By: Rev. Paul Lai
Translated By: Stephen Li
I Love Yvonne:
Yvonne’s father was a church deacon. In the early days when the church was constructing its building, he volunteered as construction supervisor. As a deacon, he very much loved the Lord and loved people, and was an elderly man with spiritual depth. He was honest and frank, having lost his wife in middle age. For the sake of four young daughters, he insisted on not remarrying. I admired him a lot and got along with him very well. We often did visitation together, and I often went to his home and talked and shared about God’s word.
Every time I visited him, I chose the chair facing the front door, so that when Yvonne returned home from school she would immediately see me. Every time she returned home, she always glanced at me with a smile. Her pure and silent smile plucked the strings of my heart. Sometimes I intentionally delayed my departure just to see her smile. The moment when our eyes met, it was so romantic! As time went on our love for one another grew, and the flame of love burned in our hearts. It was a pity that we did not have the opportunity to be together by ourselves. I could only silently love her in my heart, and dared not express it openly. Firstly, her father was strict. Secondly, girls in those days were reserved and conservative, unlike young people today. Lastly, she was still a student, and was also busy serving as a French tutor.
Once I waited until she finished tutoring and accompanied her on her way home. I invited her to dine at a restaurant serving Western food, but she refused, and would only accept a glass of 7-up, pointing out that I just graduated, had not found a job yet, and that I was not rich. We rarely had the opportunity to be together by ourselves, and did not have time to talk deeply. We could only chat a little, as she had to rush home, in order not to be reprimanded by her father for returning home late. I remember one night I waited until Yvonne finished her English night school and accompanied her on her way home. When we were close to her home, Yvonne suddenly realized that it was the time her father walked his beloved dog. We immediately took another route, or else we might be discovered by her father and be scolded. Every time we only had ten to twenty minutes of walking together. Even though it was not under romantic circumstances, we treasured that very much.
Chinese people in Cambodia in the sixties were quite conservative. If a male and female walked together, or if one rode on a bicycle with someone of the opposite gender, people would think they were lovers. People would gossip that they were dating and discussing marriage. Therefore, parents would not casually allow their children to date.
Met with Strong Opposition from Yvonne’s Father:
Over ten years ago, Yvonne and I went to Paris and visited some brothers and sisters whom we had grown up together with. One of the brothers said to me: “Mr. Low (Yvonne’s father) was very strict, so no one dared to pursue his daughter. You had the courage and were not afraid of being scolded by him. Only you had this courage and perseverance, waiting for love to blossom over a long period of time.” I immediately replied with humour: “If others had the courage to pursue her, then my pursuit might not have succeeded. It was because no one else had the courage to pursue her, while I had, so I was able to get her!”
In fact, her father had scolded me! As a result, I dared not visit her home for a long time. One day her father angrily said to me: “My daughter is focusing on her studies, and this is not the right time for romance. I have asked Yvonne about you. She said she has no intention of taking you. (This was because at that time Yvonne was very afraid of her father, and did not dare to admit.) Do not continue to unrequited love’ in At that time I felt really bad and could only leave feeling dejected, not daring to step into her home again. This was especially so, because just before this incident of being severely rebuked by her father, two pastors had come from the Philippines to Cambodia on a tour, and I brought them to Yvonne’s home as guests. The two pastors asked me to serve as their tour guide for them to see the palace. When Yvonne’s elder sister heard that, she kept saying she wanted to come along. At that time Yvonne was at school. During the sightseeing tour, the two pastors asked me: “Is she (Yvonne’s sister) your girlfriend?” Immediately I denied it and said: “No, it’s her younger sister.” Good grief – her sister also heard that and told her father after she returned home. After he learned about that, he was furious! He immediately tried to clarify with Yvonne, and mercilessly rebuked me,