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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Man About Town: 14 Feb 2014

Man About Town: 14 Feb 2014

DOMESTIC SORCERY APPRENTICESHIP
Panic in the Man About household: what seemed a simple bout of domestic bickering – or bitchin’ in the kitchen to borrow from Leonard Cohen – turned out to be domestic sorcery. At least so said Herself.

Some weeks back Man About had first been told by Herself that the house may harbor evil spirits after an argument had broken out, and the answer then had been to accompany her to a pagoda at the back of Angkor Wat, strip down, sit on a ledge overlooking the forest and be doused by buckets of water thrown by chanting monks as part of a cleansing ceremony while watching monkeys scurry back from their morning gig of harassing hapless tourists.

But shortly after, Herself declared that this hadn’t done the job. Her sister had been studying her and saw a look in her face that suggested she was in the grip of a spell cast by a sorcerer in the pay of an envious woman. Consensus was that a vindictive bitch – most probably a former good friend who was angry after being denied a loan – had planted an evil talisman somewhere within the house where it couldn’t be found.

Countering this necessitated a quick trip by Herself to a powerful sorcerer in the provinces and she returned with two talismans –one, a little red piece of cloth covered in symbols (a yon) which was slipped under the pillow slip. The other was supposedly very powerful: gristle taken from the base of a pure black dog’s dick. Using this as a sort of Geiger counter, Herself waved the grisly gristle over some indoor plants that could possibly harbor the evil eye.

Srei Srei, a longtime friend and apparently an expert in sorcery, dropped by to consult and warned that the Vindictive Bitch suspected of cursing the house was known to have connections to the Cham, who have the most powerful sorcerers that can cast spells that kill. But invoking such a spell is a double-edged sword. If the person asking the sorcerer to cast a deadly spell has done bad things, he or she will also die when the person against whom the spell is cast dies. So the hope is that the Vindictive Bitch wasn’t stupid enough to take this step.

A generalised discussion about Cham spells ensued and Srei Srei explained that her dad, a Big Guy in Phnom Penh, dumped his first wife, Srei’s mother, and remarried a Cham who used her devious powers to bewitch the Big Guy to marry her.

She also had the power to tame the Big Guy who used to have a face as fierce as a tiger’s – he was quick to anger and when angry would shoot his pistol into the ground and slap his wife.

Shortly after his marriage to the Cham, the family was present when he again lost it, firing his pistol into the ground near his new wife’s feet. She was so shocked she ran away and hid for a couple of days.

But the second time he fired the pistol, she just smiled and was seen calmly heading off to the Cham quarter where she was suspected of consulting a sorcerer to make the Big Guy become a good guy. And it worked, or so local legend goes. He no longer has a face like a tiger, no longer shoots his gun in the house and even does loving things like cooking for the family.

That was Srei Srei’s story anyway, and when Man About hinted at skepticism, Herself tartly retorted that she knows barangs don’t believe in such things, but noted that she also knows that barangs have their own sorcery. “You barang do this,” she said, making the sign of the cross Can’t argue with that.

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