Pattaya Daily News

31 January 2008 :: 22:01:39 pm 6962

Two Thai Woman: A Drama, Act 4

The first woman to appear on the scene is Salee Boonpan, known to the neighbourhood as a mianoi, a minor wife or a kept woman. Some of her neighbours preferred to refer to her as a rented wife. Rent had been applied to women of Salee‘s profession since many American military men stationed in Thailand during the Vietnam War had rented Thai women as temporary wives. When her keeper was not paying her a visit, Salee passed the time alone in her small wooden house at the end of the lane. The house was rented.
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The fact that she lived in a rented house put her in a certain status. It indicated that she had not managed to own a house out of the arrangement. Furthermore, the fact that her man came to see her in a taxi meant he was neither wealthy nor influential, and certainly not a high-ranking official who inspired dread. Besides, the observation that he visited her very seldom pointed out that the woman was not ms favourite. Moreover, she might be losing his favour and would soon be discarded.    These facts were useful to the shopkeepers in the lane, whose calculating minds had to account for some profit whenever possible while safeguarding any loss through non-performance credits. At the same time the neighbours would keep their keen eyes open for what the woman might make a ‘back of the house’ sale. The landlord too would make sure that she paid her rent. It was only fair that these good people took such measures. To them, if the girls next door work in bars, it would be wise to find out what kind of bars, whether they were in dock areas or in certain streets frequented by foreign residents and tourists, whether they were ‘high class’ or not. 

In the case of Salee, the good neighbours had not seen any new furniture brought in, nor heard stereo sounds, nor seen her wear any jewellery. There seemed very little that the mianoi would sell in a hurry. The only thing she had ever sold were a television, a transistor radio and a bottle of imported whisky. These days the woman hardly left her house. Many believed that her keeper had already deserted her. “But that rented woman is still beautiful,” deplored a shopkeeper to his wife in private while counting the cash after the shop had closed late in the evening.  

The second woman was Nipa Pitayapunsith. Her letter preceded her arrival. It read:
 
My dearest Salee,

I miss you so very much. It has been a long time since we parted. I am now living and working in Pattaya. I am worried about you, wanting to see with my own eyes how you’re doing. Is he still good to you? Looking forward to seeing you, my dearest. With much love,
 
Ni. 

The afternoon, like most time, had been boring. There was hardly anything to connect her with the outside world. The house swelled in the heat. The room became an oven. Her empty house unfolded. There was nothing much to do except to eat, sleep, wake up and wait.   

Salee went to the dressing table. It seemed reassuring contemplate her own features in the mirror, combing her long blown hair. She was still very pretty, yet it was her beauty that had been cause of her downfall. It began when a well dressed; seemingly woman visited her village. The city woman came to look for young girls to work for her as maids in her Bangkok home. Susceptible to promises and the lure of city life and earning income, Sally’s mother allowed her daughter to go with the woman.  

While Salee contemplate her past, she longed for something piquant or sour. To make herself presentable to the outside world, she powdered her face and applied lipstick. To go out of this silent sweltering house to buy a pickled mango, pineapple and guava, gave her a sense of purpose. She would also buy a copy of the most popular newspaper to read all about gruesome murders, horrible accidents, movie stars and parties in social columns in which she might recognize some of her former clients. Should there be another coup d’etat, shop radios would be emitting revolutionary songs, decrees, warnings, and exciting patriotic vows. Anticipating what the world outside might have in store for her, Salee eagerly donned her plastic flip-flops. But then the arrival of Nipa deprived her of any possible excitement. 

 

The plump, aging procurer had not changed much, a little more rotund and uglier perhaps. To put across to her former collaborator the sheer joy of their reunion, Nipa effortlessly flustered, exclaiming: “Salee! Dearest! I’m so glad to find you looking so well,” she shammed. There were tears as well. “Why, Ni, what do you expect of me? Shouldn’t I look well?” Salee asked, glad that she had put on some make-up before Nipa’s arrival. Meanwhile Nipa’s eyes darted to estimate in a flash her colleague’s material wealth. She wasted only a few seconds. “Haven’t you got a ring?” Nipa sounded amazed, scowling in disbelief.  The younger and more winsome woman did not quite understand. “A ring! Ring on your finger!” Nipa scolded abrasively. She rounded her lips and sucked her teeth with displeasure.
“I don’t like wearing rings,” Salee attempted to explain.  

Nipa put aside her handbag, hissed and then bared her teeth. “It does not matter whether you like wearing them or not. You should have got one out of him. What a stupid girl you are. You allow this gritty grotty man to keep you this long and you don’t even get a ring out of him! Get anything! A ring, for instance, and it should be diamond too.”“Why diamond?”
“You’re silly. You’re even more stupid than I thought,” Nipa snapped. It seemed useless to educate this thick peasant girl. Nipa moved about the room, inspecting the furniture. Her hand glided from one object to another while her brain calculated values. Salee followed Nipa’s movement; in her eyes, she saw not only Nipa but also a horde of brothel owners, pimps, murderers, thieves, drug traffickers, and uniformed men who had lived off her flesh. She al remembered hands and feet raised to strike her at any sign unwillingness. How she used to scheme for a way to escape, to return to her village. But after a year they removed her from the fro line, replacing her with teenage girls, freshly procured from the country. Thereafter Salee had been permitted to walk the streets with Nipa. Later Nipa, who had always been enterprising, branched on her own and paid for Salee’s freedom. “Let me take care of you, Salee, for you’re still young and beautiful. Think of me as your aunt. We have only to look after each other now.” Nipa sounded genuinely concerned. But for the price of freedom, Nipa aimed to own the bought woman for life. Salee had not been completely worn out; a period grace would bring her back to life. With Nipa’s persistency, shamelessness, guile, low cunning and experience, she could build up her own brothel. Salee would be her very first girl. Now Salee recalled another point of her life. The two of them had spent hours in one of the beauty parlours in preparation for New Year’s Eve. As they stalked their prey, Nipa caught sight of urbane, middle-aged man and went at him: “We are looking for good restaurant,” she cooed. “Would you be so kind as to recommend one to us?”The fish was nibbling at the eye-catching bait. He himself h intended to dine locally, and since they were similarly incline wouldn’t the charming ladies be his guests? Once seated in the eating-house of his choice, the women felt certain the evening would successful.

“My niece is from Esarn,” Nipa minced her words, each which was expertly coated with honey. Also, she bent slightly towards the man to arouse intimacy and confidence. 

Salee took the hint and thus acted a role of a naive Lao girl who was shy and meek. When she spoke, her Lao tongue sounded authentic. However, the client had proven to be a tough customer. It took the dexterous woman almost two weeks to clinch the deal. Since wanted to have a mianoi, Nipa had to change her mind about setting up her own house. If he wanted a mianoi, he should have one, but Nipa waned to make a good profit out of it. Nipa had helped her friend set up a house in a quiet lane on the city outskirts. Having also made extra money from telling lies to her customer about the costs of furniture, kitchen items and the monthly rent, Nipa decided to embark on a new venture. She left the Heavenly City of Angels for the beach resort of Pattaya, a modem Sodom where she had been living during the past years.  

“This is not much of a home now, is it? Nipa was saying; her voice broke into Salee’s bucolic mind.
“ I’m quite happy as it is. ” I bet he doesn’t come often now. He might have another girl somewhere, Nipa sneered. 

 “He’s been very busy lately and on top of it his wife is ill”. Salee lowered her voice to suit a sad state of the affair.   

 Indignantly placing her hands on her hips, Nipa uttered: Do you believe him? Her throat contracted and her harsh voice broke.   

 “Of course, I do. I’m one of his wives too. Why should he lie to me?   


  

Nipa had to scream: “What ! You talk of love and loyalty? I’d rather see a diamond ring, a car, an air-conditioner, a refrigerator, an electric fan and a television set. Now where is your television? Where is the radio? Have you sold them?  

Salee played mute. Nipa sneered knowingly: These are all the things I bought for you before I left. Perhaps your love and loyalty have got the better of you and you’ve told him the real rent so that he’d give you less monthly allowances. My dearest, you’re still too young to get stuck with this mean bastard in an empty house.  

“But why did you set me up with him? The naive little woman had to inquire.

“Don’t blame me, my girl!”
Nipa flared up.     


  

She had to change her tune when she remembered why she had come. Reaching out for the younger woman, she cooed: Listen. I’ve a plan. If I didn’t love you like my own niece, I’d never have helped you. Next time this miser of yours comes, tell him you had a letter from home that your mother is very ill and you have to go home to look after her.

“But my mother cannot read and write and I cannot go home now,” Salee stated some shameful facts. “I’ll write the letter myself in case he wants to see it. A miser does have a petty misery mind. Then you can come to me, Nipa smiled the famous Thai smile. Then she prattled on: “Now tell me, are you going to ask him for anything?”

For the life of her, Salee did not know what to say.  

” A big amount of money for the poor ailing mother, for the fare and.. .” Nipa prompted.
“Of course,” agreed Salee.
“And a ring,” Nipa added breathlessly.
“Why the ring?” Salee seemed innocent enough.Nipa screamed: “I told you before, it’s a capital gain! Get it out of him. Use the opportunity! Tell him you need it to prove to your folk that you’re respectably and legally married. When you go home for the first time, you need a proof to gain face, not losing face. What a dum-dum you are. The wedding ring will be the proof. Stupid!”  

Salee had to admire Nipa for being far-sighted. The two women grinned at each other. Then Nipa decidedly disclosed her Pearl Harbour Attack Plan. “My poor girl,” Nipa sighed, stroking Salee’s shoulder. “If I could be with you all the time and take care of you, no man could take advantage of you,” she ended the disclosure of a catalytic scheme.  

Lying on the wooden floor of her house, Salee smiled at the thought of Nipa, of the past. The smile, though sardonic, brightened her face. At the same time, she tossed ideas backward and forward regarding the roles she would play when meeting Nipa. 

Reporter : Methawee   Photo : Internet   Category : Stories

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