“Experiences from ‘The Flow’ (5): The Stray”
“She had tolerated five years of infidelity, mental abuse, and battering; but the rape of her little sister was the last straw. She finally left him…and ended up in my house.”
“Prosperity: The eternal flow of all that’s good in life…”
By Carl “J.C.” Pantejo, Copyright January 2008
(Author “My Friend Yu – The Prosperity Mentor,” Copyright August 2007. Pantejo – Y.N. Vurce Publishing.)
*Below is the fifth episode in a series of real life events experienced by the author. The only deviations from the truth may be the names of people and places. These stories are also incorporated in “My Friend Yu – the Prosperity Mentor: Book II,” Pantejo – Y.N. Vurce Publishing. Release Date: Mid 2008.
– Open House –
We (my “adopted” sister, her husband, and I) have an “open house” policy.
If any friend falls on hard times and needs a place to stay, all he / she has to do is call, or simply drop in. Over the past two years, we’ve taken in countless “strays” and helped them as much as we could.
Whether it was a battered wife, abused girl / boyfriend, abandoned child, or delinquent adolescent; my home became the most popular haven in our “Mubon” (Thai: village) and “Soi” (Thai: street), a warm and safe place to go when there were no other options.
The visitors stayed long enough to overcome their individual, temporary crisis – sometimes two weeks, sometimes two months. Once they were back on their feet again (emotionally, physically, and financially), we bid them a hearty farewell; wishing them all the best for a better life.
The benevolence was always repaid – not in money, but in much needed assistance.
As a Falang in Thailand, the simplest things tend to be frustratingly difficult to accomplish. Many times, when I needed help doing mundane, but vital, tasks (e.g., ordering food, purchasing a motorcycle, getting directions, traveling by taxi or bus, changing currency, etc.); I could rely on the people I’d helped in the past.
Asians have very long memories, indeed. It is not uncommon to return to a place many years later and find that casual acquaintances still remember your name, the things you did, and the things you like or dislike.
– Number One –
Her name was Neung (Thai: Number One). In any other country, she would be described as quite attractive: smooth, brown skin; a slim, athletic figure; long, dark brown hair that cascaded down her back, and an exotic face that held a beautiful smile and alluring eyes.
But by Thai standards, she was “over the hill” at 24 years old.
In her younger years (from ages 16 through 21), she was considered quite a beauty, being the object of desire of all the local men in her village. Unfortunately, she ended up with the local Bad Boy and spent most of her “beauty years” in an abusive relationship.
Out of personal pride and familial / public pressure, Neung stubbornly tolerated years of infidelity, lies, and physical abuse from her long-time boyfriend. But the rape of her little sister was the last straw. She finally left him…and, via my sister, ended up in my house.
– Neung Who? –
Neung arrived on a Friday afternoon while I was still working. My sister had already asked me if it was alright for Neung to stay with us, saying, “You met her last year at the ‘Moo Kra Ta’ (Thai: BBQ), remember?”
I said, “No (I don’t remember), but if she needs a place to stay, yes, of course, it’s okay with me.”
When I saw Neung, I instantly remembered who she was.
During a birthday party at a local Moo Kra Ta for a friend last year, Neung and I met and spoke briefly. I also remember that the woman who accompanied me to the party got very jealous of Neung – mainly, because Neung was, as the girlfriend put it, “too friendly” with me.
It also irked my date that Neung was not the usual “terrified to speak English” (especially to a foreigner) Thai woman. On the contrary, Neung was a good sport. She was not afraid to speak (and mangle) the English language. I reciprocated with a proper bashing of the Thai language, having great fun trying to make sounds that have no English counterpart whatsoever! No exaggeration – sometimes I think it takes an extra tongue (or at least a spare epiglottis) to speak Thai!
I also remember telling my sister that Neung reminded me of a girlfriend I had in Hawaii (many years ago).
– That First Night –
During the first night at my place, I could plainly see that Neung was hurting. Being Thai, she forced herself to smile whenever I looked at her, but her eyes couldn’t conceal her true feelings.
Her beautiful brown, Asian eyes displayed a forlorn look – that sad expression seen on people with no one (and no place) to call their own. Of course, there were countless other reasons for her unhappiness too (shock, rage, loss, grief, heartbreak, uncertainty – and the list goes on and on).
Recently overcoming heartbreak, I truly empathized with Neung, trying to make her feel as comfortable as possible – and failing miserably. My clumsy attempts at hospitality only widened the cultural gap between us, reinforcing the fact that, yes, I am a “Falang” (Thai: foreigner) in Thailand.
Sadly, Falangs in Thailand don’t have the greatest reputation for being respectable or reliable.
Since I couldn’t communicate well with Neung, I could only imagine what she was going through. Maybe she was wrestling with the idea of going back to her abusive boyfriend? Statistics show that recidivism (to repeat a bad habit or return to an abusive situation) is high among abused girlfriends and spouses. Inwardly, I deeply hoped she would be strong enough to do what was best for her life (and safety).
– To Commiserate, or Not To Commiserate? –
I wanted to reach out to Neung and tell her that things will only get better.
But I personally knew that during the post-breakup shock and blues period, words don’t really help much. Good people, kind actions, and a different, supporting environment soothes emotional wounds better than listening to cliché-sounding advice.
I wasn’t sure if she was ready to talk about her situation.
I wanted to tell her how I profoundly understood what’s she’s currently feeling. I wanted to tell her that abuse isn’t just a “woman problem,” it happens to men too. If she heard about my recent experiences dealing with the ex’s infidelity, lies, mental abuse, financial recklessness, and eventual break-up, would it help?
Maybe it would plunge her deeper into sadness? Was it the right time, or even an appropriate subject to talk about? To commiserate, or not to commiserate – that was the question.
Using my bilingual sister as a translator, I told Neung to relax and make herself at home.
“You can stay as long as you need to,” I said.
“Kop khun kaa, Khun J.C., kop khun kaa maak (Thank you, Mr. J.C., thank you very much.),” she said, with a respectful “Wai” (a Thai gesture that is performed by putting the hands together, prayer-like, and touching the thumbs to the chin).
“If you want to stay here, you have to call me just plain ole’ J.C. No ‘Mr.’ please. It makes me feel much older than I am,” I said.
After the translation, Neung’s face lit up with a bright smile.
Then I heard her laugh for the first time since she arrived. It was a wonderful sound…
(Continued in “Experiences from ‘The Flow’ (6): New Beginnings, Old Endings”)
“Until next time, find ‘The Flow’ and jump in!”
Your Friend in this Intrepid Journey called Life,
Carl “J.C.” Pantejo
Crisis, open house, relationships, infidelity, battering, abuse, Wai, Falang, Asian, beauty.
Note: If you want to read more about overcoming heartbreak, unconditional love, exorcising past personal demons, and the Illusive Secret of Happiness, please read the following articles:
“Experiences from ‘The Flow’: From Heartbreak to Happiness”
“Experiences from ‘The Flow’ (2): Coincidence or Synchronicity: FROM RELAPSE TO MIRACLES…”
“Experiences from ‘The Flow’ (3): LOST AND FOUND – Kindred Spirits and Mistakes made in Haste.”
“Experiences from ‘The Flow’ (4): LOST AND FOUND – Meant to Be?”
“How Dare She! Out of Desperation I Learned How to Forgive”
“Remember Who You Are!”
“Need to Heal Your Broken Heart? Read on. Overcome Heartbreak and Learn the Illusive Secret of Happiness.”
(By Carl “J.C.” Pantejo and published internet-wide, keyword: [title of article] or “Carl Pantejo”)
About the Author:
He is a retired U.S. Military veteran. Believing that school was too boring, he dropped out of High School early; only to earn an A.A., B.S., and MBA in less than 4 years much later in life – while working full-time as a Navy / Marine Corps Medic. In spite of a fear of heights and deep water, he free-fall parachuted out of airplanes and performed diving ops in very deep, open ocean water. He went to Thailand 1 year ago for a week’s vacation, fell into a teaching job, and has never left!
That's an abrupt ending!