Nim was a family man. Like many poor farmers in the villages or rural Thailand he held strong beliefs. All he lived for were his wife, daughters, nephews and any other member of the extended family. Not a wealthy man and one who was blighted by every farming venture he tried turning to dust in his hands but one who surrounded by family remained happy and upbeat.
Now a few years ago it just so happened that Nim’s latest venture into a new piece of farming machinery or was it a new crop had gone disastrously and predictably wrong resulting in another pressing debt that needed to be paid off. It wasn’t a time of year when work was plentiful in Uttaradit, so being illiterate the only option was a trip to one of the building sites of central Thailand for months of daily toil until enough was saved to cover the lost farm investment. Leaving the family would be hard but having the family land repossessed would only leave them landless and forced to leave the village, so there was no option. Tum, Nim’s friend, recommended a site in Rayong in the industrial east of the country where they could both go.
That is where Nim went. A temporary career move meaning a shared corrugated tin hut with 20 others and daily minimum wages, but Nim through life had learned to live on little and could eat all day on what others would view as scraps. It would take less than a year and there was the Songkhran holiday or Thai New Year during which everyone had a few days off and went home. Work was hot hard and debilitating and tired nights just sleep, but time went quickly and Songkhran was approaching quickly. Tum then one day approached Nim and said that he had a chance to go home and be with his family and not stuck so far from home. Of course Tum needed help. Not help with money as Tum had some of that but he needed someone to just guarantee him with a thumb print and he could get his hands on a second hand car which would of course open the doors for making money back home. Well of course Nim wasn’t one to keep a man from his family and duly gave his backing to the scheme and Tum was back to Uttaradit to get the car and start a new chapter in his life.
One day closer to the advent of Songkhran the kids of the village noticed a stranger in the village. They quickly ran to the adjacent farmland and got their parents. Strangers were rare and usually bad news in the village. Quickly confronted, this man in a shirt and slacks and with no dirt under his nails, looking more like an office worker or teacher than someone who should be treading the unpaved dust track of the first soi of the village, told the story. Tum had put a down payment on this car and then with keys in hand hadn’t been seen again and certainly hadn’t made any other payments. Now it was time if Tum couldn’t be found for Nim to settle the outstanding amount.
Not exactly over aware of any legal complexities it was still apparent to auntie Yom, Nim’s long suffering wife, that something needed to be done. That silly husband of hers making sure others were happy without thinking. Now the land would be gone very soon without action. So it was get the kids and nephews and nieces searching for Tum and the missing car before it was too late but with Songkhran approaching rapidly another more pressing issue needed resolving. Nim was coming home in only a few days and there was no way the village gossip mill would not inform him of the news.
There was no option. Auntie Yom was on the first bus to Rayong on the long circuitous all stops journey. Nim was surprised to see his wife walk into the camp unannounced immediately thinking it could only mean the worst. No phone call but a visit. It must be serious. However, on learning that his wife who knew how hard he worked for everyone back home and didn’t want to see him waste his time travelling when she could spend time with him there and of course joking about checking he had no new women, Nim was somewhat mystified but it did spare him a long journey and in only another couple of months he would have the money for his debt repayment and that would be all over. Then he would have plenty of time for family. It was the first and only time Nim and his wife had spent time away and alone together. It was a good and different Songkhran.
Meanwhile the whole entourage had spread far ands wide looking for Tum. It wasn’t long after the holiday that the car was seen outside a village casino, which sounds grand but basically means a wooden shack at which people know to go to gamble. A quick phone call to the man and the car was gone freeing uncle Nim from his obligation and leaving a somewhat embarrassed Tum to decide that leaving the village for a short or maybe long while was a good decision.
A few months later Nim returned with the good news that he was now in a position to rid the family of the debt and everyone could relax and be together again. He was happy to be back and it was good to be with those close to him again. Sometime, he thought he must walk round to Tum’s house and see how his plans had worked out, but now was time to catch up on those closest to him.