Readers' Submissions

How Lucky We Are

  • Written by Anonymous
  • June 26th, 2008
  • 4 min read


Black Pagoda Patpong Bangkok


I am living in Nonthaburi now and this morning the lady and I went for a walk to a market not far from our apartment. On the way we crossed a bridge over a stinking open sewer of a canal. We could see someone was living under the bridge a few feet above the filthy water. As we crossed over a bent old man hobbled out from under the bridge, obviously the resident. How anyone can live in conditions like that is hard to imagine.

Later when walking round the market I was struck by the number of mostly old people who had only a small amount of things to sell. There was one very old lady in particular sitting on the ground with a small basket of herbs and a few these Thai treats you see wrapped up in banana leaves. She was looking at everyone passing by with hopeful eyes but no one was stopping and buying. After we had passed the lady turned to me and said "I want to go back and buy something from that old lady."

I told her "Yes, please."

She bought a small bundle of herbs that will go in with our meal tonight and a couple of the banana leaf wrapped whatevers she has eaten for breakfast.

I am not an emotional person but the old lady's grateful response brought a tear to my eye when she waied us and when the lady said you should not wai us Koon Yai. We are still young and it should be us that wai to you she answered “I wai to Buddha for your health and happiness”.

That small sale probably meant the difference between her having rice today or not. These people are not living they are surviving and unlike us they have nowhere to go this is as good as it will get as far as they are concerned.

The words from an old Joan Baez song came to mind “There but for fortune go you or I”.

Some accident of birth has allowed me and the readers of this forum the opportunities that have made it possible for us to accumulate enough money to visit or live in this country in a manner in which the old people mentioned above could never dream of.

Yet reading many of the submissions on this and other sites containing whines and whinges from people who think they have been hard done by or cheated by girlfriends, ex friends, business partners or whoever, mainly due to their own stupidity and those who feel their holiday experience has not been up to their expectations, you would think they were the ones in a real bad way.

Well look around you ladies and gents, look at those with deformed and missing limbs, the really poor in this country dressed in rags carrying all they own in a small bag. Those are people who in your country would be getting government support, money and probably housing here they get nothing. Look around and if you can see beyond the bottom of your beer glass it should put your problems in perspective.

How lucky we are.

The reason I have moved here is to be closer to the hospital where I am receiving treatment for rectal cancer. I go each day for radiation treatment and as it is a government hospital that treats mainly Thais. I see many locals who are in a much worse condition than me. There is the man in his forties with nicotine stained fingers and terminal lung cancer who turns up each day with his pregnant wife in the hope that the Chemo and radiation he is getting will prolong his life to see his baby born.

The lady, all skin and bone for whom cancer has robbed her of her breasts and most of her flesh. The treatment has robbed her of her hair yet she can still manage a smile of greeting each day. There are several with facial and neck cancers that are inoperable and it is easy to see the treatment is really knocking them about but they live in hope of a not very likely recovery.

Me? I am fit and strong and will get over this no problem. I have climbed many hills with heavy loads in my time and this is just another. Every time the radiation machine does its thing I think “Take that you little bastard. That will teach you to invade my body”

I am the luckiest man alive. I can do this. I can afford to do it and I have a good lady by my side to help.

Stickman's thoughts:

Good luck with the treatment.