Saturday, 30 December 2006

Coming back to life (part 1)

Slowly, the colour is returning to Maiyuu's cheeks, after a rough couple of days in which, at one point, he contemplated leaving this life.

Yesterday, he made a Thai soup, a delicious mix of beef and vegetables. In the morning, he made me guay kai, and we shared a glass of fruit juice. He went shopping for household goods, while I massaged his feet, his shoulders, and his aching head, which just hours before he had filled with thoughts of loneliness, solitude and despair.

Christmas is a tough time, mainly because of the social demands which friends place on us. The Christmas bonus is out, and people are keen to hit the streets and have a good time. The thought of another night indoors with the boyfriend does not hold much appeal.

Under the influence of this baleful Christmas spirit, we slipped back into the old, unfortunate pattern of our lives, where we each spend hours away from home, and each other.

A couple of days before Christmas, Maiyuu disappeared at midday, to go to Chatuchak Market. I did not see him again until 5am the next day.

In between the market and home, he worked, and then went out on the town. The next day he slept almost the entire day, which meant I was effectively without his company for another 12 hours.

In the evening I left home myself to go to work, before both of us went out that night again.

I miss my boyfriend, and during these long absences I feel our emotional bonds getting weaker.

If he comes home after 24 hours away, I expect to see some evidence that he has thought of home. Sometimes I am lucky: he will turn up with a grocery item, or some small present for me.

More often, however, he returns empty-handed. This tells me that the previous 24 hours really belonged to work or his friends.

One day last week, we argued for hours. Maiyuu insists that most of the time he spends away, he is working, trying to improve his life. I just have to wait it out, and get on with forging a life of my own.

Lately, I have made progress: I have met a group of women friends, who run a massage clinic in my market. I have also befriended a kathoey neighbour, and even met a bunch of firefighters stationed opposite my condo.

But it often seems like wasted energy, particularly when I could be spending that time more enjoyably with boyfriend Maiyuu, in the comfort of home.

As we argued, Maiyuu's usual feisty, argumentative spirit drained away. He just took the verbal blows which I rained on him. He sat slumped against his bed, and his body sank lower and lower. I should have read the signs that he had run out of strength.

'You are your boss are c*nts. You are never here because you choose to stay with him. If you like his company more than mine, then you should live with him,' I said.

I spoke too bluntly, and left him little room to manoeuvre. I told him he was welcome to stay, but I wanted his behaviour to change.

A couple of nights later, when we argued again, I abused Maiyuu without remorse. I no longer cared whether Maiyuu stayed or left. His head bowed lower and lower. He did not fight his corner, because his resistance had run out. He looked scared.

When I woke the next day, I found him lying on his back on his bed, his eyes wide open. I doubt he had slept, nor eaten since the night before.

The previous day, before our argument, I had asked him to cut my hair, which he now did in silence. He took great care, as he moved the electric hand razor around my head, as if he knew this would be the last time he would do it.

Maiyuu has often talked about how enjoys cutting the hair on my big farang head, and massaging my big farang feet. 'I will miss those big feet,' he once told me, on a previous occasion when we talked about splitting up.

On this day, as Maiyuu cut my hair, we talked about matter-of-fact things. He sounded polite, even friendly.

He had actually decided the night before that he might have to leave.

'Why don't you live with your boss?' I had asked.

'He does not want me, and I do not want to live with my friends,' he replied.

Maiyuu had left himself with few options.

'I will not take anything. I will leave your life with the clothes I am wearing and a small bag,' he told me that night.

Maiyuu and I have been to the wall before. I knew he was not really planning to walk away, to start a new life elsewhere.

In mid-afternoon, after the hair cut, I saw him writing a letter. I knew what this meant: he intended the letter to be his last communication with his friends.

'Please give this note to my friends, if we do not meet again,' he told me, as l walked out the door.

I do not like self-indulgent talk about suicide. I did not want to be home while he tied up his loose ends.

Even if in the end he did not take his own life, I do believe he was contemplating it at that moment. He had been without sleep or food for hours, so would not have been thinking well, or clearly.

In truth, Maiyuu had not mentioned the word, but I knew what he was thinking.

'I have no one in this life. My parents are dead, and if I lose you there will be no one left,' he told me once.

Those words echoed through my head as I left home. I just needed to get out, so decided to walk to the local shopping mall.

I did not care what happened next, I told myself. I was beyond caring about our relationship, as I myself felt wrung out. Two people can go on fighting only so long.

I called kathoey Bic. 'Maiyuu is planning to do himself harm. Please go and see him,' I asked her.

Ont he way to the mall, I spent 30 minutes watching young men playing ta kraw on a grassy side strip.

At the mall, I spent half an hour looking at shops, many of which Maiyuu and I had visited as a couple over the years, to buy items for home.

Here was the shop where we bought our furniture; there, the store where we bought out first television.

I was just about to leave when Maiyuu sent me text messages, where he thanked me for giving him a home, feeding him and clothing him. It was now time he moved on, he said.

Evidently Bic had failed to dissuade him. I learnt later that all this reliable friend did was call him on the telephone, and invite him to her room.

The initial message left me unmoved, but the next one hit home.

'I would like to keep a lock of your hair, which I cut just this morning,' he said.

'You don't have to worry that I will take anything. I just ask to stay in the bathroom for a while, to breathe in the air,' he said.

I could play being Mr Cool no more. I had to get home, to get back to him. I could not let him do harm to himself.

Obstacles still lay in the way. An the entrance to the condo, I bumped into Nam the kathoey. He asked me cheerily where I was going. 'To stop my boyfriend jumping out the window,' I could have told him, but didn't.

Inside the condo, I found another obstacle: I had to wait for the lift to take me to our ninth-floor room.

The condo only has one lift, and it was on another inch-by-inch ascent to the top levels. It would be ages before it returned. I would have to run instead.

Getting up nine flights of stairs at speed was exhausting, especially in my state of panic. I tossed up whether to go looking for him on the roof, just two floors above, or go straight to the room. I opted for the room. I unlocked the door, and called out his name. Silence.

The room was tidy, as if the occupant had spent the day preparing to leave. The bathroom door was shut. I tried the handle. Locked.

By this time I could no longer contain myself. I tried to kick down the door, but it barely budged.

now, see part 2

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