It’s me again and ready to time travel back to around 40 years ago when I was just about to leave my primary school and begin the next chapter of my life. Unfortunately this was to be a very sad and unsettled period in my life. L
I remained at our village primary school for 5 years until I reached 12 years of age and it was then that a tragedy was to hit our family when my father died suddenly. He was only 52 years old and his death left my 40-year-old mother distraught and with 6 children to look after.
I remember that my father had been ill for a short time before although I don’t really know what his illness was. He went to a city that was around 100 kilometres away for treatment and my mother went with him. They had lived there before I was born and they had many relatives living in that area.
We were left at home and my elder sister and an aunt looked after us but that was the last time I saw my father when he left to go for treatment. His funeral took place in the city and he was cremated there so we didn’t get to attend. I missed both my mother and father terribly when they were away and I was totally shocked when I was told about his death. My mother returned home soon after that to look after us.
My elder sister and two older brothers were old enough to look after themselves and help my mother where they could although my younger two sisters were at an age where they both needed constant care and the youngest was still being breastfed.
Being a middle child in the family, I felt totally lost and it was as if the family had forgotten me, as the other 5 children each had there place, either helping my mother or being cared for by her.
Feeling alone and still at a fairly young age, I believed that nobody was paying attention to my needs or to me and as a result I was deeply unhappy. At the primary school, all of the other children were excited, as they were about to move to the middle School that was located in a village around 8 kilometres away. I couldn’t understand why nothing was being said about what was going to happen to me.
I realise that a distance of 8 kilometres will not seem far to you but considering our lack of money and transport, it was a long way for us. Because of this distance and the lack of transport, it was normal for the village children to move to live with other families in the town where the middle school was located. The children however would be expected to help the richer families that they were staying with, by doing household chores, in order to pay for their keep.
Eventually, because that I had previously shown and interest and some talent for music and dance at primary school, it was decided that I should go to live with an aunt and her family in a town around 100 kilometres away where a music school was located.
I was taken there but it became obvious from the start that I was going to be used like a slave, working for the family from early in the morning to late at night and there was no mention of me ever attending the dance school for a long time.
I soon began to feel very lonely, isolated and deeply unhappy but eventually after a period of a few months I was taken to the music school and I remember being really surprised when I was told what I would be doing there. Surprisingly, that was the same day that my older brother came and took me back home so I never had the chance to go the school after that.
However soon after this, I was then taken to live with another family in the town where the mid school was located as it was only 8 kilometres from home. Even though I was much closer to home, the lack of transport and money still meant that I could still only see my family at holiday times and this was very hard for a 12 year old girl who had just lost her father, to cope with.
My new home was with a family of 10 and the father was a fearful looking Policeman who was nearing retirement. His wife didn't work, as she was busy looking after their 8 children. I was given a room and provided with food but was expected to get up at 5am and work for the family before going to School at 8am and then on returning to their home after School, I was again expected to work again well into the late evening.
I had many household chores to do while I lived there including collecting water for the family from a well that was about two kilometres away. I had to push the water container on a barrow, which was relatively easy going on the way to the well when he container was empty, but it was far more difficult on the way back when it was full of water.
When going to collect the water, I used to take my time as it got me away from the house and away from my chores and when I eventually returned to the house, I would always give the excuse that was a queue of people waiting at the well.
It was only a little white lie! J
Although my elder brothers had previously stayed with this family and appeared to like it, I hated living there with them and I felt that they did not like me either. Looking back though, I suppose that I was a rather difficult teenager and often stayed out late with friends without their permission so perhaps this was understandable to a degree.
One of the elder daughters in the family however was really nice and kind to me. She was a teacher and used to buy me clothes that I could wear and occasionally she also gave me a few Baht so that I could buy things for myself.
Sadly, it’s now again time for me to put my pen away for the day and concentrate on my massage work here in Scotland. I am however looking forward to coming back to speak to you again soon with Part 5 of my story.
Posted by Noi McIntyre on August 13, 2019