Madman, Madwoman, Madhuman: The Dream Under the Sun

Written by small bandhit aniya
Translated by Sudkanueng B.

This headliner for our third issue is excerpted from the autobiographical novel The Dream Under the Sun (first published 2010) by small bandhit aniya—written in lowercase to reflect the author’s choice in Thai of titling himself “small” in contrast to the high-ranking military men who are routinely called “Big [insert nickname]” by the mainstream media. Four times a lèse majesté defendant, first in 1975 and most recently in 2014, bandhit aniya has escaped imprisonment multiple times thanks purely to the psychiatric diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia. This diagnosis, however, has become an indelible stigma for the writer, translator, and bookseller who publicly insists that he is not mentally ill. Prizing his memory, bandhit has since the 1960s rejected all forms of psychiatric treatment, from electroshock therapy to anti-psychotic drugs, which would interfere with his ability to remember and set down his life story.

It must be noted that this excerpt—“a diary narrating the final chapter of his life”—is largely a fictional account. When the diarist writes “there is no doubt that I am mentally ill,” the reader is encouraged to interpret it as something other than unironic acceptance of the opinion-turned-fact of psychiatric diagnosis. Here, the powers of the court, the police, and the hospital are bound together, whereas bandhit’s political discontent and mental disorder become almost indistinguishable.

While much of this book of nearly 700 pages is based on the author’s memories, key scenes are entirely imagined. These episodes offer glimpses of happiness or closure to the miserable lives of the novel’s main characters, namely bandhit aniya and his mother Ainey Sae-Khow, a young woman from Teochew Province who was married off to a man she did not love and eventually died alone in an insane asylum in Ubon Ratchathani. The first chapter, for example, depicts Ainey and her true love making a love-promise to each other. The penultimate chapter excerpted here depicts a bandhit so stricken with fear of an upcoming verdict that he decides to flee from the law of the nation’s father—an imagined trip to freedom that parallels his actual flight from his father’s house five decades earlier as a boy. Bandhit’s work of imagination in the midst of trauma echoes what Bessel van der Kolk stresses in The Body Keeps the Score:

Imagination is absolutely critical to the quality of our lives. Our imagination enables us to leave our routine everyday existence by fantasizing about travel, food, sex, falling in love, or having the last word—all the things that make life interesting. Imagination gives us the opportunity to envision new possibilities—it is an essential launchpad for making our hopes come true.


The Dream Under the Sun
Chapter 15
Finale and Sign-off

2

One day in May 2010, he wrote a diary narrating the final chapter of his life. What follows is that diary, which he wrote before his death.

2/1

There is no doubt that I am mentally ill. Many things I have done in the past and will do in the future clearly signal that I am a psycho, the kind with paranoid schizophrenia. The symptoms and the knowledge of myself being this kind of psycho have kept me from happiness. In fact, oblivious or not, my life in this world has never consisted of happiness. It has been that way for a long, long time.

Some psychiatrists say that mentally ill patients are content by virtue of their illness. If they recover from mental illness, they will suffer greatly, but as they are psychotic, suffering disappears and happiness has taken its place. Those psychiatrists, therefore, recommend that the patients be left with their mental illness without getting treatment, so that they can be happy with that mental state because if they recover, their minds will be full of pain and suffering from having to face the harsh reality of life. So, it is good that some mentally ill patients are capable of being content thanks to their conditions. Such is the opinion of some psychiatrists.

As for me, with mental illness or without, I have never been content in the long period I have spent in Thailand. I have lived in Thailand as an alien subsisting on foreign land for survival. My home country is China, ruled in the past by vile, nefarious and evil emperors. Saying that the emperors were vile, nefarious and evil is not enough. All emperors who ruled China were cruel, corrupted with power and lecherous. They scraped off poor Chinese people. They suppressed and exploited Chinese people in all ways possible. They ruled as if Chinese people were their slaves, their serfs, or their animals. That was the treatment Chinese people received from their emperors in the past. Fortunately, the vile, nefarious, and evil emperors no longer exist in the land of China. Chinese people now enjoy freedom, fairness, and peace thanks to the revered Dr. Sun Yat Sen, who did not appoint himself to be the father of Modern China. I want to visit China to show my love and gratitude for Dr. Sun Yat Sen at his monument. I should do that. I am also Chinese.

Someday, I hope I will travel to China for this purpose. It’s similar to the hope I have for paying my respect to Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States and Vladimir Lenin, the man who overthrew the wicked Tsar of Russia. One of these days—if I’m able to survive until that day.

2/2

Back in 1960, I contacted an official at the Russian Embassy asking to be moved to Russia and in 1965 I wanted to be in Russia so much that I put up a tent in front of the embassy. That was how a long tragic life of mine commenced, how I had to be stuck here in Thailand without being able to migrate to where I preferred to live. Time passed for many decades until 2010. I am very old, my body and mind in decay. I keep my wish of wanting to leave Thailand for some other country that is more civilized in every way. In this condition of a tired old man who’s mentally ill, I wish to go to the United States of America because

They have a good form of government, not an evil form of government.

They have a good ruler, not an evil ruler.

They have a good constitution, not an evil constitution.

They have good laws, not evil laws.

They have good scholars, not evil scholars.

They have a good press, not an evil press.

Or I wish to go to Russia because Russia has everything, as does the United States. I want to live in the United States and die there in hopes that after death my soul will find peace and bliss on the land of the United States, a land where people have the most freedom and the best form of government in the world. Above all else, I want to live in the United States because there lives the most kindhearted American who bailed me out twice from the charge of lèse majesté. This American scholar posted bail for me in the Court of First Instance and posted bail for me again in the Court of Appeals with 300,000 baht. This American with a noble and beautiful heart is Dr. Peter Koret who has lent me a hand all through the twenty years since we first knew each other around 1987. This one American who is kindhearted to me makes me love America the country and all Americans whether they have helped me or not. My good feeling towards Americans will remain in my heart forever and it should be so because had it not been for the American named Dr. Peter Koret who bailed me out from the unjust charges of lèse majesté, I would have rotten in prison and died there long ago. So it is as it should be that I think of the goodness of this American and other Americans for as long as I shall live. Owing to an American who saved me from prison, I am able to write this book. 

2/3

I have always been aware that the psychiatrists at the Srithanya Hospital and the Somdet Chaopraya Institute of Psychiatry made their opinions based on the academic literature on mental disorders or people with mental disorders and diagnosed me with paranoid schizophrenia and a low IQ. That was forty or thirty years ago. In 2005, a kindhearted psychiatrist at the Galya Rajanagarindra Institute diagnosed that I have paranoid schizophrenia. Her opinion was submitted to the Southern Bangkok Criminal Court to substantiate the defense against the lèse majesté accusations. This kind-hearted psychiatrist was Dr. Duangta Kraipaspong who testified in person and submitted a diagnosis document for the court to consider that I was mentally ill and must be treated. The court ordered me to be treated at the Galya Rajanagarindra Institute for more than a year and I had to pay thousands of baht for treatment and medicine to the institute. Maybe it was even ten thousand or over ten thousand. It was such a waste but I had to follow the court’s order. When I was given medication for the mental disorder, what I did to those pills was throwing them all in the garbage. Never once did I take any medication according to the psychiatrist’s order. Not even one pill. There were certain pills that put you to sleep, but I didn’t take those. Even though I couldn’t fall sleep, I gave those pills to other people who needed them. 

I am a psycho who did not take medication as per the doctor’s order. In this sense, my mental disturbances remain as they were. I have tried to force myself to live normally so that the mental disturbances buried deep in me would not rise. For if the symptom occurs, I would not hurt others but I would hurt myself by committing suicide. This time, I’m afraid. I’m so afraid that the symptom would escalate to the point I must kill myself. If I die before witnessing the transformation of Thai society from bad to good, my soul will never find peace in the hereafter.

[…]

2/7

With illness that goes untreated, whether by medicine or by any other method, the symptoms can only compound and worsen both to body and soul. My body is ill because I don’t have a bladder. I have to wear a plastic bag for urine outside my body. One of my kidneys was cut off. When I eat certain foods or drink certain beverages, the urine will be red. The redness is blood mixed with urine. Many times the wound in my flank, where the tube is inserted to the kidney, smarts and burns. Numerous times urine seeps from the opening of the wound. Sometimes it seeps only when I sit or walk but not when I sleep; other times it seeps both when I sit and when I sleep. This condition has brought me a lot of inconvenience.

I don’t forget to remind myself that I am a psycho. Of course, my symptoms worsen every day. I am able to observe the exacerbation of my mental disease but can’t do anything to cure myself of it. Going to the hospital to get treatment was a great waste of money because when the doctor gave me medications, I would throw them all away, just like what I did when I was arrested and sent to the Srithanya Hospital [in 1965, for camping outside the Russian Embassy and writing “It is better to die in Moscow than to stay in Thailand” on the wall]. I threw all the pills away precisely because I was psychotic. A better way out for me would be to just die. I am a psycho and I have a daughter and a son. Both of them are very good children, just like how I was a good son to my mother though I never had a chance to repay her great kindness in this life. Meanwhile, my daughter and son have been able to repay me, their father. My two kids expressed so much gratitude to me that I can never forget it. The generosity of my children will be forever etched in my heart.

I have no valuable possession to pass on to my children except for the love and good wishes of mine, an incompetent father who cannot be a protector for their children. I have no assets to give them after my death. Death creeps slowly towards me with the passage of time.

From sorrow, pain, trauma caused by my past misfortunes and from failures in every aspect of my life, my mental disorder arose. It is the disorder of a person with chronic mental illness. Physicians in non-psychiatric fields know well how human ailments work. They know the causes of the ailments and how to treat them. Or if the patient does not get treated, they know what the outcome will be.

I am not sure whether the mental illness I had and was treated by the doctors at the Srithanya Hospital in 1965 when I stayed there for 42 days and was released by a doctor’s assistant who helped me to get out, is cured. Probably not: because in January 1975, I made a book called Red Star. The patriots, religious righteous, and royalists filed a case to the Director-General of the Police Department at the time saying that the entire book was a defamation against the monarchy. The police sent me to a doctor at the Somdet Chaopraya Institute of Psychiatry to perform a mental examination on me. The psychiatrists at the Institute concluded based on the knowledge they learned from abroad that I had paranoid schizophrenia which meant that my mental illness had not gone away. Later, in 2005, I was in the Criminal Court for another case sued by the patriots, religious righteous, and royalists that I wrote and spoke defamatory words against the monarchy once again. The court ordered the psychiatrists at the Galya Rajanagarindra Institute to perform a mental examination on me. They unanimously agreed that I had paranoid schizophrenia, just like the diagnosis of the psychiatrists from the Somdet Chaopraya Institute of Psychiatry in 1975. Thus, there can be no doubt whether I was or was not a psycho. Of course, I was a psycho. Fortunately, I have not been so sick that I go run around Sanam Luang naked like that old man who did so in 1992.

“The Crazy Old Man Running Around Sanam Luang Naked” was another short story I wrote for the sake of my mental well-being. It was published by Komsorn Kunadilok, an old friend of mine who published many books for me, but all of them brought him a shattering loss to the point of financial and social bankruptcy, with me as the root cause. I am so sorry that I caused a good man to go bankrupt financially and socially.  

Luckily, I have not gone so mad to the point of running around Sanam Luang naked. In fact, I would like to run laps around Sanam Luang or around Thailand naked for once while I am a psychotic old man who can’t control his mind or actions. But doing so will break the hearts of my daughter and son. I cannot bring such anguish to my two children. This is perhaps why I came to the view that in my failure of being a father, I still have some virtues that are worthy of my children’s respect. My only hope is that my mental disorder is not hereditary and isn’t going to be passed on to my children. Please don’t let it be that way.

I once read an article about treating people with psychosis. This article was on Witthayasan Magazine or Chaiyapruek Magazine more than four decades ago, written by Dr. Taweeratsami Thanakom. Here goes a partial summary of the article: the first thing the psychiatrist does to psychotic patients is talking and getting them to admit that they are psychotic. When the patients understand and admit that they are psychotic, 50% of their psychotic symptoms are already cured. The rest is to get a treatment as the psychiatrist deems fit. That was the gist of Dr. Taweeratsami Thanakom’s article. According to this article, then, when I understand and admit that I am psychotic, my mental illness is 50% cured. The rest is to get medicated or other treatments provided by the psychiatrists following the steps of the psychiatric science. But I did not get myself treated, except for the shot I got at Srithanya Hospital which I couldn’t fight my way out of. After leaving the Srithanya Hospital, although I was still mentally ill, the physicians at the Somdet Chaopraya Institute of Psychiatry and the Galya Rajanagarindra Institute unanimously agreed that I had psychosis. I had to pay for medication. I regret spending money for the pills I didn’t take. But what could have been done? It was the court’s absolute order that I must be treated for mental illness at the Galya Rajanagarindra Institute. If I disobey the court’s order, the court might have sentenced me to more prison time on the top of the original sentence for lèse majesté due to my violation of the court’s just and well-intentioned order. With this, my prison time may be doubled. This matter should be kept secret. I can’t ever let the court know about this while my case is still in the Supreme Court.

Currently, the Supreme Court has not summoned me to hear the verdict. When the Supreme Court summons me, I will find a way to escape to the Lao People’s Democratic Republic or Vietnam or, even better, the United States of America and Russia, if possible in reality.

I am terrified of the Supreme Court’s upcoming verdict. I know in advance what the verdict of the Supreme Court will be. To avoid prison time of months, years or many years, I just want to flee from Thailand after having lived here for sixty-two years.

2/8

My psychotic symptoms have increased with time although I feel and believe that I’m 50% psychotic and 50% not psychotic, as in normal like any mentally stable person. This state of being psychotic means I’m a half-sane half-insane old man. This is what I am, and I am well aware I am like this. There was an American author named Edgar Allan Poe who was accused by mentally stable people or by psychiatrists that he was a half-sane half-insane man. If what people said about Edgar Allan Poe was true, it means that in this world there have been two authors, at least two, who were accused of being half-sane. The difference between Edgar Allan Poe and me is that he was a world-famous half-sane author while I am a half-sane author totally unknown to the world. No one even recognizes me as an author. This is the true difference between Edgar Allan Poe and me.

Since I mentioned the American author Edgar Allan Poe, I should also mention a French author whose works I admire the most. This French author also ended up in the psychiatric ward and died there at only a little over 40 years old. He was a world-renowned author. His work was admired by millions of readers but he was psychotic because of the syphilis that went straight to his brain without available medical treatment during that time. This French author whose works I read was Guy de Maupassant. The person who translated his work from English to Thai was Asa Khochitmet. I regard his work to be an excellent model of literary translation. To me, he is a teacher in translating English to Thai.

This time, I am well aware that my psychotic symptoms have increased each day that I don’t get proper treatment as prescribed by the psychiatrist. I never visited the psychiatrist again after the verdict of the Court of First Instance on the lèse majesté case against me. And when the Court of Appeals sentenced me to two years and eight months of prison without parole, I didn’t visit the psychiatrist either. I told myself that I’d rather save money than get mental health treatment. I don’t care that if I go without treatment I may suffer an episode so severe that I will die because of this chronic disease. I tell myself that if I must go crazy, then I leave it up to karma. My dear and revered mother also died in a psychiatric hospital. If I must die like my mom did, then so be it. Both of us were fated to live miserable lives. We have the same karma and must repay it the same.

Every passing day I live a life of despair. My body is weak, so is my mind. I am mentally and physically sick. With this reality, I feel that my ongoing life is truly worthless. I am well aware of this fact and this fact has stricken me with heartbrokenness which makes my mental illness flare up more often as time passes. I don’t want to live at all because it’s a burden to others.  

Two years have passed since the verdict of the Court of Appeals, and it’s approaching the third year in December 2010. Soon it will be time for the Supreme Court to deliver the final verdict on the lèse majesté case that the Court of Appeals convicted me for two years and eight months. This time I believe that the Supreme Court will uphold the verdict or give an even longer sentence than that of the Court of Appeals because on 19 February 2010, a friend of mine told me on the phone that an honorable member of the House of Parliament from the wicked and vile Democratic Party proposed to increase the punishment for those who commit lèse majesté, from the original three to fifteen years per offense to five years to twenty-five or fifty years per offense. This punishment is inhumanly cruel, just because a human being allegedly defames the monarchy. The honorable but inhuman Member of Parliament of the Democratic Party proposed this law, and it was approved in principle from the vicious Parliament of Thailand and is in the process of review from the vile senators to approve it as a brutal law. This Democratic MP, like other MPs and other senators, is more loyal and more reverent to the monarchy than to his own father and mother. Therefore, these people make every attempt to maintain the monarchical institution in Thailand until the final day of the earth. Will that be possible? I don’t know. I only know that there are patriots, religious righteous, royalists who are working to make the monarchical institution greater than any and all gods both on Earth and in Heaven.

This proposed increase in the punishment for lèse majesté offenders brought heartache and pain to me and impacted my mental state more than any other occasion. I am terrified that the Court will sentence me to a twenty-five or fifty-year imprisonment when the Supreme Court delivers the verdict for the lèse majesté case I am unfairly accused of.

A journalist (whose name I will not mention) said to me a long time ago that all the provisions in the Constitution, the laws, and the regulations are designed for the ruling elite class to dominate citizens under their rule in all aspects. Therefore, citizens lose the justice, the freedom, the democracy and the peace they deserve to have or to receive from a virtuous ruling class. When the ruling class is without virtue, people lose the justice and freedom they are entitled to in any civilized country. Under this great tragedy, the people do not have rights to speak or complain. Any complaint or mention of the injustice existing in Thai society is unlawful because the law is written by the ruling class who has power over the Thai armed forces. Although injustice is obvious and can be understood with a simple explanation, no one on this land is courageous enough to do so. A rational explanation about the unjust regime is unlawful because the law was written by the ruling elite. This is why I look at Thailand and all Thai people with a melancholic and sorrowful gaze. I feel such a pity for the Thai people living under the rule of this immoral ruling class. Maybe, the reason why those Thai people cannot bring themselves out of the cruel ruling system is precisely because of the karma from their past lives.

2/9

I am terrified by the upcoming decision of the Supreme Court. […] I think I should flee Thailand instead of waiting for the verdict that will incarcerate me for ten years because I don’t want to live in the prison with agony and face tragic death. Before I face tragic death in prison, if I am to be sent to prison, I will suffer much more agony. That is, I have to face difficulty in treating the wound in my flank, for which I have monthly appointments with the physicians at Siriraj Hospital to get the tube and plastic bag changed out. Besides, I will have to face numerous hardships typical of prisoners. There are a number of nuisances in the prison where rules are stricter than any rule outside. In prison, the prisoners have no freedom. That’s a certainty, and if the prisoners face cruel wardens, they risk the punishment of being hit by a heavy baton on the back. The result of such cruel punishment on the unfortunate prisoner could be internally bleeding to death. The autopsy of such prisoners will be performed carelessly and haphazardly by the prison doctor, who will conclude that the deceased died peacefully without any blow from a heavy baton. If the prisoner is alone without relatives, money, or fame, the deceased prisoner will be a piece of garbage; the Poh Teck Tung Organization will keep his body in a cemetery of unmarked graves, waiting for cremation with other unclaimed bodies in the next five or ten years.

Every passing day, I tell myself that I don’t want to suffer in prison and don’t want to die in prison. I wish to live and die outside prison. I wish to live in an environment of freedom and liberty. These are the two values I hold most dear after justice. Yet, what I desire the most is exceedingly hard to come by in Thailand. I want to finally get out of Thailand before I turn seventy in 2011, the next year.

One day, when my fear for the verdict of the Supreme Court reached its limit, I firmly locked the door to my room and piled tables, chairs, and book boxes at the door on the inside. I believed that by doing this, the police officers wouldn’t be able to break into the room to catch and transfer me to court easily. Before breaking in, they would have to go through a few layers of obstacles before getting to me and to drag me to the Supreme Court. I was somewhat relieved to protect myself against the arrest and I feel safe inside my room. I locked myself inside the room for four to five days. I did not leave the premises this entire time and I survived because of the food I had hoarded such as rice, eggs, century eggs, dried fish, and Thai bananas. All this hoarded food could last me more than four to five days. I felt safe from all threats, especially the threat from the decision of the Supreme Court, which I felt was more dangerous than any threat.

While I was in the room, I kept as quiet as possible. I didn’t make any sound to let outsiders know that I was in the room. When I strangely hadn’t left the room for days, one person talked to another person in front of my room:

“Hm, is the man not in his room? Why haven’t we seen him stepping outside his room these days? Did he travel upcountry? Or is he dead inside his room? This unusual disappearance probably means he’s dead. There’s no voice that signals he’s alive.”

This was what they said outside my room. I almost said back in that instant:

“I haven’t died yet. If I did, you would already smell my rotten body.”

Then I realized, I should not say a thing nor make any sound that would allow them to know that I was still inside. I wanted them to believe that I wasn’t in the room so I remained silent.

“We should unlock the door with the key to see if he’s still in there. Why haven’t we heard any sound from him? Even at night, there is no light from his room. This is very strange.”

“True,” the other person agreed. “We should use the spare key to open the door to learn the truth.”

They went to get the key to unlock my door. Right when they were unlocking it, I banged on the door once to let them know that I was still in the room so that they went back. That bang on the door stopped them. They talked among themselves:

“Hm, he is still in the room. But why is he so quiet as if he wasn’t in the room? This is the strangest thing.”

“Uncle, uncle,” a man’s voice called out to me. “Are you alive and well?”

I didn’t reply. I didn’t want to make any noise. My banging on the door was to signal that I was alive and that should be enough. I wanted them to leave my front door so that I could live in peace and quiet the way I wanted.

When they didn’t hear me reply, but they believed that I was still alive because they heard the banging and they didn’t smell any foul odor of a corpse from my room, they left. One of them complained:

“This is weird, very weird. This uncle has locked himself inside his room so quietly as if he wasn’t inside. This is abnormal for someone who is sane. But for a mentally ill person, this behavior is very normal. Is he psychotic or not?”

I almost yelled:

“Mentally sound people shouldn’t be involved in the business of the mentally unsound!” I kept silent though.

When they left my front door, I breathed a sigh of relief and hoped that they would never disturb my peace again.

[…]

2/11

All those days, I locked myself up in the room. I called no one and no one called me except for my son. When he called to ask how I was doing, I would pick up the phone and say I was fine, and I would tell him not to worry.

Locking myself up was not safe. If the police came to drag me to the Supreme Court, I would not be able to resist even though I put a tight lock on the room and obstructed the door from the inside with many, many barriers.

“This is not safe enough,” I told myself, “because police officers can easily break the door to arrest me and they can charge me further with obstruction of arrest. That would allow the Supreme Court to add more time to the punishment already prepared in the verdict.”

Then I thought, there is another way to escape the verdict of the Supreme Court. That is, I must flee Thailand. It would be better and safer. I thought about Dr. Peter Koret who bailed me out in the Court of Appeals for 300,000 baht. If I flee, his 300,000-baht bail would be confiscated. But no matter, I would leave a note on my desk as follows:

“Ae, Papa has fled Thailand to escape the brutal verdict of the Supreme Court, just like what Kamnan Poh, Kamnan Somchai Khunpluem, and Wattana Asavahame escaped from the Supreme Court’s verdicts. I’d like to ask you to please pay the debt of 300,000 baht to Dr. Peter Koret because he bailed me out with 300,000 baht. When I escape, his bail will be confiscated.” I wrote to my daughter.  

Hence, in the firm resolution of one who makes an important decision, I left my room and never returned. My destination was Lao People’s Democratic Republic and from there, I would head to the south of the People’s Republic of China. That would be the final destination of my journey to escape the Supreme Court’s verdict.

This greatest final journey of my life was just like running away from my father’s house in late 1956 when I ran away from home in Nakhon Ratchasima to Udon Thani. This time, I had no belongings for my escape from Thailand except a bundle of clothes with two sets of shirts and shorts, a bowl for shower, a bottle of water, a notebook, a pen and a small amount of money. I didn’t bring my phone nor my ATM card.  

“From now on I will no longer need the ATM card,” I told myself. The ATM card is one thing I am amazed by. It’s really one of the magic cards of the world because humans anywhere on earth can put one of these cards in the ATM machine, press the correct pin, and the money will come out for the card owner to use as they please. This is one of the wonders of the age. I have to thank the Western scientists who came up with this invaluable innovation for humans everywhere to take advantage of when they are in need of money. I am so amazed by how they came up with such a wonderful tool.

I left my place without telling anyone where I was heading or why. This escape was a top secret from everyone, even from my daughter and son. They wouldn’t know of it until several days later, when I would be long gone, and they wouldn’t know where I was traveling to. By then, I might already be in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic or I might be in the People’s Republic of China. I did not wish anyone to know where I was heading. I alone knew the destination of this journey.

From where I lived in Nong Khaem, I took a bus along Phet Kasem Road and arrived at Wongwian Yai. I got off there and walked to King Taksin the Great’s monument. At the monument I knelt and bowed down at the base of the monument to get his blessings for my safe travel. This was like when I bowed to Thao Suranaree’s monument to get her blessings for my safe escape from my father’s house in Nakhon Ratchasima. In Thailand, there are only these two monuments that I bow down and pray to. Besides these two statues, I never bowed down to any one else in this country. The only other things I used to worship regularly were the Buddha images in temples when I was a novice monk more than fifty years ago.

From the monument of King Taksin the Great, I traveled to Mo Chit Bus Terminal to continue my journey to Nong Khai. And from Nong Khai, I would continue to the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. I was sure that by bidding farewell to King Taksin the Great, he would bless me according to my faith, and I would be able to reach my desired destination safely.

From Mo Chit Bus Terminal, I bought a cheap second-class bus ticket to Nong Khai. As soon as the bus moved, I felt a great relief as if this journey of mine would be safe and I would reach the destination as I desired. This was the same feeling I had during my escape from the hell of my father’s house in Nakhon Ratchasima, when I got on the train and it left the station before my father’s employees could find me. This relief was much the same relief I felt five decades ago.

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