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Manoa 16.1 (2004) 41-47

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Sokha and Apopeal

Translation by John Marston

When Sokha was six years old, his father gave him a mother cow to take care of. This cow's name was Chompa. She had colored patches of yellow and brown and two tiny horns.

Every day after school, Sokha took Chompa to graze in the clover fields and along the rice paddies. And before nightfall, he would lead Chompa back to the stable. Then he would wash up. He would clean his hands and feet, put on fresh clothes, and eat with the rest of the family.

One day when Sokha came back home from school, he discovered that Chompa had given birth to a boy calf. He gave it the name Apopeal because it was covered with brown and white patches. He was very happy that Apopeal had joined them. Apopeal couldn't walk far because he was still small.

A month later, Apopeal could walk beautifully, just as well as his mother, Chompa. She still suckled him. When Sokha went to school, he let Chompa and Apopeal out to graze with the other cows. When he got back from school in the evening, he led the two of them to the clover fields. There in the clover field, Apopeal liked to sleep next to Sokha, and Sokha would stroke the calf's head, neck, back, and tail. Chompa ate a lot of clover so that she'd have enough milk for Apopeal.

Once after Apopeal had been sleeping for a long time and resting under Sokha's gentle caresses, his mother wandered far away to look for clover. Waking, Apopeal got up to look for his mother, and when he didn't see her, he cried, "Moo! Moo! Moo!" When Apopeal's mother heard his distant cry, she quickly returned to him. And when he saw her, he ran to her and started nursing. Before sunset, Sokha always led Chompa and Apopeal back to the house.

One Sunday, Chompa was stricken by a serious illness. Since it was not possible for Sokha's family to get the medicine she needed, she died. The next morning, Apopeal did not see his mother, so he got up to go to the field. When he finally found her, he cried, "Moo! Moo! Moo!" His mother did not stir at all. Sokha's father told him to take Apopeal far away from his mother. Sokha saw tears flowing from Apopeal's eyes and cried hard, too. [End Page 41] [Begin Page 43]

From that time on, Apopeal could not nurse as he had before. When his mother died, he was only five months old. Sokha's father bought milk so they could feed Apopeal by hand. Apopeal would not live long if he didn't have milk to drink.

Every morning, Sokha got up early to give Apopeal milk. Then he fed him a little straw. And every afternoon, he led Apopeal to the clover fields where he used to take him and his mother. He stroked Apopeal's head tenderly and fed him fresh clover by hand.

Apopeal was now a year old. He no longer needed milk and could eat hay as his mother had. He was still small, however, so Sokha's father did not let him wander very far. In the late afternoon, Apopeal would stand by the fence, waiting for Sokha to come back from school and lead him to the clover field. In the field, Apopeal was very happy because he could run, jump, and wander. When he got tired, he would return and sleep next to Sokha, who would stroke him.

They were good friends.

When Apopeal was five years old, he was full grown. His horns spread out on each side of his head, and his legs were heavy and strong, so he could run very fast. Every morning, Sokha tied Apopeal near the school and let him graze. And after school, Sokha would ride home on Apopeal's back.

In the hot season, Sokha took Apopeal to bathe in...


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