‘Thais’ of Friendship
It had been a long time since I had seen that battered little book. Created from loose leaf paper and bound by staples, the book pokes out from among the mountain of papers. The title is scrawled across the blue construction paper cover in purple ink: “???????.” I’m not sure what that says anymore, but I do know that it’s Thai.Abandoning my mother to her spring cleaning, I rescued the packet from the ever-growing pile of trash and disappeared to flip through its tattered pages.
The first page contains the alphabet. The dainty looping scripts of the forty-four Thai letters are roughly copied numerous times by my own, much less aesthetic, handwriting. Numbers follow letters, and phrases occupy the third page.I chuckle to myself, remembering the time in the fifth grade when I had begged my best friend to teach me her native tongue. She had shown up the next day with this homemade Thai primer. Under her tutelage, I diligently practiced every character and memorized each pronunciation. When I had learned them to her satisfaction, we practiced speaking simple phrases to each other over games of badminton in the park.
The syllables rolled off her tongue like musical notes, the high and low tones creating a melody. The notes stumbled off of mine like a piano badly in need of tuning. Of course, that didn’t matter; we were having fun and I was helping my best friend remember who she was.By and by, the little blue book was set aside and forgotten. I can’t remember now how to write ‘hello’ in that lovely intricate script, or whether the up intonation of a particular word means ‘rice’ or ‘newspaper.’ She can’t remember either. Thai has been lost to her over the years, as have many other things.
Laughing together over that homemade book made me realize how much had really changed over the years; however, one thing remains steadfast, and that is our friendship.It’s this person, this friendship, that has had the most influence on me. From my first encounter with the shy adopted Thai girl in my third grade class to the email I sent her just five minutes ago, she has consistently been the friend I can rely on no matter what. Her hardships and the perpetual smile and ever-enduring optimism with which she faces them are inspiring, and she is always nearby to offer words of support and encouragement. We are practically polar opposites, but we balance each other perfectly. She has taught me so much, and I still have much to learn.Although I can no longer read that little blue book of ours, I keep it here on my bookshelf nestled in amongst my favorite books.
It sits in wait for me to reopen its pages and remember what I’ve forgotten and what’s important. On page five there’s a proverb, ??????????????? ??????????????: friends for a meal are easy to find, friends for life are hard to find.