Hi everyone! It’s me again and after another very busy week, I'm ready to take another trip down memory lane. When I left off the last time, I told you that this had been a very difficult time for me. I wasn’t happy living with the family in Ban Kruat although Suphattra, who was the daughter who was always kind to me, was like my ‘Guardian Angel'. She must be about 60 years old now and I intend to look for her when I next return to Thailand. I would love to meet with her again to thank her for her kindness when I was a lonely child.
When living there, I hardly visited my own family in my home village as the only time that I could visit them there was during the school holidays. I missed them all terribly and during the 3 years that I stayed with the family in Ban Kruat, my mother only ever came to visit me there once or twice. She never asked me if I was happy she would only say that I needed to be there and that I was to be a good girl, which of course I was......... well, most of the time! J
Even though it was a Government School that I attended, we all had to buy and pay for our schoolbooks twice a year. I can’t remember how much they cost but I remember that it was a lot for my mother as she was a widow by this time with a large family to look after. I certainly never had any money of my own to help with this, other that what Suphattra kindly occasionally gave me.
The teachers at middle school were both male and female and they were all very strict, making sure that their discipline was always obeyed. The school was called Ban Kruat Wittayakarn and it had two buildings. The teachers each had their own classrooms and taught a single subject to around 30 children and like here in Scotland, we walked from class to class during the school day.
We studied many subjects such as the history of Thailand, maths, agriculture, health, cooking of all kinds and of course English! I knew nothing about the English language and was frightened to try it, as I had no confidence.
I never for one moment thought that I would be speaking it every day as I do now!! J I was fairly good at most of my subjects except of course for maths and English. I wonder what I’m with my English now that I have lived in Scotland for over 15 years, compared to the rest of my class??? J
At school, most of our teachers were very firm and it was normal for them to punish a child by striking them with a long bamboo stick if they were found to be misbehaving. The school regime in Thailand was harsh and I was often punished this was me if I didn’t finish my homework on time, arrived late to School in the morning or when I didn’t turn up for a class…. It was usually maths though, as I hated it! L
On one occasion, I clearly remember not finishing my maths homework on time and the teacher being furious. I was made to stand out in front of the class with my arms by my side and the teacher struck me hard with the stick many times across the back of my legs. The blows were so fierce that my skirt flew out at the back as the blows landed and the punishment left horrible blue bruises on my legs. It was so painful and even although I was crying, the teacher didn’t stop. I didn't learn from it though, as it happened to me fairly often!
It may be difficult for people here in the UK to understand this authoritarian school regime but I suppose that it was this way for our own good as the classes could be disruptive at times. When you think about it, many of you around my age or perhaps a bit older will remember the belt or strap here in Scotland and I don’t suppose that it did you any harm, did it ?
Not everything was bad at school though as I loved to read and spend time in the library. I still have one book from that time that was written by Por Intharapalit and I have read more than 50 times now. He was born back in 1912, died in 1968 and his real name was Preecha Intharapalit, but he used the pen name ‘Pon’. His books are recognised by the Thai culture to be amongst the 100 books that must be read. He was a writer and humorist and also wrote the Samgler series of around 2,000 comic books. I really loved his writing as it helped me to develop my life into what it is today..
I had a lot of good friends at school and we had a wonderful time together. I still had a great interest in dance and music and I remember that we used to meet up and sing together. Remember, there were no mobile phones in these days!!!
At School, we each were given our own small garden to look after, measuring approximately 3 metres wide and 5 metres long. Depending on the season, we had to prepare everything ourselves and grow vegetables such as corn, lettuce, nuts and melons all the year round. The teacher then came to check your garden and give us a grade for our work. When the vegetables were ready, we were allowed to take them home for our families.
After school had finished, I had to return to the family that I was living with to start work again, either doing housework or going to collect the water from the well. The family were all much older than me and they used to send me on my bicycle to the market which was about 1km away, to buy them beer and ice. They never appeared to show any interest in my schoolwork and didn’t ask me or encourage me in any way.
Although I had a hard life living with the family, I was never hungry or cold and they did make clothes for me. I was given a bed in a recess of an open room and had a blanket to keep me warm. Despite this hardship, I suppose that I really should thank them as this experience made me the strong person that I am and gave me the determination to succeed in life. I also often went to the Buddhist Temple with the family on a Saturday or Sunday and to this day, my Buddha is still a huge part of my life and now is with me in my shop in Scotland.
As I had to go to the well to collect water for the family every day, I knew most of the people there and made friends with one man called Sakda, well I say a man but he was probably only around 18 years old!!!
I was flattered by his attention at first but soon found out that although he was being very nice to me, he was really interested in Suphattra and he was always asking me to pass on notes and messages to her from him. I met him most days and he would always help me to lift the bucket from the well and to push the heavy barrow up the hill.
On that note, sadly the time has come again for me to sign off for now and get back to making a living for myself. Really it’s no hardship, as I love my work here in Scotland and the people that I treat. J See you all again soon with Part 6!
Posted by Noi McIntyre on August 19, 2019