I am writing this post to honour “my Father,” and to always remember the hardest & saddest days of my life. This blog is my corner of this whole internet that I can write freely, and today I also want to tell you a little bit about him.
To all of you, I understand that it might be impossible to comprehend the relationship between Thai people and the king. Here is a message from one of us, Mr. Somtow Sucharitkul, that might give you a glimpse of reason.
As a Thai who has lived most of his life abroad, I’m often called upon to explain to foreigners what appears inexplicable and anomalous — the special relationship between the Thai people and King Bhumibol Adulyadej. In the rest of the world, there seem to be two kinds of monarchs: those with absolute power, and those whose function is ceremonial and symbolic. Our king fell into neither of those categories because on the one hand, he did not wield political power, yet on the other, he possessed a moral authority more powerful than that of any government this country ever had; he was literally the fabric that held this country together, the living embodiment of this country’s identity.
Because this relationship has been unique in modern monarchies, it’s been hard to explain it to those who have not experienced it themselves. What I tell my international friends is that they’re wrong if they believe this is only to do with the force of tradition, or with some kind of prescribed “godlike” status.
Our king grew up in what could be called “ordinary” circumstances — going to school in Switzerland with normal children, being raised by a loving and resourceful mother, never being “groomed” for the role of a “demigod.” But it is precisely because he could remember what it is like to be an “ordinary” person that he achieved such extraordinary things. It is because he could look ordinary people in the eye and understand their lives, their struggles and concerns, could truly empathize with them, that he inspired this level of love and devotion and reverence.
In the end it was not his exalted status that commanded all this love — it was he himself — his actions, his selflessness, his heart. There is tremendous sadness in this country today, but, with the inspiration of our King’s life and deeds, I hope that from this sadness will come other things; gratitude for the past seventy years; love for this magical kingdom that has survived so much and come so far in those seventy years … and a continued sense of unity and identity that will keep this kingdom safe and allow it to progress confidently into the future.
Since his passing on October 13, I have had a tremendous sadness— the kind that I thought my heart can literally break apart— the kind that tears were not enough to heal — the kind that nothing made sense after that. I didn’t remember when was the last time I sobbed uncontrollably until this past Thursday when I received the news that Thais’ beloved King Bhumibol Adulyadej has passed away. I am Thai, and am proud to be one of “his children.” And to us, he IS our beloved father, and we call him that, too — the whole country calls him that.
His first royal statement as a king was “I will rule the land with righteousness for all the good and well-being of all Thai people.” Our father had worked so hard for his children and his country for 70 years, and now it’s time for him to rest. I am not so sure I believe in heaven, but I can feel it in my heart that he now resides in the most peaceful place where he can look down to all of Thais with his kind eye — yes, eye NOT eyes as he lost one eye from a car accident at the age of 20, and had used that one eye to work for his country since—and with his love.
Our father has taught us by example to be kind, to work hard, to be modest, to be honest, to be considerate and most importantly, to love & protect our country. His wish was for us to be good & caring people. We will always look up to him with tears in our eyes, but also with a promise to try our best to be just that.
All Thais knew that this day would come sooner or later, we were just hoping that we could have our father for a little while longer— one more year, one more day or even one more second to see him well again. Though Buddha teaches us that change is inevitable and passing is the only thing we can be sure of, we were just hoping that he would pull through like always— but not this time.
I don’t believe he is far away though. Every time that I close my eye and touch my heart, I can feel he is always with me. Whenever I’m faced with difficult decision he has always been with me— with me in my heart. You know, among Thais, we call him ‘Father’ or ‘Nai-laung,’ which roughly translate to ‘in my heart.’ He will always be in my heart, and he will always be my beloved king. As of now, my heart has not healed from the sadness, just yet, but I hope one day I will be able to swallow my tears when I mention his name. Thailand might not be the best country, but we have the best king.
P.S. If you have a second, here is the song, “LOVE ETERNALLY” (version 1 & version 2) that Kipper Eldridge & Paul Ewing did for the King of Thailand in celebration of his 85th Birthday in 2012. It might tell you more of why we love our king so much.
*** All these photos have always been shared on the internet to remind all of Thais how hard he worked for us. I miss him so much it hurts.