It had been a while since I had been to Khon Kaen, Thailand but I knew the way to my wife’s family’s village.
As I walked up the long rising hill towards the temple I knew that just beyond was her parents’ home.
I entered and crossed through the temple grounds looking at vaguely familiar objects while anticipating the reception I was sure to receive.
As I walked through the gateway leaving the temple I stopped abruptly in my tracks. Where was the sleepy village I asked myself? It had only been 19 years.
Nothing looked familiar. So I stopped at a little home store and asked the woman in Thai where was house #136? “Bon (house) nung (1) saam (3) hoke (6) you tee nigh (where is)?”
She just stared at me like she’d seen an alien or something. Then I realized that I WAS an alien, a furlong.
Just then a young man approached and asked what I was looking for? I asked him the same question, where was house #136?
He stood there trying to figure out how to answer. Then he pointed down the street and said go across 2 streets and turn left.
I thanked them both (Kop Khon mock Kop) and headed down the street and turned left as instructed.
I didn’t recognize anything so to another family store I asked the same question, where is house #136?
I got no response until I opened my wallet and showed a picture of me standing next to my wife.
Then she began yelling and I thought it would bring the police, but no out from the next building came a barber.
He wasn’t just any barber, but a brother-in-law I had never met.
He took me to his house while one of his sons went to get his mom.
Soon my sister-in-law came and showed me her parents’ house still standing behind her place.
The village had grown quite large compared to the sleepy village I had last been in 19 years earlier.
Believe it or not that was 33 years ago and when I go back I still remember that day like it was yesterday.
Most of my wife’s family is gone now, except a sister-in-law who still lives in her same house, and an older sister living in a town not too far away. Both are widows, with children and grandchildren living nearby.
I miss getting my hair cut by my special barber during my trips.
Memories……how they linger! – rtm