written & illustrated by Chakriya PHOU
At the Cannes Film Festival, a lot of stars walked on red carpet. They showed their outfits and awesome figures. The photographers and medias were busy taking photos for their website/news.
It was special year for Cambodia, an actress, Sarinna was invited to join the event. She was the first Cambodian who could walk on red carpet in Cannes.
Sarinna did not leave from Limousine or Roll Royce; she came out of Taxi. She wore white gown. No jewelry. The gown was not famous brand nor local. It was just a normal gown, above knees.
Next day, the websites, newspapers, magazines, TV, all around the world including in Cambodia, published about her present in Cannes.
'Poor Actress on Red Carpet'
'Cambodia Poverty Showing Through Sarinna'
'Sarinna Wear A Gown with A Piece of Mud on It'
'We Should Help Cambodia Because They Are Poor'
In Cambodia, the news about her:
'Sarinna Brings Shame to Nation'
'The World Laugh at Cambodia Because of This Actress'
The news were spread on social media. People insulted her via comments:
'Why send this woman to represent our country?'
'If have no money, tell me. I lend you. Don't make Cambodia embarrass.'
'It should be Toyota. Not Taxi.'
'My God, what the hell she is doing?'
'Look beautiful but not appropriate.'
'Fuck. I hate her.'
'How can I face with my clients? They are from abroad. She makes me lose face.'
There were supporters but they did not dare to show their comments. Just talked secretly.
Moreover, TV canceled her from their shows because they were afraid they might lose image because of her.
Back to talk about in France.
Lady Flora, the famous woman in fashion industry. She knew well about fashion, style, design and fashion materials. She was retired.
At present, a magazine in USA asked her to write article and she was curious about what she should write about.
She watched Cannes Film Festival via TV. She knew about Sarinna incident.
Lady Flora was not interested in the gown, but the embroidery on Sarinna's gown collar. She knew it. It was old design, made by hand, about in 1988.
Lady Flora walked to the phone and made call to her close friend; she was manager of famous magazine in Paris.
'Hello, can you do me a favor?'
'Yes, sure, Flora.'
'I want you to ask Cambodian actress where I can find the embroidery same as on her gown.'
'Why don't you meet her face to face? She is in France.'
'She is not in position to talk with me,' Lady Flora smiled.
'I see. OK, I will.'
In late evening, Lady Flora was sitting on sofa, reading fashion magazine. While she raised tea cup to her lips, a phone rang. She got up from sofa to pick up the phone.
'Hello, this is Dominique.'
'I'm sorry. The girl took flight to Cambodia this evening. I did not ask her much but I got a brilliant information for you.'
'What is it?'
Lady Flora was told what her friend got from Sarinna. She opened her eyes big. She was surprised to hear about it.
'Thank you, Dominique.'
Lady Flora put down the phone. She went back to sofa and thought. Her face was little upset but serious. Then she called her assistant to organize flight for her to Cambodia.
Lady Flora arrived at the residence of Sarinna; Dominique had gave her. Her assistant rang the bell. A young girl opened the door. She was Sarinna.
'I am Flora that sent email to you.' Lady Flora introduced herself.
'Jumreap suor.' Sarinna welcomed Lady Flora with traditional Khmer salute. Then the ladies shook hands.
Sarinna brought Lady Flora and her assistant into her house.
She took off her ray ban. Sarinna's house was a villa. It was not big, but it did not make sense she could not support her dress and transportation in the event.
Inside the house, they sat on soft sofa. Sarinna brought glass of drinking water to the ladies.
'Thank you,' Lady Flora said.
'Please wait for a moment. I go up to take the gown for you.'
'Thanks so much.'
Sarinna left for 2 minutes then came back with a gown in her hand. She sat on another sofa next to Lady Flora and handed the gown to the lady.
Lady Flora looked carefully. She touched the embroidery slowly. She smiled. Her eyes were so sweet towards the embroidery.
'I don't know who made it but I am sure it is hand-made and produced in more than 10 years ago. Now, we cannot find it anymore,' Lady Flora said.
'Yes. You are great,' Sarinna stated.
'I heard you bought it from Cambodia and it was from a poor girl. I want to know the story,' Lady Flora turned to her assistant and she handed her the note book. 'Can I record your voice?'
'Yes, of course.'
Lady Flora gave signal and the assistant placed recorder on table.
'I was so happy. It was amazing for me. I felt great. Happy and worried because it was my first time. I have worked in film industry for 2 years and it was my honor to receive such invitation. I was thinking of my dress. I went to many stores. I could not find dress I liked. When I got out of a store, I saw a girl standing on the pavement. She asked everyone walking to buy her gown. I walked pass her. She asked me to buy. I was not interested but I pitied her so I gave her 1$. She refused to take my money and asked me to buy her gown. I said, 'I don't want.' She said, 'My mother is in hospital. I need money to pay for her bill or she cannot get out.' I asked, 'How many is it?' She said, '100$.' I thought she was lying. I thought she was making a scene. I said to her that I would buy her gown in 10$. She shook her head, 'No, it is from my grand mother. If I had a choice, I would not sell it.' I did not believe her. I left. Next day, I found her at market. She was holding the gown and asked the people to buy. No one cared about her.I walked towards her and asked the price. She said, '100$.' I asked her, 'Why don't you sell it over 100?' She said, 'I need only 100 to pay my mother's hospital bill.' I took the gown and I found there was a black mark on it. I asked her to low down the price. She said the mark was blood from her mother's nose. It could not be removed. She begged me to buy her gown. I thought that I might be cheated. At last, I agreed to buy her gown with 100$. She was happy and ran away. I wanted to know she lied or not. I followed her and well she did not lie. Her mother was in hospital. She was cured but she needed to pay for the bill and it was 100$. I asked myself, Being an actress, walking on red carpet, is it necessary to wear expensive dress? So, I chose to wear this gown into the event.'
Lady Flora noted down Sarinna's telling. She never thought she met such movie star. All she has met, the actresses and actors were well dress and their dresses had to be from famous brand or designer.
'Why you took taxi to the event?' Lady Flora asked.
'It was accident. While I did walking at night before the festival day, I found a taxi driverwas robbed. His entire-money was gone. He needed to pay for his son school fee. So, I suggested him to be my chauffeur to the festival.'
'How many did you spend on the taxi?'
'From hotel to the event was 200$?'
'Yes, I gave him to pay the school fee of his son.'
Lady Flora looked at Sarinna. Her eyes showed sincere. She did not make up a story.
'Actually, you are a great. Why don't you explain? Why you let the world laugh at you?'
'Is it needed to tell the world? I don't think so. What I do because I think it is right to do.The world is full of acting people. I don't want to be one of them,' She claimed.
Lady Flora looked to the eyes of Sarinna. She looked straight into hers. She was loyal. Lady Flora could feel it. She did not lie. It was from her heart.
Lady Flora thanked Sarinna and said to her before she left, 'What title should I put?'
'To be on red carpet,' Sarinna suggested.
Lady Flora smiled and said goodbye.
On the way back to hotel, she smiled.
Lady Flora returned to France. She finished her article and sent to the magazine.The story was touched. Pictures of Sarinna was on the magazine of USA, written by Lady Flora.
The world was shaken again by the media, same medias had insulted Sarinna.
'Sarinna, Wise Asean Actress'
'Cambodian Actress Is A ive God'
'Kind and Knowledgeable Actress'
'The Only Actress of Pureness'
The comments were changed too:
'Oh god, she is pretty and has good heart.'
'I am inspired by her.'
'This is Cambodian girl.'
'Cambodian woman is beautiful.'
'We are proud of you, Sarinna.'
Lady Flora was invited to USA to give interview on her article.
She said, 'I once said she was not in position to talk with me. But when I met her, I am, instead, who is not in position to talk with her. The title of the article, I credit to her.'