Those of you who were at my wedding in Thailand may remember a guy who stayed right till the end, dancing and singing away to himself, smiling and laughing with everyone....small guy, dark skin, his name was Laai,(In Thai, when someone you regard as 'like a brother or sister' is younger than you, you pre-fix their name with the title 'Nong' hence, Nong Laai) he was from a country called Myanmar which we know as Burma, which has a border with Thailand about 10km away from my house at what is referred to as 'The Golden Triangle' as there is also a border with Laos PDR
There are many Burmese people in Thailand, they have no papers, no passports, their government is a harsh military regime that persecutes it's own people to such an extent that they cross the border into Thailand in search of a better life. They often work for what Thai people regard as a pittance, they are discriminated against and exploited because they have no recourse to the authorities, being illegal migrants.
Nong Laai was one of those people, but he had the good fortune to find himself in Ban Sob Kham, where my wife and family live. There, Nong Laai found people that took care of him and accepted him as one of their own.
He helped them grow and take care of their crops and was a worthy member of the community, well liked and respected. He lived with a Thai family there but had no wife or children. No-one knew if he had any other family.
I have to pass on the very sad news that Nong Laai passed away on the night of the 14th of this month. He went to sleep as usual, he wasn't drunk, or sick or anything. He never woke up. It is estimated that he was about twenty years old, although no-one, including Nong Laai himself, knew for sure.
With no passport or ID card, there will be no official record of his passing. The doctor was called and pronounced him dead. Neither foul play, drink nor disease were detected. The whole village gathered together to honour his life. There was food, drink, laughter and flowers. Everyone had something nice to say about him. They played cards, which he liked to do, and remembered him. The next day he was taken to the local temple and cremated.
So, if you were at the wedding, when you remember it as the wonderful and happy day that it most certainly was, please also spare a smile for the young man who loved to dance to Reggae and Tech House music, even though he probably didn't know what it was!
There was much discussion of how he died and the conclusion was reached that, as his arms were raised above his head, and a smile was on his face, he had dreamed himself somewhere so beautiful, that he never came back. From the way he was enjoying himself at the wedding, it must be quite some party that he's at now!