My dearest Sombath,
It is already two years since you were so rudely taken away from me on that fateful night of 15 December 2012. I can tell you that over the past two years, I don’t know how many times my mind went back to that moment when you walked into Saoban Shop where I was and said, “Let’s go home”. I remembered answering “OK”, picked up my things, and we got into our respective cars and headed for home, except you never arrived home.
Sombath, over the last two years, I kept wondering, could things have been different, if I had not taken our family car that day to go out first, leaving you to drive your beaten-old jeep to go for your usual evening ping-pong game with your ping-pong teacher? Then we would have been riding in the same car, and even if we were to be captured that night, we would at least be together. Or, what would have happened, if we had gone out for a beer together before going home, as we so often did on weekend nights. Then, maybe, just maybe, the people who laid in wait for you would tire of waiting and leave the police post before you drove by. After all it was a Saturday evening and most police on duty would leave for home early. Then you would have escaped your cruel fate.
Sombath, I know these are futile thoughts, but I cannot help it that they keep coming back again and again. Maybe, these senseless thoughts will continue to haunt me for the rest of my life.
Frankly, Sombath, I sometimes wonder how I manage to hold myself together through the 730 days that you have been disappeared. When people complement me for being strong, I could only smile a mirthless smile – for what else could I do but to go on? I cannot possibly accept that you have been taken from me without doing anything. I need to find out what happened to you, where you are now, and how to get you returned safely to our family. So I keep urging the Lao leaders to give me answers, and to mobilize all the help I can to persuade the Lao Government to expedite the investigation and resolve your case. I used to think that with the evidence of your capture recorded in the police’s own surveillance camera, it would not be so difficult to trace you and bring you home. But, to my utter disappointment and despair, you are still missing after two years.
Sombath dearest, I often worry that as time passes even your most faithful friends and supporters will tire of pleading your case. Well, at least for now the momentum of support for your return has not diminished. In fact, two years on, more and more people from across the globe are petitioning for you, and more and more concerned governments and human rights groups are calling upon the Lao Government to investigate your disappearance quickly, honestly and openly and bring the perpetrators to justice.
Sombath, you will be pleased to know that to mark the 2nd anniversary of your disappearance, a prayer ceremony was held today at PADETC to bless you and to wish you well. More than a hundred well-wishers turned up, including many of your colleagues, friends, and representatives from the Lao and international development community. Also the US, German, French, Australian Ambassador, and Charge d’Affaires from the EU and other members of the Diplomatic Corp came to show their support.
A number of people, including Monk Sithon, also spoke about your vision of balanced development that places spirituality and value-education at the center of development (Education of the Heart is the Heart of Development). Others also spoke of your gentleness, your openness, and your positive influence on education and youth development. Indeed, it is clear that the power of your ideas have not vanished with you, but they continue to thrive and grow through the work of those who have been either trained or inspired by you.
So, dearest Sombath, I hope this gives you some solace and comfort wherever you are.
Come back soon, my love. I miss you so much.