Monday, 5 March 2007

The meal ticket

Young Knuckles has lost his Dad, but can't get back to Britain for the funeral.

'I want to get back for some loving, but I am stuck here on the other side of the world,' he told me, in between sobs. We met at Mum's shop last night.

Knuckles' parents divorced when he was still a teen. He is close to his Mum, but angry with his Dad. His Dad was rich, but his Mum is not, and cannot afford to send him an air fare.

The last time we met, a few nights ago, I had told Knuckles he must reconcile with his Dad. 'If he dies, it will be too late. Do it for your own peace of mind,' I said.

Knuckles knew back then that his father had just died, but chose not to tell me. Oh, well.

His Thai girlfriend was less than sympathetic when he broke the news to her that his Dad, 57, had just died. 'All you ever do is give me your problems,' she said.

I do not know Knuckles' girlfriend. She works at a bar in a well-known backpacker haunt, and likes to chat up farang men. Until recently, Knuckles worked at the same place, but now seems to have grown bored.

Isra, younger sister to Mum, the shop-owner, does know the girlfriend, and tried to see it from the Thai's point of view. 'She has been with Knuckles only three months, and did not know the father,' she told me.

Isra likes farang men, too, and when she saw Knuckles start to cry was quick to offer him a tissue.

Her next comment was a surprise.

'She probably saw him as a meal ticket and a way to get free sex. But now that they have been together a while she is bored, and looking for someone else. She can dump him and find a new boy without any problem,' she told me in Thai, so he would not know what cynical (yet ironically self-aware) advice she had conveyed.

Knuckles' girlfriend is in her early 30s, while Knuckles is just 27.

'Do you mind if I not pass that on?' I asked.

'Thais are not big on grieving over death,' I told Knuckles.

However, the girlfriend did help in other ways. Yesterday, she hired a mini-van and with friends and Knuckles in tow, went on a boozy tour of karaoke shops. They were still going at 11am today, when the motor gave out, and Knuckles was called upon to give the van a push.

Knuckles complained, as farang are inclined to do. But I urged him to look at it positively.

'She took you out so you could forget about your Dad,' I said.

'Still, she's a bitch,' he said.

Knuckles believes his Thai experiment has failed. He does not want to return home with his tail between his legs.

Leaving the girlfriend will be tough, if Knuckles wants to stay on, as living alone here is hard. However, if he really wants some of that family lovin', then he might be better off going home.

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