She is back in my bed again.
She is back in my heart again.
As we exit the MRT at Huay Kwang the sky is heavy.
‘It rain’, she says.
‘Storm come’, I say.
I ask her why she wants to pray.
‘I think you know Dawid’.
I have no idea but I feel nervous for a reason I cannot tell.
She holds my hand as I almost trip over the shoes piled at the entrance to the Papikanet shrine at Rachada, Bangkok. Papikanet is what Thai people call Ganesh, the elephant headed god of the Hindus. The Thai animist form of Buddhism adopted Ganesh, the remover of obstacles.
The heavy smoke of incense hangs in the air. Can you smell it floating in the humid, still air of the shrine and street outside as it mixes with the cooking smells coming from street traders and car exhausts as the traffic rushes past this place of ornate and fragrant holiness?
Sweat is pouring from my head. It is difficult to see.
A garland of yellow flowers and a bunch of joss sticks are thrust toward me. She looks at me quizzically as if I should know what to do.
She takes my hand again, leads me to a space on the floor.
I kneel beside her. I am the only farang (white foreigner) in the shrine.
‘You must have a wish in your heart, koh jai mai, (understand?)’ she asks.
‘Yes’, I say numb with something spiritual? Something momentous feels as if it will happen, something otherworldly? We pray. I glance at her and see she is asking for something.
I feel her hair against my naked arm. A shock runs through my body and a wave of happiness washes through my stupid, senseless, hopeful heart.
She is praying and holding the burning joss sticks in her palms. I, like a child, copy my teacher.
Ganesh, remove from my heart the bloated pride, the bitterness, the longing, the envy, the brutality, the violence, the jealousy, the desire to be adored that is stopping me from loving this woman by my side no matter what she does for a living.
Stopping me from finding simple happiness and the love I have searched for all my life and failed to find or rejected so many times.
Ganesh, let someone love me, me, a lonely man, in this strange and beautifully fucked up country.
Ganesh, let her love me, let her understand that love is not money, not something you can buy. Let her see my heart and understand that I am only a man. I can break.
We stand and make our offerings of flowers, red Fanta, milk and incense.
The sweat running down my face covers the tears. She pretends she does not see. We shake wooden vases filled with numbered sticks until one falls out.
Her number is 13, mine 3. She rips a sheet of Thai script for each number from a pad hanging on the wall. We leave. I buy her a fabric rose from the street, it may outlive the Valentine rose. She smiles, hugs me. I am transported. A foolish balloon buoyed up on her affection.
We sit at a strange terrace bar in Ratchada and listen to an acoustic duo sing and play sad Thai pop songs, drink Singha and eat coconut fish.
She reads the Thai script. It is written in ‘old’ Thai and difficult for her to translate.
She says I have a ‘hot’ heart and have many problems as it makes me ‘sick inside’ and unhappy. Money is hard for you to find. She looks at me meaningfully.
She tells me that she prayed for us. She made a vow to Ganesh, ‘If we can be married, I will make an offering of fruit’.
I begin to tell her my wish, ‘I know what you wish for Dawid’.
My perception of what is real and what is not is not is fracturing, unpeeling the longer I am in this country.
She reads her own fortune as predicted in the script, ‘ I will always find money. That will never be a problem for me. But you are like a tree that bears no fruit and in the hot, dry season has no water’. She begins to cry as she reads this part.
Tears run down her face and she quickly wipes them away. We look at each other and in that look our future is writ. This moment will never pass. When we lay dying, this moment will stand as a monument to what could have been but never was.
I pull her close and whisper in her ear, ‘ I will be your water’. She lays her head on my shoulder in a gesture that is so much more than words.
If she could make me understand that her heart is mine and that her body is just meat we could be happy. But I am farang. No matter how I try, I cannot share any part of her. That night we sleep together, the touch of her hair, her skin, her breathing, so precious to me and so easily forgotten by any other man.
I will never recover from this night, from this girl. There is not enough life left in me, not enough time left for me to forget her. I am utterly lost.