our name together,” said Bopha. “So we can sit next to each other.” Bopha threw some rice four at Rith. “Wait for us next time!” Rith threw some back, and Samphos couldn’t resist joining in the fun. 46 Suddenly Samphos’ mother came back to see their faces white from flour. “How dare you!” she says. “You know what? People work hard to grow rice. I’ve done it. If you don’t respect flour, it means you don’t respect the people who work very hard in the field.” “Sorry Aunt,” Rith and Bopha said. “Sorry Mother,” Samphos said. They continued working. Bopha continued talking about her plans. “If I have time, I want to take karate lessons! Wouldn’t that be great? Perhaps I could be a star one day. Samphos, do you want to join me?” Samphos sighed deeply. Money was a problem for her family “I don’t know. I should ask my mother first.” * * * After lunch the three students sat outside, eating cookies. “We’d better go.” Rith said. “Ok, thanks for today,” said Samphos. “Samphos, tomorrow, do you want to go to register for summer class with me? I can come to pick you up.” Said Bopha. “Um… eh… I have to ask my mum. So can you wait for after tomorrow?” replied Samphos. “Ok, no problem,” said Bopha. Bopha and Rith headed off. Samphos thought, I hope mother will be OK to pay for my summer class. * * * The next day, early in the morning, Samphos and her mother traveled by moto to deliver baked goods to different shops. This tiring work took all morning, but with Samphos to help it was a bit easier. Samphos’ mother also collected money for that week’s sales. “Mum, eh... next year, I’ll be in grade 12. Do you think I should have summer class to prepare myself for this important grade?” asked Samphos. 47 “Sure, you should have it, but...”, Samphos’ mother said. “We should take the rest of these cookies to the Old Market this afternoon, and collect money from the sell- ers. So you will have enough money for this summer class,” she smiled. “Don’t worry Mother,” Samphos says. “I will take them this afternoon”. Her moth- er smiled again. “OK!” After lunch, Samphos set out on her bike to the Old Market. “I’m sorry Samphos,” says one lady, “but we have to pay some extra fees this month.” “The tax has gone up, Auntie?” Samphos asked curiously. “No, no… to be a seller you must take the good with the bad. There are some ‘unofficial’ fees I must pay. This is just the way of life as a seller. So I won’t be able to pay you for all the cookies for this last week.” Samphos continued around the market. Each person had a similar story. “I’m sorry, but the price of business is going up. Can you reduce the price of your cookies?” “Thank you for the cookies, maybe we can pay next week.” “I’m, sorry, we had extra payments to make.” “I’m so sorry, my costs are getting higher.” After distributing all the cookies, Samphos sat down at a sugarcane juice stand and had a drink to refresh herself. Then she counted her money. There was a lot less than usual. This was very upsetting. What would she tell her mother? It could be a big problem for the family. Her class! It seemed so far away now. What would she tell her family? What would she tell her friends? Samphos felt both sad and afraid to face them. She sat at the cane juice stand a long time, thinking of what to do. END OF PART ONE Can YOU write the conclusion? 48 Please send your comments and suggestions to: Our Books You can also send mail via the provincial offices of these organizations: - Khmer Youth and Social Development Organization (KYSD) © Our Books 2006 Address: #1BEo, Steet. 338, Sangkat Toul Svay Prey #32 Street 184 I, Khan Chamkarmon, Phnom Penh. Khan Daun Penh P.O. Box 988, Phone: 012 798 488 Phnom Penh, Cambodia. - People Center for Development and Peace (PDP) Phone: 855-23 223 242 Address: #135A, Street 259, Sangkat Toeuk Laak I, email@example.com Khan Toul Kok, Phnom Penh. www.siewphewyeung.org.kh Phone: 016 828 211 Contents are copyrighted and may not be reproduced without express permission in writing from Our Books, excepting short passages in connection with a review. Printed in Cambodia by 3DGraphics Publishing ISBN: 99950-853-0-5 Supported By This publication is made possible by the generous support of the Danish Government through the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA). The contents are the responsibility of Our Books and do not necessarily reflect the views of Danida or PACT. Life's Choices Samphos, Bopha and Rith have been close friends since childhood. This school year, they are learning together in grade 11E at Kompong Spean Senior High School. Rith has taken interest (along with many other boys) in Dany, one of the most popular girls in class. Dany is not only a pretty girl, but also a strong-willed and hard working person. Unlike Dany, Rith is a quiet student. What can he do to set himself apart from the crowd? Samphos and Bopha are only too happy to help their friend. What is the special formula, then, to win over a beautiful girl's heart?