G’s Work

February 14, 2014

Graham Lawrence now has a personal and professional website set up. It can be viewed by clicking the link on his name.

This website mostly covers his non-writing work although it does mention his upcoming e-book which will even feature a story or two from the Tales from the Village series.

A Start and an End

August 15, 2010

With the new notion of perpetual writing which this author fully subscribes to and sees as natural, all works will now be posted straight to the confusionism blog by this author and indexed under the G’s Writing page. Writings categorized in traditional ways as intended on this blog will no longer be added to.

Check confusionism or G’s Writing for additions which will be made in the natural way as the stream of creativity flows.

Thank you.

G

Drinking Beer with a Gunman in a Temple at a Funeral

February 19, 2010

As I walked through the temple to the kitchen area where the women were gathered preparing the food for the evening offering and meal on the third and final day of my mother-in-laws funeral rites, I noticed uncle Nim sat on the floor of the kitchen with two other men. One in his usual farming garb was Daeng from the house opposite my moth-in-laws with his easy smile. The other I didn’t know. He wore cleaner and more expensive clothes and had several baht of gold hanging around his neck. His nails were clean and he was clean shaven. They were half way through three big bottles of Leo beer.

Uncle Nim always friendly towards me and in reality friendly towards anyone whop was family or even not as long as they didn’t commit the cardinal sin of saying anything bad about anyone in his family invited me over. After spending two entire days in the temple I was pretty accustomed to now sitting crossed leg on the floor for long periods, something I had not been accustomed to on first arrival. I sat and took the proffered glass. Honoured as was the stranger to be offered beer in a glass rather than the metal mugs Uncle Nim and Daeng were using. As was it seemed the custom at such family and friend gatherings there were no introductions just sitting quietly and supping on the beer with the occasional word almost whispered.

The already half finished three bottles were quickly dealt with and the stranger produced some money and despatched Daeng off to get some more. He quickly returned and on his return Uncle Nim quickly made his apologies and rose leaving us. It was not often I had seen Uncle Nim take leave of a party situation and especially one in which friends and family were in abundance. The quiet drinking continued which considering the state of my ability ion Thai in those days was not something I minded. Spending two and half days in a temple with few people who even spoke two words of English aside form my own wife taught you to be happy and calm with you own quietitude and calm and I actually suspect language aside just spending several days in a temple had that affect on anyone. It was a place that seemed to cry out for quiet and self-consideration outside of the almsgiving times.

The next three bottles seemed to disappear quickly as the stranger relaxed and started to joke with the Kamnan’s wife who was overseeing the preparations for the evening food. A light heady atmosphere prevailed in this sanctum of the women with our small group as the only men to have penetrated it. The stranger was clearly popular with all the women and his attentions soon had laughter permeating the kitchen. Through it all Daeng sat now looking uncomfortable. His eyes always darted around when he felt this way, and when I suggested he go buy three more bottles he was clearly relieved. While away the jesting and laughter carried on with the women clearly giving back as much as they got.

Daeng arrived back with the bottles and sat down opposite me. The stranger was still distracted but soon with a lull in the conversation he was back with us opening and distributing the beer. Daeng at this point was able to make his excuses and leave. The stranger and I sat quietly both smiling and relaxed but with not a word said and drank the beer slowly. Every now and again this quiet ritual would be broken with a comment thrown at or by the stranger usually followed by good natured laughter. After staying in the temple for so long time had really no meaning and it was hard to gauge any period but this lasted for what seemed a long time. It was a happy interlude from not really knowing what was going on around me in the customs and rites associated with a traditional northern funeral in Thailand.

However, all things end and this one ended when my wife came over and whispered to me. He has many things to do tonight and needs to go and get ready, so it is time to say goodbye and go. After a short time of drinking a final glass of beer I rose and said it was time for me to shower and bade my farewell to the man whose name I had still not learned. On leaving I walked with my wife and asked her what he had to do tonight and she told me that he had a full night of gambling to get through at the temple. It was a tradition that gamblers would attend funerals in temples and stay around all night gambling and awake while others slept. Whether this was intended to ward off spirits, was to make up numbers or was just a safe haven from police I never found out. My wife also as we walked away asked me if I knew who that was. I of course said no. “Oh that is the gunman I told you about”. But that is another story.

Wan’s Story – Excerpt Two

February 14, 2010

The taste of freedom provided by time in the town was nice but it was a taste and both me and my boyfriend of then M wanted more. It was also built on a lie of attending school every day but in fact not and with exams and end of term coming rapidly a change was needed. The succession of old men to fuel the freedom was not really a problem in finding or in engaging with but that too couldn’t go on forever. That was not a career I wanted to pursue.

So one day with our bags filled with clothes and a few thousand baht saved it was off to the bus station. M had some friends and family working in a factory in Bangkok and it was off to Bangkok we were going. Bangkok was busy. Cars, people, dogs and more and more all the time. There seemed little time to see it. It was hot and dusty and full of shops and department stores that lit up at night. M’s brother Ice and a few others shared a one room studio apartment. There were six of them and the two if us. It was to be crowded. It wasnt like the places I had seen on the TV soap operas. But we were free and young and excited. Some of those staying in the room worked night shifts and others day shifts so there were never 8 of us sleeping at one time, but it was still crowded and sometimes filled with argument. There was no privacy.

Work in those days was easy to find in a factory but hard with long hours and poor wages made good with lots of overtime. Still it was for me a better form of life than selling my body which was not a good thing to do. So I was for a while happy. I was also in love with M I thought. I didn’t like to think of family at home missing me and not knowing where I had gone, so I kept my mobile phone off most of the time and when turning it on quickly flicked through missed calls without looking. Later that week I changed my number.

It was not long before M and I moved onto become security guards with a supplied room to live in. It was nice to have our own place and be together and have enough money to live. Seventeen in love and with our own small home and away from anyone telling us what we should do. The lies and dishonesty were also gone and it all seemed perfect to me.

Family

February 12, 2010

Nim was a family man. Like many poor farmers in the villages or rural Thailand he held strong beliefs. All he lived for were his wife, daughters, nephews and any other member of the extended family. Not a wealthy man and one who was blighted by every farming venture he tried turning to dust in his hands but one who surrounded by family remained happy and upbeat.

Now a few years ago it just so happened that Nim’s latest venture into a new piece of farming machinery or was it a new crop had gone disastrously and predictably wrong resulting in another pressing debt that needed to be paid off. It wasn’t a time of year when work was plentiful in Uttaradit, so being illiterate the only option was a trip to one of the building sites of central Thailand for months of daily toil until enough was saved to cover the lost farm investment. Leaving the family would be hard but having the family land repossessed would only leave them landless and forced to leave the village, so there was no option. Tum, Nim’s friend, recommended a site in Rayong in the industrial east of the country where they could both go.

That is where Nim went. A temporary career move meaning a shared corrugated tin hut with 20 others and daily minimum wages, but Nim through life had learned to live on little and could eat all day on what others would view as scraps. It would take less than a year and there was the Songkhran holiday or Thai New Year during which everyone had a few days off and went home. Work was hot hard and debilitating and tired nights just sleep, but time went quickly and Songkhran was approaching quickly. Tum then one day approached Nim and said that he had a chance to go home and be with his family and not stuck so far from home. Of course Tum needed help. Not help with money as Tum had some of that but he needed someone to just guarantee him with a thumb print and he could get his hands on a second hand car which would of course open the doors for making money back home. Well of course Nim wasn’t one to keep a man from his family and duly gave his backing to the scheme and Tum was back to Uttaradit to get the car and start a new chapter in his life.

One day closer to the advent of Songkhran the kids of the village noticed a stranger in the village. They quickly ran to the adjacent farmland and got their parents. Strangers were rare and usually bad news in the village. Quickly confronted, this man in a shirt and slacks and with no dirt under his nails, looking more like an office worker or teacher than someone who should be treading the unpaved dust track of the first soi of the village, told the story. Tum had put a down payment on this car and then with keys in hand hadn’t been seen again and certainly hadn’t made any other payments. Now it was time if Tum couldn’t be found for Nim to settle the outstanding amount.

Not exactly over aware of any legal complexities it was still apparent to auntie Yom, Nim’s long suffering wife, that something needed to be done. That silly husband of hers making sure others were happy without thinking. Now the land would be gone very soon without action. So it was get the kids and nephews and nieces searching for Tum  and the missing car before it was too late but with Songkhran approaching rapidly another more pressing issue needed resolving. Nim was coming home in only a few days and there was no way the village gossip mill would not inform him of the news.

There was no option. Auntie Yom was on the first bus to Rayong on the long circuitous all stops journey. Nim was surprised to see his wife walk into the camp unannounced immediately thinking it could only mean the worst. No phone call but a visit. It must be serious. However, on learning that his wife who knew how hard he worked for everyone back home and didn’t want to see him waste his time travelling when she could spend time with him there and of course joking about checking he had no new women, Nim was somewhat mystified but it did spare him a long journey and in only another couple of months he would have the money for his debt repayment and that would be all over. Then he would have plenty of time for family. It was the first and only time Nim and his wife had spent time away and alone together. It was a good and different Songkhran.

Meanwhile the whole entourage had spread far ands wide looking for Tum. It wasn’t long after the holiday that the car was seen outside a village casino, which sounds grand but basically means a wooden shack at which people know to go to gamble. A quick phone call to the man and the car was gone freeing uncle Nim from his obligation and leaving a somewhat embarrassed Tum to decide that leaving the village for a short or maybe long while was a good decision.

A few months later Nim returned with the good news that he was now in a position to rid the family of the debt and everyone could relax and be together again. He was happy to be back and it was good to be with those close to him again. Sometime, he thought he must walk round to Tum’s house and see how his plans had worked out, but now was time to catch up on those closest to him.

Wan’s Story – Excerpt One

February 5, 2010

The following is an excerpt from a story told to me by a 27-year-old woman in Bangkok. It is pretty much as told without embellishment or any attempt to change the style of a simply told story. Further excerpts will follow. The story belongs to Wan and not to me.

I was brought up in the village. A small farming village in northern Thailand. I attended the local school until grade 9 and was about top of the class. By that time I had a boyfriend. I kept it quiet. Like all small farming villages mine was very conservative and as kid and teenager I could not do anything that wasnt approved of by my family, and they judged everything. That was not different for other kids. We didn’t know any different and didn’t even really have the opportunity to do things our leaders didn’t like anyway.

To complete school I was to head to the town twenty or thirty kilometers away. Village schools then and even now rarely teach beyond grade 9, so to complete high school it was off to the town. On my first few days at the new school I soon realised that being top in the village school didn’t mean top in the town school. In fact I was bottom of every class by a long way. What was taught in the village and town were different. Very different.

Not used to the humiliation of being able to understand little of what was going on I soon found other attractions in the town. Interesting shops selling things I would love to have, roller skating, ice cream parlours, video games, and then there were the drugs although I had already started them a little in the village. The good thing was that none of my family were in the town. They were all farmers or worked a long way away, so there was nobody to tell me what was good, bad or what I should or shouldnt do or think. The bad thing was that everything cost money and my ten baht a day was for a cheap school meal and wouldn’t pay for anything.

Another thing I discovered though was that there were old men who were always around who were interested in girls. I had already had sex with my boyfriend so doing it with an old man who didn’t know where my village was, and who didn’t know my family was easy. That took care of the money needed. I already had the trip to town and time as I wasnt going to school anymore.


Graham Lawrence

Publisher, Editor, Teacher, Trainer, Designer and Educational Administrator

Eastlit

Creative Writing, Literature and Art focused on East and South East Asia

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An infusion of Steak, Pasta and Thai.

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Beyond Post-Modernism