Ban Borpla – School Day
The school day at last. A lift from Noi’s friend in an air-conditioned car is a perfect antidote to what was a humid night. On arrival, I am greeted by the director and staff, and the children in Noi’s class are happy to see me, but the class next door is where I begin my first day. This class has more students, (around 16), double the number of Noi’s, and sometimes it is better to take the plunge into the deep end: sink or swim is the adage.
The day goes well. Having managed two classes, I feel better now that I have broken the ice. The evening passes well enough, fish, rice and a bottle of beer while watching a large orange sphere sink below the horizon.
Morning of the 2nd school day
Noi and Mit have a motor scooter for transporting them to school. I believed they intended to make two journeys, but no, it’s three’s up time, with Noi in the front well, Mit driving, and myself on the pillion. Now the time taken from the house to the school is a good fifty minutes, and I, or rather my knees, are uncomfortable being stuck in a constrained position due to the footrests. By the time we arrive, I have difficulty dismounting and think if this opportunity had presented itself when I was younger, I would never have complained!
Introduced to the director, (Mr Suti Chai) and a whole range of people; teachers, cooks, general handyman, and students all waiting eagerly to greet me. One teacher I meet (Pom) is preparing to leave, but stays behind to introduce me to her class and the children. Pom teaches grade 4, a class small enough that I can remember their names; Yok, a bubbly girl leaning towards the chubby side – Oof, (pronounced Of) a lively bright lad – Ploy, (pronounced Poy) a beautiful girl, one of the brightest students – Beea, (pronounced B) another pretty girl, but shy and lacking in confidence – Game, (pronounced as you say it), a large, affable lad, but prone to being teased from others – Oon, (pronounced On) small in stature, but a focused lad who is not lacking confidence, and finally, Pam, the smallest and cleverest student in the class. A great group whom I will grow very attached to in the coming weeks.
The day passes, and as we ride home I am more relaxed on the bike and take in my surroundings. With light and heat subsiding, for those farm labourers we pass, the days’ work is finished: strolling through the fields in single file they make their way home. We pass cows, similar to the Indian Zebu, (lacking the hump) munching casually among the grass growing along the verges of the road. Trees cast their elongated shadows onto the road surface, making it difficult to see the frequent potholes that exist on these rural roads. Inevitably you hit one, just a case of being prepared, otherwise, your ass will be sorer than is the normal case by the time you get home! The shades of green range from light (as on the banana tree), to a deeper green of the mango and palm (both date and coconut). Those of the forests on the distant mountains, verge on blackish due to the proximity and angle of the sun. Due to the time of the year, few trees are in bloom, but a pool of water blanketed by blossoming water lilies with orange/red flowers, provide a magic moment: a sea of green adorned with floating balls of fire.
next – Pom’s Story