Wednesday, January 28, 2009

broken spirit houses

A quiet moment, as a women kneeled before a tree, one hand held open palmed in front of her nose to center herself, in a one handed prayer. With her other hand, she poured water from a bottle, onto the roots of the tree. The carboot salespeople chatted amongst themselves, not many customers today and later, they would all gather together to push start one of their mobile stores, it finally spluttering to a start, in a cloud of thick black smoke, "Kup Kun Kaaaaaaa", as she sped away. It dawned on me that there is only a week and a half left and I got those pangs of not having done enough here, even though we are looking forward to returning home, this has been a realy important journey for us. 

This morning, on our usual shortcut through the police station, we saw a cop with his eyes closed and his head resting in his hands, while an M16 sat in front of him on the table. It reminded me of something a friend had said, about the banality of adventurous work in exotic places, it all turns to routine in the end. So too does the deadly weapon lose its power in the face of ubiquity, the job its importance to the human who only wants to sleep. Even though the examples of its tyranny populate the streets of Mae Sot, the beggar on crutches, pleading for food or money, with the burn marks crawling down his arm to your shiney pitifull coins. Oneday our friend was walking passed the police station and some cops pointed their guns at her for a laugh, hohoho the banality of power is the most dangerous of all. 

There have been a few articles about Burma in the paper, mainly about the Rohingya boat people, how the Thai General said "the accusations of mistreatment are so baseless there's no need for an investigation". Did you know the U.N requested to speak to the 130 odd boat people who had just been detained by the Thai Navy? This was after the others they'd sent back to sea with no motors, food or water had washed up in other countries with their stories of abuse, less about 700. The goverenment could not get any information from it's millitary - because of course the millitary backed the governments appointment - when the U.N finally received an answer, it was this, "They've gone." Towed out to sea and left to die like the others perhaps? But yesterday I read the kind of article you want to read. It was not about any breaking story, no sensationalist expose. It was a new years article about the lumbering giant of a story that is Burma, nothing new to report, "So far, so bad", was the quote, an article printed so that no one would forget about Burma. And I looked at NewZealand news sites and saw the top stories were, Man dead after being caught in machine, Cricket players may not be fit to play, Australian model receives apology over sex slur, and on and on and on. As I walked home passed the detention centre today, and saw the families sitting along the outside of the cage, talking to those inside, accepting the normality of their situation, any veneer of romanticism fell away and all I could think was, "It's shit here." It is, but everyone smiles through it, it's just the banal workings of everyday life. A spirit house is a letterbox sized house, which sits on a post outside a Thai house, the idea being that the spirits would rather live in the elaborate miniature than haunt the persons home. On a piece of vacant land opposite the detention center, where a goatherd takes his goats everyday, there are a bunch of broken spirit houses lying amongst the rubbish and leaves and dirt, I think of the visitors of the inmates, who come here to leave offerings and prayers to these replica ruins, as tending to the broken spirits of the detention center.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

broken spirit houses. thats really eloquent.