Thai Village House

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The house of my childhood calls to me often in my dreams. The water jar at the bottom of the steps, like a good friend greets me, a silver dipper ready for any visitor. The verandah is where I sit to watch the sun depart the day, casting fairy-tale shadows over the rice fields. The room where I sleep has a soft net draped from the ceiling, a reed mat on the rustic wooden floor. At night the gas-light fills the room with stories. They keep me company all night long.

“Never make your home in a place. Make a home for yourself inside your own head. You’ll find what you need to furnish it – memory, friends you can trust, love of learning, and other such things. That way it will go with you wherever you journey.”

Tad Williams

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THE CLOUD MESSENGER

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“Clouds coming,” Sister Chandraki says as she rolls out the dough for another loti. Then she begins.

“Long, long ago there was a Yaksha who was exiled far from his home in the Himalayas and far from his lover. One day a cloud came by and warned him that the monsoons were coming and this was the time that his lover would be pining for him.”

As she speaks I look up for a cloud but since it is January there are no clouds in sight, just a deep, pure blue which embraces me.

Sister Chandraki continues:

“So the Yaksha asks the cloud to be his messenger and carry his words to his lost love. The cloud agrees and sets off across mountains, rivers, rice fields and lotus ponds. Finally after seeing many wonders the cloud arrives and announces with joy to the woman that the Yaksha still lives.”

It is years later at the Temple of the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok that I see my first Yaksha. I stand before a row of them, bedazzled by their wonderful colours and remember the story told to me that day at the village loti stall one hot dusty afternoon.

After this I want to know more about Yakshas so I do a little research and come across “The Cloud Messenger” or “Meghaduta” by Kalidasa considered to be one of the greatest Sanskrit poets.

I had no idea back then that the story I had heard had its origins in these 111 stanzas but I know for sure that after that tale I couldn’t see a cloud without picturing a Yaksha exiled from his beloved Himalayan home and friend.

When I moved to England some years later I often sent messages back to the village, my beloved home via the clouds!

I discovered recently that Yakshas may have originally been the tutelary gods of forests and villages, and were later viewed as the steward deities of the earth and the wealth buried beneath.

Today as I write this, the sky here is a riot of clouds, as if the Yakshas have gathered for the day. My wish for you is that this cloud message will reach you even thousands of kilometres away and bring some colour into your Sunday.

Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add colour to my sunset sky.”

Rabindranath Tagore

KINNARI

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There was a time in the village at dusk when the fireflies would weave in and out of the mango trees and the first beams of moonlight would wash over the rice fields when the lamps would be lit and the fires would be stoked. I can still smell the wood smoke mingled with the charcoal. That is when the stories would come out of hiding, like wild things coaxed from the shadows. That is when Grandpa Miang’s deep and wise voice would shape those wild things so we could see them, sense them. Continue reading