One Step Beyond – Cambodia – People – Keo Vuthy
The accident happened to me in 1982, when I was living in the Pursat Province. It happened at about eight o'clock in the morning, but I don't remember the exact date. I only remember that it was in January 1982. On that day, I took the cow cart to my rice field to cut some rice. My village is far away from the fields. It's about a fifteen-kilometer journey. Halfway, you pass another village and some other fields. The trail is very narrow – it's just wide enough for a cart. And there are fields on one side. On the other side, there is bush and other houses. The fields are in the middle of the forest. We had to cut the trees and bushes and dig out their roots, burning all the wood. Each field is shaped like a box, thirty by forty meters.
When I arrived at the fields, I untied the cows from the cart and let them graze, and then I went to cut rice. The fields were situated in the Khmer Rouge area. They had planted the mine in the ground. I did not reach my rice field. As I walked onto the dike of my field, I stepped on the mine. I walked on that rice field dike every day. But I had never had an accident.
I lost consciousness, but before that, I heard the explosion. I saw the soil and grass being thrown into the air. I was flung about two meters away. At first, I didn't know that I was the one who had stepped on a mine. But then I saw that my leg was shattered – and then I fainted. I couldn't cry out for help, but the people in other fields saw me and came to help.
Before stepping on the mine, I hadn't noticed anything unusual. I felt confident, and I walked on the rice-field dike, which we always crossed, every day. At that time of year, the rice fields are yellow. We call them the golden fields, and they look beautiful. Everything had been normal until I stepped on the mine.