Prison Passport

Stefan Struik Prison Passport


“Yogurt and Guns”

Mr. Ton was a handsome lad presumably in his late 30’s or early 40’s. He had nothing much to do in life than to drink, and he did it well. During the Khmer new year celebrations, he called me to drink beer with him and some other guards. I could leave the fenced court and join the other guards who were drinking outside and observing the prisoners. I had paid for this beer for the guards to enjoy, but I also had the opportunity to enjoy a bit of it myself. 

Mr. Ton was a teaser. I remember one time when he was practicing his new handgun. I had no idea what he was doing until he shouted my name, standing at the wooden shed while I was twenty meters away from him, sitting under the tree. I looked up and suddenly saw him aiming his gun at me. I got a big shock. I knew he could be unpredictable, especially when he was drunk. He saw my response, started laughing, and lowered his gun. I walked over to him and asked him if he was crazy. He just smiled and handed the gun to me: “you try? New gun.” I hesitated for a moment. I am not a big fan of guns but I am always in for new experiences. And immediately I was thinking of taking Mr. Ton jokingly as a hostage. But I suspected that mentally he was not stable enough to take it as a joke. I kindly declined.

On other occasions, Mr. Ton was quite helpful. He sympathized with my situation and helped me quite many times. One time as we were on our way to the hospital for a medical check-up in the company of two guards and a few female prisoners, I asked him to stop over at the local gas station where I knew they sold yogurt. They already knew me well at this gas station as a big customer because I always bought the small yogurt packs of 10 or 20 cans from there in the past. This time, I walked inside the shop barefoot, wearing my prisoner outfit and accompanied by Mr. Ton who wore his gun. I still remember when the girls at the counter looked up and saw me. She immediately recognized me and was shocked to see me in the blue prisoner dress. It must have been quite comical for her, seeing one of her biggest yogurt customers walking into the store to purchase yogurt in an undersized prisoner outfit, asking a guard to pay for him.

Meanwhile, Mr. Ton only gave me the money temporarily. Whenever Chanthol came visiting next I got money from him to pay back.

Extraordinary autobiography of a Dutchman who was erased.

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