OUT OF THAILAND
If you think stars are beautiful, as likely as not you’ll think babies are, too. I’ve just been given a hard time for more than two days by a two-year-old if you will believe a sixty-seven-year-old man can be punished by a two-year-old baby girl. Anyway, it happened! At the time I couldn’t make head or tail of it. Why had I been singled out for special treatment? Now, I think I understand. Someone had to be blamed and punished. I was the scapegoat.
It all started with Alice’s mum, Oy, doing a temporary legger. She often gets tired of being a single mum with a capricious baby girl who needs cuddling, coddling and nappy-changing as well as feeding and all those other cares and attentions we lavish on toddlers. I live within the sound of pattering feet on a very daily basis. Oy, the mum, is just out of her teens so pattering feet are sometimes not on her mind. Boys are. She wants to vamoosh on a regular basis (into the arms of handsome Thai guys or, at worst, on to the back-seats of friends’ motorbikes). This leaves Alice with grandma and me. Grandma takes over mum’s job (and so do I if given half the chance) but Alice sort of blamed me for mum’s absence (only my opinion) and so she singled me out for rejection, wails, bad looks, and a scratch. If a baby’s expression can show dislike for a person, Alice’s did. I’m an old foreigner here in Thailand and we’re talking 100% Thais in this house of ours, apart from me, because Alice’s father is a very young Thai guy who has no intention of seeing, let alone looking after, his daughter. This is Thailand (T.I.T.) and these things happen on a regular basis. Alice must sort of fathom that I’m the male, I’m not dad, I’m not Thai, and maybe she mistakenly thinks I’m responsible for driving mum away from the house. If I can be sent to the doghouse, does she think mum will return?
Of course, the matter could be more complicated, or even less complicated, than I’m making it out to be, but for now my hunch is that Alice explains her predicament in these terms. A baby always uses his or her brain and will try to explain and reach conclusions. To avoid painful understanding (and because it just isn’t possible for now), she protects herself by singling out the foreign presence. Much better to have a go at me than start to think mum doesn’t care 100%, dad doesn’t care at all, grandma tries her best but is defeated by her daughter’s indifference and headstrong approach. There are many other painful realisations waiting in the wings but for now this theatre drops its curtain on a fretful Alice punishing the perpetrator of virtually nothing.