The following is an excerpt from a story told to me by a 27-year-old woman in Bangkok. It is pretty much as told without embellishment or any attempt to change the style of a simply told story. Further excerpts will follow. The story belongs to Wan and not to me.
I was brought up in the village. A small farming village in northern Thailand. I attended the local school until grade 9 and was about top of the class. By that time I had a boyfriend. I kept it quiet. Like all small farming villages mine was very conservative and as kid and teenager I could not do anything that wasnt approved of by my family, and they judged everything. That was not different for other kids. We didn’t know any different and didn’t even really have the opportunity to do things our leaders didn’t like anyway.
To complete school I was to head to the town twenty or thirty kilometers away. Village schools then and even now rarely teach beyond grade 9, so to complete high school it was off to the town. On my first few days at the new school I soon realised that being top in the village school didn’t mean top in the town school. In fact I was bottom of every class by a long way. What was taught in the village and town were different. Very different.
Not used to the humiliation of being able to understand little of what was going on I soon found other attractions in the town. Interesting shops selling things I would love to have, roller skating, ice cream parlours, video games, and then there were the drugs although I had already started them a little in the village. The good thing was that none of my family were in the town. They were all farmers or worked a long way away, so there was nobody to tell me what was good, bad or what I should or shouldnt do or think. The bad thing was that everything cost money and my ten baht a day was for a cheap school meal and wouldn’t pay for anything.
Another thing I discovered though was that there were old men who were always around who were interested in girls. I had already had sex with my boyfriend so doing it with an old man who didn’t know where my village was, and who didn’t know my family was easy. That took care of the money needed. I already had the trip to town and time as I wasnt going to school anymore.