—the best gift from Indochina, a letter from a young girl whose dinner I bought on my last night in Cambodia.
Very nice to meet you. My name is mai. I give you flower for souvenir. I hope you like my flower. Thank you come to Cambodia. I’am very happy to meet you. you are very nice and friendly. I wish you good luck with your job and all your family. you have very nice smile I like your smile. I hope to see you again.
A flower was drawn on the back, with the words forever happy, flower for free, for souvenir, for you, for goodluck, written around its petals. I remember her, and I remember she was very secretive about writing this, and wouldn’t let me see it until she had finished. When I pulled it out of my bag a few days later it took me a moment to recall the history of such a beautiful thing while surrounded by such ugliness.