Ka-kei: An Interpretation of A Traditional Folklore

In the ancient kingdom of the majestic Kampuchea, long before the war–before famine, poverty, and sadness—on sweltering hot nights, when dusk had barely settled beyond the horizon, a waft of heady miasma intoxicated and seduced the restless souls. It is the scent of a beautiful flower that blooms only at night like a maiden tossing her handkerchief to a wandering lustful man.

The flower is notoriously named Ka-kei, very aptly, for in the Khmer language, it means whore.

Once, long ago, in the time of magic, ogres, and talking creatures, there was a crow so ugly and disdainful, humans would toss stones and curse at it to leave their towns, for a crow was a bad sign to the harvest. They could not abide to have one near.

Ashamed and hurt, the crow wandered deep into the forest, running into an ajahn—a learned teacher who took to the ways of a hermit.

“My child,” the ajahn approached the injured crow. “Why does your tears flow thus?”

The crow cried aloud, “It is because I am ugly! Everyone hates me!”

“You are not ugly, child. I see your soul and it is full of beauty.”

“That means nothing! No one looks passed that. Oh, wise teacher, have pity upon me. Grant me one wish before I die.”

“You should not wish in such a fretful state,” the ajahn warned.

“Please,” the crow begged, ignoring the heed. “In my next life, please make me beautiful and have everyone—every creature fall in love with me.”

“Beauty and love in one wish. A dangerous combination, my child.” The ajahn, however, granted the wish before the crow’s last breath.

Years later, in a wealthy town, the fame of one girl caused a stir even to the heavens that angels descended upon Earth to lay eyes on this creature.

Oh, what a beauty Ka-kei was! For that was her name.

Men and women alike were so taken by her beauty, they could not help but fall in love, worshipping and idolizing her. Though born to humble parents, she soon married the wealthiest, albeit, oldest man in town.

Ka-kei’s happiness with being the center of attention did not compare to the lustful thoughts of the demon creature known as the Kroot. It is a winged demon full of salacious manners known for kidnapping young maidens, seducing them down the wrong paths.

So obsessed with Ka-kei, Kroot transformed himself into a charming beautiful young man, intent on seducing this beauty.

Though married, Ka-kei, vain and proud, believed herself immune to sin and karma. In lust, he whisked her away into the night, teaching her the manners of sinful lust until she could not help but beg for more.

Angered by her betrayal to a demon, the people banished her and cursed her to roam the night like the lustful beauty she is but never finding rest and love with one man.

When she died, her famed beauty and lust became the flower that still haunts the night air, subtle to the innocents but heady to the waywards.

Beauty is never the highest form of compliment. It brings on vanity, envy, and lust. True beauty is from the soul and only the good can see to this. The good will comfort, will pity, and will love you even through the hard times—never turning their back on you at a moment’s notice.