Thailand Tsunami Story revisited (3)

17 Feb

From being with these amazing people since the first day, I knew that they were special, and as time goes by, the more I felt that they were a strong united unit and focus on the only one goal, to find the body of their loved one.

4 Jan 2005, I turned up at the guesthouse as usual, after greeted the reception who was a guesthouse’s owner’s son, I asked if they’d left. The answer was he  hadn’t seen them for the past two days, but he heard that they might’ve  found the body of this woman, who was a daughter and a wife.  I called my boss telling him that we might get a story. After a while, a group of four returned to the guesthouse. The Japanese Father Mr. T. was the one who carried a white box into the guest house which was brought into the Guest House’s owner’s praying room. I learnt later that they’ve found the body the night before in Krabi, a province next to Phuket about an hour and a half drive away. They then hurried out that night, identified her body and cremated her there.

After they took a little rest, the Australian media was interviewing the Australian guy, D. and his sister, so I started talking to Mr. T while listening to the interview. I really felt that they put themselves together very well, D’s sister was the one who were more calm so she did the most of the interview. As for Mr. T,  our conversation started normally.  He told me that he was the one who identified his daughter to the doctor, and was the one who arranged his daughter’s cremation. He also told me his schedule to go back to Japan. I knew he was sad and started to lost it because he was asking D to bring him the A4 sized framed photo of his daughter so that he would bring it into the prayer room but he was just holding onto it. Then he started saying things that didn’t really make sense to me. As soon as the Guest House’s owner walked in, he suddenly jumped up to her and said ” Mamasan, I’ve found my baby”  and when they hugged, he started crying.

My tears started to well up too, for one second, I hated myself when I had this thought about only if I have the camera and microphone with me RIGHT NOW.. I could’ve capture the most dramatic scene then and there.

When I realized what I was thinking, I couldn’t believe it. What was I thinking? They were grieving, but I wanted to film them? I was very mad with myself.

After talking to the Guest House’s owner, Mr. T came back to sit down next to me, so I talked to him a bit more asking him how close he was with his daughter, he said very close.  Then it was silence.. and he started talking to his daughter in the photo, saying to her that she was cruel to go before she was supposed to and he was crying hard.  That was when I decided to get back to the hotel which was in Patong.

I cried all the way from guesthouse to the hotel for the next 30 minutes, the local red cab driver who was with me for the past few days probably understood, he let me sit at the back  and he just drove quietly. When I arrived at the hotel, everyone saw me crying including people from other News Channels. My boss told me to go back to the room and take some rest, but I needed to finish my work, after I brief him about what was happening back at the guesthouse, I told him I needed a break which he totally understood.

During dinner that night, I talked to many of the journalists including the Australian journalist who became my friend. It made me realized that we are still human. I used to think prior to that day that we are one of the worst kind of people, but we needed to carry on our duty.  That was our job to spread out the words producing the news to the audiences. The fact that we often shove the microphones in front of the subject or trying to pull out the emotions of the relatives of the victims,that was for work. When it’s done it’s done, it doesn’t matter if we don’t want to do it, it’s simply a duty we must comply.

 Two days later, I got send home just to continue working alone back in Bangkok. The teams in Phuket started to move around to Aceh, Phi Phi and other  places.  I was supposed to get on the US Marine’s ship to Aceh as well, but the plan was changed suddenly.  As soon as I got back to Bangkok, I got sick, it was probably from the stress. I almost checked myself into the hospital, but I got through.  While I was in Bangkok, I’ve thought back about many things that had happened in the past two weeks. Especiallyabout D and his family,and somehow was glad about the breakdown. If I hadn’t I would’ve questioned myself  about the lack of being emotional.

One week later, I went back to Phuket with a lot more strength.  Everytime I went back or meet up with D I always brought back more of his strength. 

I interviewed him for the last time a few years ago,  I asked him about what he did to make him feel better when he was at the lowest.. 

His words were ” Strength and courage, that’s what I say to myself”  and he elaborated that he would allow himself to feel low but then he needed to pick himself up. He also try to make everyone around him happy, because if they are happy then he’ll get that happiness back in return.  

After the interview finished, I told him that I really admire his strength.  When people tell the truth, they would look you in the eyes right?   He looked me in the eyes, and I knew then that he knew.

D did not come back for the 2nd anniversary of 2004 Tsunami but I talked to him through MSN. He showed me his new work,  D’s sister was writing a novel as well as working on the documentaries.  As for the T’s family..Mr. and Mrs. T.. they were in Thailand and  doing well.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – –

UPDATE ON :  The latest news I’ve heard.. D had moved back to Japan and got engaged to be married.


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