Stickman Readers' Submissions June 23rd, 2014

Two Sides Of The Coin and Pathos

We see a lot of discussion concerning the rising costs of bar activities and the prices for available girls these days. The word inequality springs to mind when I think of this situation – because, for too long, it is the girls who have been taken advantage of. They are the disadvantaged and the opportunism has always been perpetrated by the foreign visitors or tight-fisted expats. Most foreigners in Thailand have a distinct advantage over Thai girls working in the bar industry – mainly because of the language and education factors, available cash reserves and life experience that serves to put the girl at a distinct disadvantage – so here we have a glaring example of inequality. I write below of an exception to that practice.

Let's move upscale to a situation concerning a Good Thai Girl (Phailin) from a financially-secure (but not rich) family, who is a second-year undergraduate in Medicine at Thammasat University. She is an attractive and smart girl – always standing out with her results from her studies. Her favorite Faculty professor (Ted – a well-credentialled Farang man in his 50s) has certainly noticed her potential and has shown an interest in Phailin in some of the friendly conversations they have exchanged. They begin to share more time together out of the Campus environment and it is not long before a mutual attraction develops between them.

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Of course, it is inevitable that they become lovers – but it is nothing like the normal arrangements between a well-connected man in a powerful position and a girl who works part-time as an upper-end escort. No money ever changes hands between Ted and Phailin and becoming an upper-end escort is something that would shock the sensibilities of Phailin and would never be on her agenda. She really is a good girl. Phailin idolises Ted – and Ted is totally lost in the charms of this girl whom he has truly fallen for – hopelessly. They have fallen into a genuine love for each other.

Of course they are discrete and never show feelings unless outside of Campus in private places chosen by them – so there is no suspicion of what lies between them. Ted has a wife who also lives in Bangkok – and Ted is careful, at all times, to conceal his tryst with Phailin – but has made it clear to Phailin that he will never leave his wife. Phailin respects Ted for his moral stance and would never wish to be part of anything that would cause a rift in Ted's marriage. Both Ted and Phailin have the best of both worlds. Ted has no need to falsify grade results for Phailin – she is quite able to manage better results than many of her peers, on her own merits – and this makes Ted very proud. He can see that Phailin has the necessary potential to go to whatever level she chooses within the Medical Profession – so, unbeknown to Phailin, he decides to set up a small Trust Account that will mature when Phailin passes her final Graduate exams. Ted knows that this will ensure Phailin has the necessary finances to do her Post-graduate studies wherever she chooses – thus ensuring her a successful career.

Here we have a stark comparison between different approaches in dealing with a Thai girl who is the object of somebody's affection. Phailin has no need of financial assistance due to the circumstances of her own family and a modest income she has from part-time work – so is the scenario isolated and believeable? I have no way of knowing – but I suspect it may be more common than not. You may say it is unfair to compare these two examples since Phailin has no need for financial assistance – but that's not the issue. The issue is intent on the part of the male.

Sometime in the following year, Ted died, unexpectedly, due to a coronary problem – and, needless to say, both Phailin and Ted's wife (Helen) were devastated – it actually provided the opportunity for them to finally meet at the funeral service. There were no children from the union of Ted and Helen – but Helen recalled how he had often spoken of this extremely bright student that he had at Campus. As she looked at Phailin, with tears in her eyes, she remembered that Ted spoke so highly of Phailin that it was almost as if she had been his own daughter. She looked at Phailin and said "Can I ask you something?" Phailin had her own tears welling up but she said "Of course." Helen continued. "Were you and my husband more than just friends? I just feel as if I would like to know." Phailin hardly knew what to say other than "We were good friends and I admired your husband enormously – he was a wonderful man and a great teacher." Helen persisted – "But, were you lovers?" Phailin opened her mouth to speak but tears rolled down her cheeks and she was unable to get the words out. Looking at the pained expression on Helen's face, she began – "Yes, for a while we were lovers – but it was always you that he loved the most. He would always say that his marriage was the most important thing in his life – and how you were all he could have wanted in a wife."

Helen moved closer to Phailin and put her arms around the girl. "Thank you for being honest and so sensitive to my needs. Ted and I were not able to make love for some time – and I know a man needs somebody to turn to. Thank God it was you who was there for him. I know that Ted put aside a Trust for you for when you graduate – and that will always be there for you. We probably cannot remain close friends – but you will always be in my thoughts and in my heart. Please continue with your studies and do the best you can – I will always think of you as a fine person." With that, Helen turned and walked away to join her husband's Faculty friends.

Phailin Passed her Graduation with Double Honors and went to America to do her Masters and PhD – specialising in Cardiology. She became a highly-respected cardio-thoracic surgeon and returned to Thailand to work. During her studies overseas, she and Helen kept in touch by mail – and they became firm friends when Phailin returned to Thailand.

How strange life can be – for Helen was quite old by now and died from natural causes, not long after Phailin returned to Bangkok, so Phailin was at her bedside when the time came – but it was Phailin who was requested to deliver the eulogy at Helen's funeral, in a letter that Helen had prepared to be given to Phailin. Normally, one would not expect an outcome like this – but these were two very special women who were brought together and held together by that strongest bond of all – love.

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