This was based on a real life story in Koosang Koosom Magazine, by P. Jareunruck, written in Thai Language, translated by Ginger.
Virun and I were best friend as long as I could remember; we lived in the same village. After we completed the 4th grade, I continued my study in town and had to commute daily which was about 4 kilometers (approx. 2.50 miles), but Virun didn’t continue his study because he was the oldest son, and had to help his parents to make a living. We were buddies, so we were seen together all the time, you can say that we were two peas in a pod (Thai people called it ‘a corpse (ghost) and a casket’, very odd saying).
I completed my study in town, moved to Bangkok to further my education, and had to work to support myself, so I didn’t get to see Virun as often. During my first year away from home, I had 10 days of vacation time so I went back home to visit and at the time we were both young men so we got to hang out late. But we were country folks…so there was not a whole lot to do, mostly hanging out at the Wat festival (Buddhist temple festival) but we had loads of fun.
Two days prior to me heading back to Bangkok, I noticed that Virun was very quiet, as if he was deep in his own thoughts and answered my questions word for word. Then he finally said, “I’m tired of life…the next time that you come back to visit, I might not be here.” I then protested, “Hey, don’t say that, if I won’t see you, where will you go?” He didn’t answer but gave me a smile. I thought nothing of it and headed back to Bangkok.
Three months had gone by that I didn’t get a chance to visit; normally I would visit my parents every month. That day, I felt strange, somewhat restless and I wanted to go visit my folks back home, which I’ve never recalled feeling this way before. I decided to catch the next bus and by the time I got to the village, it was late at night.
I got off the bus that runs from Bangkok-Nakornprathom at a stop in front of Wat Thumsala (Buddhist Temple) around 9 pm, it was a bit eerie when I had to walk passed Wat (Temple) and the cemetery since my house was behind the temple (approximately .62 miles from the temple.) Well, needless for me to describe the scenery, but picture the dark sky, soft breeze that’s blowing the leaves…I took a deep breath and continued to walk briskly.
I don’t think I’m afraid of ghost because I used to live at this temple when I was little. So I continued to walk and increase my speed by taking as long a stride as possible. On my right hand side was a huge tree that caste shadow on the ground, and as I got closer, I saw a man wearing a black outfit stood at the foot of the tree. My walking came to a halt, I wasn’t thinking in terms of ghost, but more like a robber even thought at the moment I only had a cheap watch and 300 Baht ($9.82 US Dollar) in my wallet, but I didn’t want to give it away yet.
Then he spoke up with his hoarse voice, “Why..did..you..come..so..late?” I recognized that voice, it was Virun. I replied, “Hey, is that you Run?” he replied “He he, it’s me, I’m.. here.. to.. pick.. you.. up.” I was glad and relieved at the same time; at least I don’t have to walk home alone. I walked toward him but he turned around and led the way, keeping his distance of about 20 meters (22 yards), and the dogs were howling.
It was a bit eerie, so I asked him, “How did you know that I was coming today?” He didn’t answer my question, but slowly said “Hurry up..it is..getting..late.” I was glad that he came to pick me up, so I tried to catch up but he was a lot faster than I was. The dogs continued to howl, Virun motioned his mouth for them to stop barking, and they stopped and took off running in fear.
I told Virun to slow down but he didn’t and continued to keep his distance and as for me, I complained the whole time, asking him many questions but he never once answered my questions. We came to the intersection in front of my house; Virun didn’t stop which puzzled me because he had always slept over at my house whenever I visited home.
“Aren’t you going to sleep over?” I asked. He replied, “No…you.. go.. ahead.. and.. get.. some.. rest.”, my dog at home started to bark, I turned to tell it to be quiet, but when I turned back to talk to Virun, he was gone. I didn’t know which direction he went, as if he disappeared into thin air.
My parents came out to greet me, they asked, “Why did you come so late, aren’t you afraid?” I thought for a moment, then replied, “Nothing to be afraid off, Run went to pick me up.” My mom and dad looked at each other, my dad then said, “Run passed away 7 days ago, his funeral was yesterday, how in the world was he able to pick you up, Umh?”
I was in a state of shock when I heard the news, I protested, “That can’t be…because we walked home together.” My dad said, “Run was shot by the village chief’s son, fighting over a girl and the shooter got away. His spirit was probably worried about you, he knew that you were coming today, so he went to pick you up.”
So I walked home with Virun’s spirit, no wonder the dogs howled on and off the whole time; I will make sure to Tum Boun (offer of charity) for you on a regular basis…may your spirit rest in peace.
- O Little Town of Bethlehem