Girls After School

written by Chakriya PHOU

When I was at school, I had one close friend.
When we finished grade 12, I went to university and she got married and went to live with her husband at province.
At that time, only old people had cell phone; young like us did not have so we lost contact.
Then I moved to new house.
Years passed.
One day, in year before 2010, but I did not remember well, I met her father by accident. I asked for her phone number and I called her. She was glad to hear from me and we made appointment to meet at her house two days later.
I was so excited to meet my old friend.
I got her home at 2 PM. She was pretty like when she was at school. Well, different thing was dress, because we were adult now. And she wore jewelry. Full. Ear-rings, necklace, wrist lace and five rings. They were all expensive.
I started by asking how was she. She replied she was well. I questioned her how many children she got and she said she had 3 children, all boys.
Then I let her ask me.
She asked me what was my job. I told her I worked. She asked me how much I earned. I told her my salary. She asked I did business beside of working or not. I replied No. Then she looked at my body. She touched my ears and said, 'You do not wear ear-rings.' I said I did not like. She looked at my fingers. No ring. After, she found me wore only a watch. She caught my hand and asked me its price. I told truth that I bought myself and I forgot the price. Moreover, she asked I married or not yet. I said not yet. She asked me I had boyfriend or not and my boyfriend was rich or poor. I said I did not have boyfriend etc.
I felt she was changed.
When she was at school, she was gentle, shy and innocent. Now, she was so aggressive and jealous. She asked me a lot of questions. I noticed most of them related to money. She wanted to check if I was richer than her or not. And she liked to compare.
I planned to have dinner with her, but when I saw she was not my old friend anymore, I used excuse to leave after chatting with her half an hour. She did not stop me. I left her house for my home.
About one week later, she called me in early morning, 'Nika, go to Preah Vihear with me. Where is your house? I go to take you.' 
I surprised to hear that. I asked her, 'What's matter?' Then she told, 'I and my relatives go to Preah Vihear province. We got information that the government would make road to the province so we go to buy land there in low price and sell to government when they build road in high price.' Hearing that did not attract me because I did not have interest in that field. I said to her, 'Thank friend, but I don't have money.' I thought she would ending call when she heard I had no money, but she tried to convince me, 'Just 100 USD, you can buy big land and you can sell to the government more than 5,000 USD. You are my friend. I got chance to be rich and I think of you. Come with me. If you don't have money, borrow me. I have car and I sponsor everything in this trip.' Even though, I did not have interest, 'Sorry friend, I don't want. Thanks for thinking of me. I prepare to go to work now. Thanks again.'
She knew she could not win so she said goodbye.
I still had doubt why she was so kind like this. So, I asked a lot of people then I got her idea.
It was true it had information that government would build road from Phnom Penh to Preah Vihear province. People who had money thought of invest to buy forest land there and hoped to sell when the project road was on their lands. My friend was smart. She collected poor relative or friend to go with her. She acted she was kind that she wanted to share profit to all of them, but in her mind, she planned already. She bought some land and she lend them to buy lands next to her. Then she asked them to pay her after one or two months. If they did not have money to pay her back, she told them to pay land to her in low price, lower than original price. Few friends, that were our classmates when we were at high school, told me. They went with her and fell into her trick. They said they got empty hands at the end, gave land to her and paid cash to her in small amount. After hearing that, I was so happy that I refused with her or I would be her bridge crossing the lake.
After that, I did not hear anything about her.
One day, she called me at night. She begged me to buy her house. I was so confused. I asked her and she told me her husband had money problem and she needed to sell house to help him. She told me, she had three houses, she was living in one house and wished to sell other two. I said sorry that I did not have money. She asked me to find customer for her. I said I did not know anyone. She said bye sadly.
Then I made call to other friends and got information about her. It was not her husband had money problem, it was her. She invested all money to buy lands in Preah Vihear. Yes, she cheated friends and relatives and got lands but the road government planned to build was not in her land area, it meant she got nothing from this investment. Furthermore, those two houses she wanted to sell were house-loaning and she needed to pay loan more two years.
It was called Karma.
If she was not too ambitious, she would not meet that day.
I have learnt from her that I should not embrace mountain as my hands were short.
From that night, she called few times then she did not contact me anymore after I did not accept her call. Our friendship was ended since then.

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