Authors: Kishore Modak
© Kishore Modak 2014
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Sunrise doesn’t last all morning and a
cloudburst doesn’t last all day
Seems my love is up and has left you with no warning
But it’s not always going to be this grey
All things must pass,
All things must pass away.
Joshi, never met him, don’t know how he looks, we just spoke for hours
and hours, days and nights, detailing the intricacies ahead.
seem a good man. Thank You.
The Memory of a Loss
Important things in life are the ones we
don’t have; like a limb to an amputee, enjoyed, then lost and yearned. All our
disappointments remain hidden, as we feign confidence through the motions that
work and family life demand. The feigning surfaces each day, sucking dry, till
there is nothing left to deplete while we act out our forced, measured lives.
Our losses, even seemingly commonplace
ones, they define us. Take unrequited teenage love; it lingers, eventually
leading us to internet photo albums, of families that could have been our own.
Or, take fading youth; it leaves us pensive, ruminating upon the empty
net-worth of amassed wealth and societal gains. All the while, joy, like a
clown, follows its own plot, choosing its own players, condescendingly passing
a few of us completely by.
If you are fortunate, a loss is something
you can live with, like a well-loved loud and vicious dog, who needs the simple
severing of chords before the life-energy of a beast is left dampened into a
The waste of a life in the squash room, the
drink parlours, and in the sex dens of Pattaya is something that I have barely
survived to pen this tale. This tale is of the daughter we lost in the night
markets of Pattaya.
are who are responsible for the loss, though
have spent years, blamed singularly by my own corrupt sub-conscious. Yes, she
is my daughter, wherever she is; but you too, the social milieu, embraced her,
committing acts that lost daughters experience.
My vacuum is from the loss of a daughter,
an empty space I have finally gathered courage to share with you.
If your life draws you to words which help
you smile and cry, maybe even cower behind the reading of books, then, you are
better off remaining away from the rest of these accounts, since they are
tallied dispassionate, spoken and told like they should be, as irreversible as
This is a sordid tale of loss, the loss of
a pre-teen girl, my daughter–Lost in Pattaya, while Fang Wei and I were on an
impromptu get-away from our home in Singapore.
We shall discuss Fang Wei in a bit; let me
first confess the part of me that did play a dominant role in the loss, a
penchant to get high, or shall we say
in parts of the
world where such trips are not punishable by death or amputation, or, in
regions where they are still escapable in bribes. Drugs and drinks have been my
constant companions, except for the years in Singapore, where I remained dry on
alcohol alone, probably the worst of all chemicals that has ever stimulated me.
Alcohol, especially in hard drunk nights, begs addiction, like the morning
chase of cocaine before you get to work, beating that hangover from the 7 A.M.
alco-orgy on the previous evening. Cannabis is the best. At least there is an
element of a-sexual appreciation of beauty, like the visitation of the Buddhist
temple, on Miho’s insistence, when she found me crying, having decapitated my
first and only victim.
Let us work with the most important event
in these pages, the loss of my daughter. It was my idea, to get to Pattaya,
where I knew I could score and get high on good stuff, a nose for which I had
Why Pattaya? Simply because of the poster
and the lure that it holds for those who seek things that other posters don’t
offer, like fat white men holding hands with soft Asian women and the
background of stimulants that fat white men are drawn to.
Fang Wei and I were married for ten years
before we split up. She is Singaporean, which meant that I was marrying up,
since I am ethnic Indian. I loved her, ‘past’ being the critical tense in the
present, and I enjoyed her company through the married years, all up to the
point where the loss of Li Ya redefined our relationship. I met her at work,
growing fond of her with each passing Friday that we spent in the bars and the
pubs of Singapore, drinking before going home, waking up in the other’s bed.
I became indoctrinated easily, accepting
the island that I came to live in, Singapore. Her marriage to me was far more
calculative, the math that her mind worked, covered all eventualities that a
married couple may encounter; profits from a bond or the pay-out from a split,
before she was convinced that I was a
, despite my
ethnicity. This to her parents meant she was marrying down. Parents, aging
gracefully with the health they had invested in, parents; worth bending and
bowing to, parents; who had the welfare of a daughter to wish unselfishly for.
In the end, she failed, since her stunted
math could never envision the wealth that a man can accumulate.
The venom that I built inside me is from
the lack of support that a man expects from his wife, even if it was me who was
responsible for the loss our daughter, little Li Ya.
. I will leave you to judge if I was responsible for my loss.
It was Fang Wei who insisted on a Chinese
name for our kid.
Li Ya, she always thought herself as Leah,
yearning the whiteness that comes through the internet with staid clap-tracked
recordings from the west. I suspect white is what she always wanted to be, or
become, just like her mother, who was already white, at least in skin tone,
chasing what she already had. Neither of my girl’s names, given or assumed,
holds any indication to my half in her, her Indian half. Li Ya looked mixed, a
bit dark with a tint of the tropics yet slanted at the eyes like from any
oriental strain. Thai is what she may have become and got accepted as, because
strangely that is exactly how she looked, Thai.
I write, while confined to a hospital bed,
still free from prosecution and jail since the stream of my funds continues to
befuddle the police and the judiciary in Thailand, postponing the handing of a
gruesome and deserved death. I pour it all into these keystrokes, knowing well
that when they find this manuscript, well before you do, they will ignore the
bribes and assume the duties that their uniforms must compel them to.
Li Ya was standing right next to me in
Pattaya before she went missing. While next to me, she was satisfied with the
ice-cream that I had gotten her, while I chatted with the smiling peddler who
wanted to ascertain what would make me part with money. Fang Wei, she was only
about ten meters away, kneeling at the cardboard-layered sarong shack spread on
the foot path of the night market. She held a few sarongs up. From that
distance they seemed like gaudy drapes swaying in the breeze revealing her
choice of forest-floral patterns, while what I was thinking about was acid
batik, and the formless burst of colour the pot I wanted to score may leave me
in. The whiskey did not help, since it was evening and I had been drinking all
day. Neither did the vodka, little bottles of which along with beers don’t
count. The debris of my drinking lay wasted in my man-bag.
“Do you have some that I can taste?” I
looked at the peddler, wanting to whiff the drug, more for the assurance of an
immediate high, than the need to sample what I knew I would buy. Scoring, it is
a bit like a quest for water by a man parched of a thirst, a thirst for
pleasure derived from every and each act that can be enjoyed after getting
high. My mind was mostly on Fang Wei and the possibility of coaxing her into
acts we committed seldom, and many seasons ago.
Fang Wei was filthy cute, and she knew it.
A promise of irresistible pleasure for any man, at least when she was younger,
without the faint wrinkles and the ever-so-slight sag of skin that stole the
lingering looks she once received from passers-by, mostly men. In vain she
tried, resisting the revenge of time, investing in useless enhancement
treatments, alongside suitable clothes that masked physical decay. A steady
supply of creams and rubs eventually flowed into the sink-hole, applied then
rinsed off each day. From cluttered cabinets, tubes and jars wound up clumsily
into the waste bin each time she had a disagreement with the cosmetics. That
bitterness towards the course of nature, it too became a weapon which she
pointed at me, her husband, a convenient and available target.
I never blamed her for that.
“Come aside sir, we taste, come here,” the
peddler ushered me beachwards. I dragged Li Ya behind me, impatient and rough
from the alcohol that I had had all day. Li Ya was focussed on the ice-cream
and its deposition in her mouth, her age preventing her from managing the heap
of cream sagging precariously on the cone. She needed the aid of a father, or a
mother; a parent who had not had the better part of an entire bottle of booze.
Inevitably, the ice-cream fell into the sand and she looked up, a bit
disappointed at her own clumsiness, making well, the liquid of eyes that
ensured that her drunken parent bought her another cream-topped cone. I came up
with coins, pointing at Fang Wei across the street from where me and the
peddler stood “Li Ya, go to your mum, here, take this money and cross at the
green man,” I handed her the change, ignoring the peddler and focussing on my
daughter as she skipped across the street, heading straight for her mom. I
waved just as she reached Fang Wei and she waved back, little Li Ya, for the
last time that evening. Fang Wei looked up, closing the purchase of floral
sarongs, depositing them in the red translucent bag by her side. She held the
bag in one hand as the other reached for Li Ya.
At least it seemed so.
I turned to the peddler, who had lit up,
passing the joint for me to drag. I kept and nursed the lit joint, spreading
saliva on its paper walls, scoring just enough for the one more day we were to
spend in Pattaya. He took the cash and disappeared into the black ink of the
beach, caused by the contrast of street lights against the infinite darkness of
the sea. The moon was out but hidden behind clouds, which drifted in an even
motion across its far away white surface. I looked up, feeling the need to
calibrate downwards the amount of alcohol in me, now that cannabis entered the
dim lit picture of moonlight. It made me lie back on the sand, and look up at
the faint sprinkle of stars in the sky, large blobs of clouds moving fast and
wondrously over the moon and across my brain.
I broke into sweat, at the question Fang
Wei posed innocuously, as she came up from behind and sat down beside me on the
beach. “Where is Li Ya?”
“I sent her to you, I thought she was with
you,” my eyes widened as I sat up jerkily, pointing at the Sarong shack across
the street. The colour drained away from our faces.
“You stay put here,” I shouted to Fang Wei
rushing across the street shouting “Li Ya, Li Ya…” My run made the traffic
screech, and, at the ice-cream parlours I tore into the stalls, discovering
nothing but the vacancy of synthetic essence that hung in the air. When I
emerged, I hoped Li Ya was there, on the beach with Fang Wei, a child being
reprimanded by her mother for causing anxiety. Fang Wei was there, alone on the
beach, speaking frantically into her phone, reporting crime as a few people gathered
around her. A tourist-police officer approached. I ran across, as he met her.
By the time I arrived, she had already related the gist of our loss to him,
leaving me sliding on my phone, searching for Li Ya’s snaps.
The peddler appeared from the dark of the
beach, like a flash from a lighthouse.
“Officer, ask him, he saw it, he saw her, I
sent her across the street to buy an ice cream,” I spoke like in the middle of
a scream and a lament. The crowd began to scatter as he began to speak.
“Are you high?” the officer asked me. This
silenced me. I almost begged the peddler to go away, for him not to reveal our
illicit trade that evening.
“Here, I am a Singaporean and she is my
daughter,” Fang Wei rescued me, leaving the officer to hold a plastic card that
he may have seen, a Singapore citizen ID.
Pictures of Li Ya were transferred into the
police records of Pattaya, as we all struggled and tapped on phone screens.
Time, every second exponentially proportional to me not finding my daughter,
because, with each second she was being sucked deeper into the labyrinth of her
unfortunate destiny. I left them to the phones and went into the streets
screaming for Li Ya.
The family whistle too, a sort of short
hoot and chirp; I used it till the muscles in my face, unused to prolonged
whistling cramped up, for the last time that evening.
The crowds stood arrested by a man weeping
as he held his daughter’s crying image up on his phone, “I have lost my girl,
have you seen a child, help me, help”.
They parted, realizing that I was drunk and
desperate. Some clasped their hands and bowed, throwing coins into the sea
wind, and towards me in prayer.
The people in Pattaya that evening, they
moved away from me, sensing what they did not want to encounter, unsavoury
holidays in a land that draws us with its allure of pleasure. In about five
minutes, I changed my stance, becoming un-drunk, walking up instead to people
and showing them images of Li Ya on my phone, asking if they had seen her. My
night without sleep was visible in the my bloodshot eyes, as was the futility
that the hours past had been spent in, roaming hoarse in search of Li Ya, till
shouts faded into the oblivion that listeners may have assumed the drunks of
the night in. I became singular, looking for her, knowing well within minutes
that I had lost her, and in an untenable recess of my mind, I knew it was best
that I searched alone, without anyone else being given the opportunity of
discovering me, and the drugged state I was in. My high made the passage of
time immeasurable; because, by the time I reached the beach where I had left
Fang Wei, it was deserted. There was only the sun coming through, drowning the
last lights of the city night, and the peddler, SriJaya, who lay asleep on the
sand, only a water bottle stuck upright in the sand next to him.