Sok lived in a country that was corrupt. Life had not been more difficult for her in her entire life living in the same country. It had been a year since the corruption began and she was living in what felt like hell. She had been a healthy and educated young woman before the corruption all began. She was now very ill for many reasons.
"Everybody, get up now, its time to start working!" a soldier called out before the sun was out. Sok got out of her hammock where she had slept for barely a few hours. Like everyone else who was forced to work in the fields, she was in a rush to get ready and get going despite the lack of rest. This was because she was afraid of being punished or even killed by the soldiers. It was for this same reason that no one complained.
Knee-deep in the water in the rice field Sok worked as hard and as quickly as she could. Many thoughts ran through her mind as worked, many questions that she'd probably never be able to answer. "Why is this happening to me? What did I do to deserve such a difficult lifestyle?"
She was exhausted from all the work and paused to watch the others at work. A lot of them worked more quickly and were able to do a better job than her. This was probably because many of them had been farmers in rural areas before the corruption began so were more used to this type of work.
"You there! Get back to work you lazy pig!" The soldier on duty shouted at Sok.
"Sorry," Sok said quietly and continued to work.
A meal time had finally arrived and with great relief Sok and everyone else that worked on the fields went to eat what little amount of food was distributed to them. Sok got a small bowl and went to line up to get some of the food, which was a watery gruel made from a small amount of rice and a large quantity of water, and a bit of salt.
Each person, regardless of age or size was only allowed to have the one bowl of gruel. As a result all the people who were used to eating more were left to starve, and sadly Sok had witnessed many people starve to death during the year, and it was sad knowing that she could be next.
After the meal Sok and the others were forced to go back to the fields to work. Sok worked as hard as she could despite her lack of energy. As she worked she started to feel strange, the world around her seemed to be spinning and then she felt herself falling.
"Look, that woman, the one whose body is swollen, seems to be waking up," Sok heard a female voice say. Then she realised that she was in a room and on a small bed surrounded by other beds with sick people. It then occurred to her that this was the 'hospital' and that the voice she heard was most likely one of the nurses on duty.
"Eat this," A nurse said as she handed over a bowl of broth. Sok took it but with great difficulty as her whole body was swollen due to lack of nutrients.
As she ate the broth, the nurse told her bluntly, "You're going to die." Sok did not want to believe that this was the truth, however being in the hospital with her body so swollen it could barely move, it was hard not to believe the nurse.
For many days she lay in the bed all day and cried and ate the broth that was given to her and the other sick people, once a day. She wanted to move, she wanted to live, but at the rate she was going it did not seem possible. Sok could tell just by the way everyone looked at her that they were just anticipating her death and they told her many times after the first time that she would die.
However, despite her body being swollen and weak, one day she decided she would get up and walk. It took a lot of effort on her part, especially with no assistance from anyone, to get out of bed and stand up, but she did so against all odds.
As soon as she walked outdoors she was approached by a soldier who asked in a harsh tone, "Where do you think you're going?"
"I'm going for a walk," Sok replied.
The soldier looked at her swollen body and decided to let her walk around the hospital ground, "If you get better," he stated, "you'll have to go back to work in the rice fields with everyone else."
She walked very slowly, one step at a time, to nowhere in particular. Each step took tremendous effort, but she was determined to get better. From that day onwards, she would get up, and walk each and every day. It became easier as the swelling of her body seemed to be reduced.
Eventually she was able to move more freely, and although she had not made a full recovery, and was still relatively unhealthy, she was forced to work in the rice fields again, by the soldiers.
Sok knew that life would be hard for the following few days, possibly even the following few weeks and months, but had hope that life would be better in the distant future, so she went to work in the fields, with this hope in her heart.