Ui is a regular fixture on Soi 4 and can be found most nights waiting on the sidewalk around the entrance to the now-closed Nana Liquid Disco. I imagine I’d passed by her dozens of times before curiosity finally got the better of me last year and I took her back to my apartment. She was at that time working in a factory and supplementing her pay by going with the occasional customer at night. Since then she’s quit her day job to be a full-time lady of the evening.
I imagine that around a decade ago Ui would be considered reasonably attractive with her long black hair and dark complexion. But at thirty-eight, age is beginning to take its toll. One time she came to my place on a pre-arranged date without any makeup and I was surprised at how worn out she looked. But I still appreciate her figure. She is taller than most Thais and doesn’t have the usual beanpole legs and float-a-supertanker pair of breasts that frankly turn me off. (I prefer a more balanced arrangement.)
From what I can understand, Ui was once a wild woman, using heroin and mixing with the bad crowd that the drug trade attracts. Then she was in a serious motorbike accident which landed her in the hospital, unconscious, for most of a month. With neither of us speaking the other’s language beyond three or four word sentences, I haven’t been able to piece together what happened after that. I do suspect the accident impaired her facilities — in even short conversations, she’ll sometimes repeat herself. Reminds me of my father when he started coming down with dementia.
Despite this background, Ui is the kindest and least-demanding of all my Thai lady friends. Simple and completely without guile. One time when I was ill, she stopped by to see how I was doing — an act unimaginable to the many grubby and greedy women who inhabit the bars and sidewalks on Soi 4. Nor has she ever pestered me for money, despite a mother whose care she is solely responsible for. For these reasons, she survived the Stalinist purges of my harem last month. In fact, I continue to provide modest amounts of cash on occasion, entirely on my own initiative.
Though I always keep an eye out whenever I’m strolling by her hangout, it is Ui who usually spies me first, stepping out from the shadows with her arms extended wide, looking like a lost child who has finally located a friend. I get a brief hug followed by a near-pleading “Go home with you? No mon-ey.” This not a manipulative confession; it means she’s willing to take care of me free of charge, partly because of my prior generosities but also because she’s quite fond of me.
Our dates have their own distinctive style. Early on I discovered that she, unsurprisingly, is not into “the act”, so we’ve learned to enjoy each other by indulging in vices and special desires (Current Perversion: slow dancing). On the occasions she stays over, we sleep like brother and sister. Yet I do not feel deprived; it’s refreshing knowing someone whose motives never need to be second-guessed.
I try to avoid worrying about the women here that I’ve befriended, many of whom are struggling to support themselves, a child, and sometimes an ailing parent. I cannot magically turn their lives around — a bitter lesson I’ve had to learn. Ui’s future appears especially grim. Because of her memory problems, it’s hard to envision her working at anything more than menial jobs once her looks have faded away. And the hope of some Western suitor finding interest in her is almost cruel to contemplate. I can only do what I can, brightening up her life every few weeks with a fun evening and surprising her with unexpected gifts of money.