Rambling of a Submission Writer
• Hua Ting Hotel & Towers Shanghai
• Hua Xia Hotel
• Jian Gong Jin Jiang Hotel
• Jianguo Hotel Shanghai
The intense force of rain has ceased. Nature is a colorless gray and gloomy, waiting for another heavy spell of showers. The sound of light drizzle on the tin roof and the smell of soil awake the child within me. The distant memories and formless emotions is taking shape in mind. And pictures float like a reverie. My wife and son are sleeping. An idle day has been drifting away but with the rumination over past memories the time has matured and the moment has come to express them in words. Thus a story is about to be born.
The first line always is the toughest one to write. I never can think and discover the first line. It always comes spontaneously, triggered by a drifting thought. It’s like suddenly somebody lit the candle and you start seeing things hidden in darkness. The flick of the match is the thought and the flame of the candle is the line. Frankly I don’t have any specific technique. I let my emotions and feelings determine the flow even to the extent of the words. Just like colors express the spirit of a painting the words carry the soul of a story. So if the words come from the heart then they will have the strength to carry the emotions from the heart.
The huge concrete jars placed at the edge of a roof are collecting rain water. These jars are really big, at least ten to twelve feet high. Looking at them I wonder how they were brought and placed there. Did they use some kind of machinery like crane or it was entirely a primitive manual effort. The chickens are out looking for food. They always go in groups, the old ones along with the small babies. They are moving their head back and forth like a wise man except giving opinion. Now the drizzle is so light that the sound on the roof was silent. Only the concentric circular ripples in puddles indicate its existence. It was an ideal day and time for writing. There is no family disturbance since both my wife and son are enjoying their afternoon nap.
“Ching Chok” His siesta is over. He is pointing towards a lizard on the wall. His eyes are so beautifully fresh after he gets up from sleep that it seems he is born again and the world is so strangely wonderful to him and he will have to start knowing it all over again. His eyes remind me of my childhood days about the feelings after I suddenly woke up in a lonely rainy afternoon. For a moment I look at his eyes and try to absorb the exuding innocence. He is just a three year old possibility. At this age his Thai is far better than mine. I wonder how he picks up the words and uses them aptly without asking their meaning. Sometimes it’s frustrating to catch up with him.
“Don’t worry, you have more courage than your mother.” Yes, my wife is really scared of lizards. Once in a hotel in Chiang Rai she came out of shower screaming and crying. I was shocked and wondering what happened as she took several minutes to just tell me that there was a lizard in the bathroom. And following her my son also started crying without even seeing the lizard.
“Nong Nuer wants to play with Nong Om.” He never talks in the first person. It sounded very strange to me the first time I saw people talking in that passive mode but over time I got used to it. I guess it is a way to gradually wash away the ego since the passive mode does not point to one's self directly and may be a result of Buddhist influence.
“Nong Om is sleeping now.” Nong-Om is our neighbor’s two year old daughter and my son’s friend as well. They fight fiercely over toys but if I take one away from the other then they start crying together.
“No, Nong Om has Ultraman gun. Nong Nuer wants to kill Ching Chok with Ultraman gun.”
“You can go get it yourself.”
“It’s raining. Nong Nuer can not go alone.”
“Then why you don't see Kankuyai and I work. Pa is busy.” The movie Kankuyai is the only diversion I have for him since my wife is still sleeping happily. Through the window sky is turning blue. The orange glow of setting sun is peering through the light gray clouds. The khanom-gin vendor is passing by advertising his food through a speaker mounted on the top of his pickup truck. His rhythmic monotonous voice is very much in harmony with the life we lead here which is simple and unexciting just like our fish pond except occasional ripples caused by celebration of birth and death or festivals like molam or bang-fai.
“Nong Nuer scares chang Hongsa” he says.
I understand that you want to play with me and look like I can not escape that responsibility. I have to take you to Nong-Om and play together. Yes I also love to play with you but I wish if we could have done it in some other time since I am in the middle of a story. If I loose the rhythm then it will be difficult to find it again. And between now and then it will be a painful existence. I don’t know why, whenever I start writing the universe conspires against me.
Once my wife asked “Why do you write?”
I answered “It makes me happy.”
“But you don’t look happy when you write. You look very strange and it seems you live in a different world during that time. You don’t talk with me properly.”
“It is not during the time I write but after I finish a story or a poem I feel very happy. It is like during the labor you feel pain but after the baby is born you smile in joy. Did you see my happiness after I finish?”
She laughed “Yes. Happy duai”
I savor the deep satisfaction to impart life in the womb of every dialogue I write. I never can be a mother in this life but I can relate the love, pain and intense feeling of creating something new with writing. Just like a moment of deep love brings the seed of a life inside a mother, similarly a moment of deep reflection creates the fetus of a story. During the pregnancy, if I may call the period between the conception of an idea and birth of a story that way, I feel its movement; it rotates sways and its heart beats with mine in unison. We live and breathe together oftentimes in a joyful communion. Over time as the mother nourishes the baby with her own blood the seed of the story gets my imagination and one day it starts pushing. The pain indicates that it has matured and it is time to deliver the baby. The process may take away a lot of your life leaving you exhausted. But it is only you who knows looking at your creation when you smile with joy how it feels.
My father-in-law is working in our small vegetable garden. We grow mainly the vegetables Issan people eat as salad with every meal. He really loves my son and often plays with him when I am busy working and his mother is in school. One day I saw he was drawing a landscape with the crayons I bought for my son. It was a very nice picture where yellow ripened rice firms are stretching up to dark green mountain ranges, a reminder of his small hometown in Chiang Rai province. He had all his concentration in the drawing as if he was enjoying every moment of it. He turned and smiled after being aware of my presence.
I said “I did not know that you could draw so well.”
He was shy, hesitant at first then smiled and slowly raised the paper to show his drawing. I saw in that a man’s passion which had been hidden under a grindingly hard life to raise family. A part of him was captured in the colors of crayon as beautiful as the scene he had drawn. It is framed and kept on my computer table. It inspires me to search for myself.
Like many others I went through death and rebirth again in Thailand with new friends, new lover and most importantly, a new self. It’s not easy to handle either death or birth because they bring change. But along with changes they brought opportunity to find my soul through deeply reflective moments. My writing is just an expression of those moments.
In a country where releasing one's true emotions in public is seriously frowned upon, writing provides a great alternative outlet.