Stars and Sparkles Burn Out
Reality Wins the War
I immediately forget about my increasing thirst and discomfort as the scorching midday sun beats viciously down on me. My focus diverts to a familiar little girl walking alone, barefoot and disheveled, along Loi Kroh Road in Chiang Mai, Thailand. As we pass, I hear faint melodious sounds escape her plump, pouting, and parched lips.
Shocked and speechless, I grasp onto memories of better days when she and her friends frolic nightly on one of the vacant Anusarn Market stages - she is the bright and shining star. Now her cheerful innocence, overwhelming magnetic sparkle, and numerous playmates are gone.
Chaos and countless unknowns successfully shove their way into my world. Gauging the passage of time is impossible. Confusion reigns, and I openly weep for a nameless waif.
I look to see if, as before, her mother and older brother are working nearby. As I approach Chang Khlan Road, I observe the two sitting on several bunched-up and stained blankets. There is no merchandise, only an empty brass Tibetan singing bowl resting between them. Pointing, I ask: Tao Rai? (How much?) They refuse to glance up at me. I reluctantly move on towards the 711 around the corner.
I grab a shopping basket and explain the situation to the cashier. She sends an employee to assist me in selecting items that are hopefully pleasing to their palate and lifestyle - not mine.
For an extra two baht ($.65), I purchase a large plastic bag to carry the goods back. While I am away, the three relocate to a shaded area to snuggle and doze. Accessible but well protected by the brother's hands, the bowl remains empty. Heartbroken, I wrap some baht inside a sealed envelope and write on the outside in Thai: Jan care Ter na. (I care)
Slipping the note into the bag, I am careful not to disturb their sleep as I place everything safely behind the trio and leave.
Even though her unique sparkle briefly burns out, I know she will find her way to a new stage and once again be a twinkling star. Her dreams will come true, and I will remember her rare magic.
The streets are eerily quiet. I walk home slowly - the harsh reality piercing through me. This family is fighting a tough battle. Sadly, many have already lost the war.