Guest Story by Lalisa
Cross-cultural relationships can on occasions prove very difficult. Romantic cross-cultural relationships take massive amounts of patience and tolerance in order to be a success. In a Thai – foreign cross-cultural relationship the foreigner on occasions has great difficulty understanding the Thai way. To be honest the same can said for the Thai on understanding the way of the foreigner where ever the foreigner is from. A while ago whilst in Bangkok a lady called Lalisa confided in me about her relationship with an Italian man and how she struggled to understand his ways. These were extracts translated from a journal she kept.
At the end of this story Lalisa talked about her first love who was Thai and said that he had been the real love in her life. Obviously a Thai – Thai romantic relationship has no cultural difficulties I thought. I was wrong in a sense as problems still arise. I once again thank Lalisa for giving me an insight in to her world and for the translated Thai language version of this story.
Thai Love Story: How Can I Love A Soldier
I was never very confident about having boyfriends when I was younger as I never believed that I was one of the prettier girls as it were. I know it’s always said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I suppose I struggled to meet those with the right type of admiring eye’s to see. I was however a very influential and popular person and had a lot of ”pretty girl” friends. In fact both girls and boys saw me as a good friend and I became very good at matchmaking. I think if I had charged a fee I would have done very well indeed.
One day at school there was a real flurry of excitement going on among the girls. A new boy student had arrived and apparently he was very, very handsome. The excitement went on a very long time and I heard about him for what seemed like 6 months continuous from every girl in school. His name was สุธี Sutee and he really was popular. I could not understand why I seemed to be the only girl never to have seen him. I asked all my friends to inform me of his whereabouts as soon as they saw him. I was desperate to know who he was.
One day soon after I had the chance to meet Sutee as my older friend pointed him out to me. Sutee was walking with a large group of friends and I must admit I started to wonder what all the fuss was about. I was disappointed as he was not anywhere near as handsome as his popularity suggested. I said to my friend ” so this is the almighty handsome man” I am sorry, but for me he is not handsome. Walking next to Sutee was a man far more handsome and it was he that got my attention. I said to my friend quietly do you know who the man next to Sutee is and what is his name? With that my big mouth friend shouted ” Hey Narwin… Lalisa likes you. Then Narwin and all the men in the group turned to look at me. Oh my god … I was so embarrassed and my face turned to the colour of a tomato. I could not possibly stand there any longer and was out of the area in seconds. I may have been embarrassed, but something magical happened to me the day I was introduced to Narwin.
Nawin was also very popular at school as he was an extremely handsome man and a bit of a naughty boy as well. He had lots of girlfriends and the Thai calls this (cao shuu maak – เจ้าชู้มาก). Not only was it a massive surprise to me that he chose to flirt with me, but it was also a big surprise to most of the other girls at my school. The relationship was cemented when he stopped seeing other girls and became serious with me. On that note the whole school knew we were now boyfriend and girlfriend and I could not believe it.
After a while the time arrived when I had to leave school to go and study in Bangkok. It was a very sad time as Narwin still attended school in Lopburi and we were unable to see each other, but we did stay in contact via letters and the phone. This was the routine for about a year, but if I thought this method was tough on a relationship then worse was yet to come as he announced that he was going be a draftee. As soon as he told me this I became very angry as I don’t like the soldier. The main reason I don’t like the Thai soldier is that they are very poor. I could not see how he could be a match for me this upmarket Bangkok student who was going places in the world.
As a child growing up I had always had everything I wanted. Even after I got older I was able to have dinner at the mall after school and buy expensive things for myself. My family were financially well off and I wanted for very little. In fact we even had a nanny. So now here I am looking forward to a future as a poor soldiers girl. How could he walk with me, how can he be with me. This was my mindset that of sheer dislike for a soldier.
How could I tell my friends of this situation I would die of embarrassment. (Of course this was the bad thought of a teenage girl who thought she was going places). I had to do something about this problem.So I decided to finish the relationship. I wrote and told Narwin that I was moving to a new place in Bangkok and would forward on the new address as soon as I got settled in. I told him not to send anymore letters to my current address as they won’t reach me. After that I stopped contacting him.
Almost a year past by of my studies in Bangkok and finally I had an opportunity to go back home to Lopburi and see my family. I missed my family so much and was so looking forward to being with them again. It was nice to catch up with my home based friends as well and there was so much to talk about. It was my friends who informed me of some very surprising news. They told me that Narwin had been looking for me and wanted to know how I was. I said to my friends ” Why is he looking for me, tell him to forget all about me. However one of my friends said that she had some very interesting news about Narwin …. Oh yeah I thought. She said that he tried to find you because now he is the owner of expropriated land. The Government wanted his land for the Pasak Jolasid Dam and now his land has made money for him. I must admit it came as quite a shock I mean it just goes to show that you can never really predict the future.
You know everything has turned full circle as it’s now my turn to find him (ha, ha, ha). I know that everyone will be thinking it’s because of the money he has come into, but that is certainly not true. I reflect back over our time together and realised that no man ever loved and cared for me the way he did. No man has ever listened or understood me the way he did. I think back over our time together and our conversations together and I suddenly recall his dream. I start to feel guilt and sadness over my actions as I remember him telling me of his dream to become a soldier. It’s as though somebody finally turned on the lights and I could see how unfair I had been. I began feeling immense sadness over my actions. I could do nothing about the past, but only pray that one day our paths will cross again.
I returned to Bangkok to continue my studies, but all I could think about was Narwin. The pain inside of me appeared to grow stronger each day as I realised what a fool I’d been and how badly I’d treated him. I knew it was him I now wanted and I could not and would not ever love another man.
I searched for Narwin on a daily basis. Whenever I was in Bangkok I constantly searched if I went to the countryside I kept an ongoing vigil. Even when I went to make merit and after praying for my parents and myself I always prayed for the chance to meet him again. Finally before sleep I would always run over our story together to keep it strong and fresh in my mind. This was my daily routine.
One day in 2009, my aunt (Mum’s younger sister) needed my help. She invited me along to a meeting in Ramkhamhang road. Bangkok that was to do with her direct selling business. As I got comfortable in my seat waiting for whatever extravaganza was about to be presented on stage …. I almost fainted. I could not believe it, but there in the row of seats directly in front of me sat Narwin. I kept looking as I thought it was probably an illusion. I mean I had thought about him and only him for so long I was sure my mind was playing tricks on me. I kept looking, but I was 100 percent sure it was him.
After a while he left his seat and went out of the meeting room so I asked Nid if the man who was sitting next to her was called Narwin. Nid is the niece of my uncle in law. Nid confirmed that Narwin was his name and said he was her younger brother in law? Nid asked me do you know him? I said I believed I went to school with him and he was my senior in Lopburi. On returning to the meeting room Narwin was informed by Nid that I had asked about him, but I never gave my name. After a few minutes he came and sat next to me and inquired as to when I attended school and what my year was. When he knew of my study year he asked me if I knew a lady called Lalisa as she was his girlfriend at school. I felt quite sad as this mean’t he could not remember me. I asked him where she lived and he gave the exact directions in Lopburi to my home. He talked about his time with Lalisa. About the times they went to the movies together and the times he used to walk her home from school. Suddenly I interrupted and said and you also used to write letters to Lalisa when you were a draftee…..right? He looked at me with a surprised facial expression and said ” how do you know that”. I said that I knew Lalisa well as she was a very close friend. He begged me for Lalisa’s telephone number and I gave him my phone number.
I told him I must go to the toilet but really I could not wait to telephone my friend and give her the full story of what had happened. My friend was happy for me, but she reminded me to stay calm as my relatives would be observing me. The situation worsened in respects that Narwin figured out that Lalisa was me and he carried on exactly as he used to by taking care of me. It was becoming an embarrassing situation as he did not seem to care what his sister-in-law thought neither was he worried about my aunt either. At the end of the meeting he told his sister-in-law that he would take me home. When I asked him how his sister-in-law would get back home if he took me home, he said taxi.
I told him that I had arrived with my aunt and that I must return home with my aunt. As we said goodbye he told me that later in the evening he would talk to his wife and ask for a divorce and then marry me. I must admit I thought he was joking. However early in the morning he rang to inform me that he had asked for a divorce and now he had acquired everything in life to make me happy.
The situation made me very uneasy however much I really wanted him and I knew that if we met again that something bad could happen as I am not sure that I trust myself. He often contacted me by telephone, but I managed to avoid meeting with him. Eventually all of my family and relatives knew about this story. It had become top of the gossip list. My family were also not happy with the situation and were concerned as to what my decision would be. I have to admit it was a very difficult time for me. Should I become liberated, follow my heart and be with him. Or should I do what’s suppose to be right, follow my head and lose the only man I have ever really loved?
On my birthday he asked me what I wanted and said he could give me anything a new car, a new home or whatever my heart desired. Of course I was flattered as well as being in love, but I asked him for only one thing. I said to him ” if you can give me anything then I ask that you give me back my old life and stop contacting me”. I ask you this, because if you don’t I am worried that I will steal you from your wife and I don’t want to do that as we are so close. You are not my relative because you are the nephew in law of my uncle in law, but the reason is, I pity your wife. I knew my actions were causing problems in my family and pain for his wife. His wife’s sister had already talked to me about how much his wife had started to drink, smoke and look older since she knew about our relationship.
I am a woman and I know how his wife feels. If I run a way with him then he and I will be happy, but everybody else sad. I have my beloved family that mean everything to me and I care for their feelings far more than mine. How could I ever look at them again without my shame showing. No, I cannot do this. He cried and said that I never loved him. I told him not to think or talk like that as I loved him so much. I loved him to the point that I could never love anyone else. There has never been a day in the last 19 years where I have not thought about you, but this situation is bad. You belong to another. After that I stopped contacting him. He called me many times, but I did not answer, he left answer machine messages to say he had broken down in the car and needed help. Finally I answered the phone and he told me that I was cruel to him and ask me for just one chance to make me happy in life and he told me he loves me.
This was the last conversation that we ever had as I never contacted him again. My faith say’s that to steal the wife or husband from another is a big sin and I decided sadly to cut ties. The contact was stopped when love was in full bloom, but he did not belong to me. He is obviously not the man who fate prepared for me.