Our Place of Meeting…Is No Longer There

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This story is very similar to my childhood growing up in Laos, and Thailand, time has changed and all was left were the happy thought and the familiar path of my memory lane.

This is translated article based on a real life story from Koosang Koosom Magazine, written by Boukeow in Thai Language, translated by Ginger.

The aroma of Pad Thai in the air, this was very typical in the afternoon after I got off from school, I’d recognize that it’s my mom Pad Thai that she’s selling every evening. After the school let us out, my friends and I would take a shortcut through the rice paddy fields to get home, it’s approximately 2 kilometers (1.24 miles). The aroma of my mom’s Pad Thai made us wanting to get home faster, so we could eat it while it’s still hot and yummy.

When we reached approximately 50 meters (0.03 mile) from our village; we’d often race to see who’d get there first. Some would falloff the walking path (Kunna) along the rice paddy field, then got up and raced as fast as we could, we could hear our laughter in the air, and it’s so much fun.

By the time we got home, most of us had left about 1 Baht, 2 Baht and some as much as 3 Baht, we’d rush to my mom’s noodle stand, and my mom would sell it for 2 Baht which she’d wrap it with banana leaves and use thin bamboo stick to pin the top together to close the package. As for me, I loved the burnt part at the bottom of the pan, it’d stick together and crunchy, but I think it’s the most delicious part of Pad Thai.

As long as I could remember, my mom made a living selling Pad Thai, and has a mini mart, selling miscellaneous items. She taught us to work hard. She trained us to work when we’re little, and we’ve had chores that had to be done on a daily basis. Let just say, as soon as we’d get up, we had to complete our chores before going to school, and as soon as I get home, there’re chores that I had to do before I could go and play.

In the evening, we’re busy and had many customers, people came to buy Pad Thai for their dinner and also miscellaneous items that they were out of or needed. It’s a lot of work in the evening, and everyone had to help. My mom has 4 children; the oldest is my sister, then my brother, my youngest sister, and me.

We’re very closed in age, only 1 year apart, except for my oldest sister and my brother, they’re 2 years apart in age. Do we fight with each other? You can bet on it that we do, on a daily basis, especially my brother and I, we’ve had a love-hate relationship, just to walk pass each other, we’d fight, and I can’t tell you about what now, but he seems to get along with my youngest sister, as if he loves her more than me. He’d always give stuff to her, but never once thought of me. However, if any of us were to get sick, then we’d stick together and help however we can, must be normal for siblings, I guess this is what they called growing pain.

During the cold months and the raining season, my friends and I absolutely loved it, I’m sure most kid would love it also, because if it was to rain, then we’d make excuse that we can’t go to school because of the rain, especially if it’s a heavy rain, we’d be grinning from ear-to-ear. We’d be running in the rain, or go catch some frogs, fishing in the rice paddy fields, it was a lot of fun.

In the cold months, we’d make kites. We had to make it ourselves because we didn’t have money to buy one, but we’re proud that it’s something that we did ourselves, especially if our kites were to fly higher than other people’s kites, you’d imagine how happy I was.

The way to make a kite, we took a thin bamboo stick, then the plastic bags or old newspaper and glued to the stick. Most times, it’s the boys that like to make kites. The girls could do it, but it normally wouldn’t take off, might be that it’s too heavy, my kite wouldn’t take off either, so most of the time, I would just tie a string to a plastic bag. It’s not your typical kite, but it still fly and I ran with the rest of them trying to fly my kite, it’s a lot of fun. The place that we met to fly kites was at the rice paddy field, the rice had already been harvested, so there’re just an open space for us to run freely.

This was our meeting place in the evening, all the children in the village would meet here to fly kites. Sometimes we’d get lucky and our kites would stay up high, then we just tied them to the trees, and some day when it’s very windy, then the string would break off and our kites would fly off. We’d try to see whose kites flew the highest, and of course, we needed very long strings.

We played until it’s late, some parents came to get their children for dinner, but sometimes we’d pack our dinner with us, and would share our foods, it’s like eating out at an outdoor restaurant, the view of the sunset, the cool breeze of the wind, it was truly magical.

After we ate our dinner, we’d often lie there, looking up at the sky, at our kites, we’d count them and sometimes we’d look at the clouds, trying to figure out what shapes we saw. Some would see giant, guns, it’s mostly our imaginations, and when its dust, then we’d go home.

Presently, our meeting place of the great outdoor, the miles stretched of the rice paddy fields, the view of beautiful mountains, is no longer there, but instead, it’s replaced with paved roads, subdivisions of housing, and tall buildings. The safe playground of the rice paddy field is now replaced with paved roads in the subdivisions, which is somewhat dangerous with speeding cars. The sunset that we used to watch every evening is now blocked with tall buildings.

The meeting place for children in this day and age is at the arcades place, the shopping center (the mall), the ice cream shop, or the Internet cafe. Technology has big influenced on children and has changed the role of playing completely. What is left was just memory that I’ll cherish, the image of my friends and I running in the rice paddy field, carefree with no worries, the breeze of the wind, the evening sunshine, and the sound of our laughter is still echoing every time I’d think of our meeting place. Those were the good old days.