Pah Leurat - Wednesday, July 7
Today the girls got up early to give alms to the monks. Then after breakfast we taught at Pah Tao Pattana, a wonderful small school across the river where I chanced to meet an old student. She's 31 now and has a two-year-old daughter, the same age Benyapa was when I taught Hatai. It was a wonderful and very emotional experience for both of us.
We hugged and hugged — very rare in Thai culture — and both shed tears of joy over and over as we reminisced about the good times we'd shared in the classroom, at English Club in the school library, working on our newspaper, going on excursions in the same old Isuzu pickup I still drive today, and just hanging out at our house or in the river.
Hatai was one of a dozen of my most dedicated English learners, and she says at least three others are now working nearby. She will round them all up for a reunion as soon as my family and I return from the island.
Very touching, and very rewarding, to realize that I had meant so much to those girls, and maybe equally touching for her to realize that she and her friends had meant so much to me.
For Benyapa it was a special moment to hear Hatai reminiscing about all the same stories she's heard me tell over and over. Hatai's recollections and even her words were nearly identical to mine. Sigh. My eyes moisten again just writing this. In a word, all sweet.