My mother came from a poor background. She grew up in a large family of 11 kids, an Italian immigrant father who liked to drink too much and a tired mother. They lived in the city of Metz, in the mining region of Lorraine (France), in the immediate aftermath of the war. It was an unhappy childhood.
One day in class, the teacher pulled a map of the world: today they would study the colonies. This was the start of an imaginary escape from the cold, the gloom and the loneliness. She started dreaming and fantasizing about the far away kingdom of Cambodia. In her autobiography she writes what she imagines:
“Here people live in serenity – they know nothing of the words spite, regret, woe. »
Years later, when she met my Cambodian father in Paris, a student in medicine, she fell in love immediately. Of course it wasn’t love for the man himself, but rather with what he represented, the fantasy of her childhood.
I never met him.
My father is the kingdom of Cambodia.
-Pierpaoli Yvette. Femme aux Mille Enfants – Paris, Robert Laffont, collection “Vecu”, 1992.
– Chau Seng. Les Elites Khmères- Phnom Penh, Preah Sihanouk Buddhist University, Culture et Civilisation Khmere, 1965?