Monday, January 11, 2010

Coffee Joy

We sat on a woven mat eating our chunks of chocolate cake. Three slices. Two people. Someone miscounted and we ended up having to push the extra four spoons off to one side as we scraped the dark streaks from our styrofoam plate. "Mot ru yang?"-"Is that all of it?" "ahaha. Mai ruu, mong mai hen."-"ahaha. I dunno, I can't see." I pushed my flipflops out of the van's shadow and leaned forward with my legs crossed, elbows resting in the worn heels. I could just make out Ajaun Doe. Her rather plump figure swayed back and forth with a little shake of her head as she crooned into a wireless mic from the edge of the deck. My mom had taken a seat and sat with her own microphone. Her feet rested on top of her red and blue crocs and she leaned into the side of the table. She picked at the food there. Green vegetables, chinese rice noodles, roasted chicken, pork, and egg filled squid. Her creaky voice was barely audible except for when Doe would take a break to shout something to my sisters and the night would giggle.

Tonight is my sister Joy's birthday party.

"Thwack!" A sharp tap to my knee made me pull back. "Arai nia?"-"What's this?" "Ben arai, luk?"-"What's the matter, child?" "Mai ben arai. Elle du Maeh ka"-"Nothing's the matter. I'm watching Mom."

Everyone spoke in low mutters. Bpa-Dad had, much to the glee of the employees, lay down and stuck his head through the railing on the deck. His laugh is deep, loud, and always ends with "ahahayeee" when he talks to me. Jang, my 25 year old sister came and leaned against Bpa. Resting her head on his shoulder and splitting the low mutters with her higher pitched jokes and giggle. Jang is a sweetheart.

When we didn't face the light from the deck we could see all the stars. "P'Joy chop dao arai?"-"CoffeeJoy, what's your favorite star?" "Du si? Anan."-"See it? Those ones." The tiniest dipper lay just on the edge of our sight. "Me too." I said to myself.

CoffeeJoy and I poured more orange Fanta and chucked ice cubes at P'Wad and one of the other employees. I didn't have much time to get lost in my own thoughts. An excited shout caused CoffeeJoy to grab my wrist and pull me down to the other end of the deck where everyone had whipped out there cell phones and focused their dull beams on a long, thick, slithering mass snaking it's way through the current. "Anaconda!" After watching it float off down stream we shook off our shudders and made our way back to our mat. "Elle yaak wai nam mai?"-"You want to go swimming?" "Eeeek!"

The "Happy Birthday" song is more like a chant in Thailand.


  1. It's good to see that you're writing. I wish I had documented some of my life-changing experiences at the time. It's important to share our stories from around the world and observe how they connect to weave the fabric of all humans.

  2. Amazing photo. I could feel the mood on that night.