This is a translated article from Koosang Koosom Magazine, written by Vanhla of Udtradit in Thai Language, translated by Nye.
I kept this as a secrete for almost 50 years now, please allow me to tell this to Koosang Koosom as the first to know of what had happened.
When I was about 6 years old, the Thai government launched a campaign against the communist, at the time I couldn’t read yet, but heard the grown ups talked about the cruelty of the communist, such as making people work as water buffalo to plow the rice paddy.
Or put little kids in a mortal, and smashed down repeatedly with a pestle.
Those that were against the communist would be killed, especially those that were teachers because teachers teach children to become brighter, so they wouldn’t be easily influenced or brainwashed by the communist. My dad was a teacher at one of the schools in Udtradit (Thailand), very far from civilization, and in the middle of no where. There was no electricity and the only way to reach the village was by boat only.
My dad relocated us with him, we lived in a school housing. My dad’s school had a roof but no walls and they used the blackboards to separate the classrooms, from first grade to fourth grade. There was an old grub hoe (garden tool) hanging by a tree that was being used as the school bell. We didn’t have any book or pencil, the principal gave us each a chalk and small blackboard to write on. We lived at the school house for a little over a month and something unforgettable happened.
That night right before I went to bed, I heard loud noises…Pung, Pung, Pung…
The repeated noise came from the end of the village, my dad looked bewildered and told my mom and I to “hurry up, go towards the river, the communist are here.”
I grabbed a mat and my dad’s PaKrama (a traditional piece of cloth use to wrap around his waist), my mom carried my little sibling who was asleep at the time, and my dad had a flashlight, a knife, and lantern. He led us to the river bank behind the house.
Our house was by the foothill. There was a stream that ran alongside the mountains, and during the dry season there was no water, but covered with wild grass and bushes instead. We made our way to the river, my dad laid down the sheet for us to sit by the river bank. We sat there in darkness, silent, and fear kept inching up on us, we could hear crickets and the sound of our breathing.
That same noise… Pung, Pung, Pung came again from a distance, time seemed to move very slowly, then we heard people talking and they walked passed our house. My dad said, “Wait here, I’m going back to see if it’s safe.” My dad was gone for a while, my mom was worried sick, I stood up to look in the direction of the house, and saw the lantern light inside our house. Who could have lit the lantern inside our house? Is it the communist?
In a little bit I heard someone making his way through the tall grass, and flashlight shined in our direction. It was only my dad, he came back to tell us that it was safe to go back home. Mom asked in fear, “Are the communist gone?” My dad looked down, a bit embarrassed, and started to roll the mat up, he said “They are not the communist but they are the villagers that burned the bamboo trees. The fire made the bamboo popped and made noise like a machine gun, so I thought we were being attacked by the communist, and don’t tell this to anyone because it’s embarrassing.”
I was a good daughter, never once told this story to anyone until now. Even though it happened almost 50 years ago, but it’s still very amusing every time I think about it, but dad would never once smiled when I brought this up, he couldn’t find the humor in it.