By: Edward Seah
I was taken by surprise.
“Busha is in Bangkok now. Alone.”
The voice at the other end of the line said.
I was taken by complete surprise when Qiang told me that. Qiang, a Thai national who was Burmese by birth was a friend of mine who, until
recently, had been staying in the village up in a mountain district called Wawi in Chiang Rai, the northern part of Thailand. He spent a lot of time
hosting me and taking me around when I was staying in the village for a short while on my previous trip there, which was incidentally my first,
and we became good friends since then. I make long-distance calls to him once in a while to keep in touch. Today, however, this call served up a
surprise that could change the course of my life, at least in the days ahead. Something I was totally unprepared for, and something for which I had to make a decision.
‘What was she doing there?’ I thought.
“I’ve no idea what she’s doing there,” he continued in a solemn voice, as if he had just read my thought. “None of us do. She’s just a little girl.
"Why did she go all the way to Bangkok alone?What is doing there? Her parents are worried about her.”
“Yeah, and it’s pretty tense over there, with all the protests going on,” I added, referring to the protests and the clashes between political factions and their respective supporters that had been going on in Bangkok at that time. “How did she manage to get enough money to make her way there, anyway?”
“She’s a thrifty girl,” Chiang replied. “She has always been. She must have used her savings. If it’s not enough, she probably borrowed from her
Busha was living in town with three of her eight sisters. She has a younger brother as well, the last in line.
“Do you have any idea what she’s doing there?” I asked Qiang again, half expecting him to know.
“None of us here knows. I don’t know if it has anything to do with the political situation over there,” he offered.
“Huh? Are you sure? Why would that be the case?”
“Yes. We are all red shirts here.”
It was a seemingly simple conversation, but the implications were far from casual. From what I had last heard about Busha, wasn’t she was
supposed to be attending the university in Chiang Rai? Hasn’t she just started the first semester of her freshman year?
I had never thought she had such boldness in her. Ever since I got to know her, I have always had the impression that she was someone who listened to her parents and would not step out of line in whatever she did. Not that her going to Bangkok on her own was a heinous crime, but she would know that given the situation in the city at a time of political upheaval in her country, doing so would cause people close to her to be worried. She should know that.
And what did I do after the conversation I had with Qiang? Booked an air ticket bound for Bangkok two days later, that’s what. BW
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Edward Seah doesn’t have a list of titles he has authored himself, but writes for interest.
He is a full-time freelance Chinese-English translator and a photography enthusiast. He has self-published a photo book “Chasing Fuji” that documents his hike up Mount Fuji in Japan, and is currently working on his next photo book. He welcomes your viewing of his photography works on http://edward-seah.pixels.com