It had been one of those ideal, late summer Sundays. A full cooked breakfast after coming to, then reposing gently in contemplation of nothing to do. Over my second coffee whilst sitting on the porch observing the silent courtyard, a couple of the girls
had passed on their way to the shop at the hospital and I’d asked them to bring me back a ‘Post’.
Rob and I split the newspaper on their return and as the sun was rapidly going over the yardarm somewhere on the planet, we got in a couple of beers then silently contemplated the news and funnies.
Time passed and Rob wandered away to see what was happening down by the canal so I picked up the crossword section to wander into my room to get horizontal and maybe study the clues.
My door was open, the mango tree beside it cast a pleasant shadow and the soft noises from outside gently lulled me into a gentle doze dreaming of greens and rivers.
I woke about three judging by the length of the shadows outside and after a leisurely stretch got on my feet and walked to the door.
All was quiet and not a soul to be seen in the courtyard as the inhabitants had presumably gone indoors for their afternoon snooze. Except Noot, who was sitting in Robin’s director’s chair on the porch and seemed preoccupied by something as she stared into the middle distance.
I slipped on my flip flops and made my way to the shop where I helped myself to a bottle of beer and marked a 1 under the C for my name as old Kay was asleep then returned to the yard.
I mounted the steps to the porch and stretched out full length on the bench there, a convenient cushion serving as a pillow between my back and the corner post. Noot put her feet up on the bench and nudged my legs across a bit as she stretched then turned her gaze to the wooden roof above her, a sigh escaping her lips as she did so. Noot was o.k., she liked a laugh, was large framed for an Isaan girl and kept herself pretty much to herself in her room round the back.
She had a Belgian boyfriend of sorts but when money was tight would sometimes turn a blind eye to this fact and she worked in the same beer bar down the street with the other girls resident.
It was unusual for her to sit on the porch-preferring to sit on the benches provided outside her room which were in continual shade and the scene of less noise and mayhem.
I wriggled my toes a bit, had a swig of beer then closed my eyes. Just warm, heavy and totally relaxed……..Who needs mortgages and new cars when this is available for a fraction of the cost?
Some colourful large insect droned past, the solitary moving thing it appeared, the sound of it’s passing seeming loud in the absence of any other noise.
My eyes opened as I tracked the insect’s passing, hoping that it wouldn’t be attracted to my sugary beer and involve a possible sting. Asian beastie stings hurt a lot in my experience.
“Mango trees are ever so green,”, sprung into my mind then my thoughts were diverted as I heard a sniff from Noot’s direction.
Turning my head to her, I saw a tear slowly roll down her cheek and asked, ”Hey Noot-what’s wrong?”. (Mii Arai).
She shook her head by way of reply so I turned my eyes to contemplation of the building we were sitting in: It is difficult to date traditional Thai wooden dwellings as like the woodsman’s axe, parts are replaced with new items of the same materials. The basic design has changed little since goodness knows when; why change something if it works alright?
I shuffled my shoulders a bit to get more comfortable then glanced at Noot once more to notice trickles of tears slowly running down her cheeks.
“What are you thinking Noot?”, (Noot, kiit arai ), I asked once more and again she shook her head then leaned forwards to put her head on her knees then began to shake as she silently sobbed.
That put a whole new perspective on what had been up until then a fairly ideal afternoon so I sat up and put my arm around her and said, ”Hey-hey Noot. It’s me remember?”.
Before long she sat erect and gave me a half smile then said, ”My mother says to go work in Pattaya. More go-go, more farang to sleep with, more money for mother”.
My temper briefly flared but as quickly subsided; One thing that you soon learn in S.E. Asia is that if you can’t change something, then don’t worry about it.
If you did you’d soon end up a basket case.
She silently wept again, chewing her lip as she did so and I stupidly asked the obvious question, “What, your mother wants you to work in a bar in Pattaya?”
She nodded and replied, ”More farang-more money”
I had a long pull at my bottle of beer and thought about a mother pimping her daughter for a new TV or a late model pick up truck.
Arguing the case was a waste of time. Daughters do what they are told you see. I could only wonder as I lay back and contemplated the blue of the sky, the shade of the porch, the warmth and the warm feeling from the beer as the leaves rustled gently in an all too brief breeze.
Noot sniffed a little as I looked at my toes and felt sad. So sad for her. And for me.
Her mother had ruined my Sunday too………