Green Santa

Dec 22, 2010

I took Rasamee out for a special pre-Christmas lunch at a Japanese restaurant I particularly like (Fuji). While enjoying our meals, I informed her I’d be willing to pay all of her debts except for what she owes on her family’s two motorbikes — vehicles I’m not especially enamored with. It comes out to just under sixty thousand baht (about $2,000). Upon hearing that figure, I promptly pulled out my coin purse and began ponderously counting out one baht coins. We both got a good laugh out of that.

My offer was made not a day too soon. Yesterday Rasamee had gotten a call from her daughter, who is feeling the strain of holding down a part time job while studying at college. It was hard to tell how serious a problem this is — when Rasamee told me about the call, she did it with a smile, which is the way Thais often convey bad news. Probably the girl simply misses her mother; in Rasamee’s absence she’s having to handle the household chores in addition to her studies and work. Very stressful. Since my support includes funds earmarked to pay her tuition for next year, perhaps that will help ease the burden.

The rest of my money is intended to clean up loans Rasamee has taken out from her sister and two friends and is paying interest on each month. (Borrowing money seems to be a common feature of relationships here.) I’m of course not so naive as to think I’m changing her life, just helping her through an especially difficult time. A couple years down the road she may well be in the same situation, though with her son and daughter both hopefully through college.

Because there’s a thirty thousand baht limit on ATM transfers, I sent the money over to Rasamee’s bank in two transactions. For the first one, I let her push the buttons to initiate it. The second I did by myself after we’d finished up our shopping. Throughout all this, Rasamee was clearly very grateful, but there were no sudden tearful hugs or heartfelt declarations of love. That is not really her style, plus we were in public. However, I did get the impression she feels the two of us are now closer — when we got back to our neck of the woods, she asked to take a nap in my apartment for a couple of hours. Since this did not put a crimp in my plans — what plans? — I said no problem. But I was not enthusiastic about the idea. It would be difficult — and perhaps a bit mean — to try and explain I’m helping her more out of admiration than affection.

Whatever my motivations, this felt like the proper thing to do, and the right time of the year to do it in. 🎄 Ho! Ho! Ho! 🎄

From a wooden plaque that used to hang in my grandmother’s kitchen:
“I shall pass through this world but once.
If, therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or good I can do,
let me do it now.
Let me not defer or neglect it.
For I shall not pass this way again.”

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