Perseverance: The last lesson from our Father
THE LAST 38 hours before the Royal Cremation of His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej on Thursday were not only melancholic but also thought provoking and educational.
Assistant Professor Wilaiwan Jongwilaikasaem, lecturer of Journalism and Mass Communication at Thammasat University, penned a special piece for The Nation about the lessons she learned during her journey to express abiding loyalty and gratitude to King Rama IX, a father figure to all Thais.
The first lecture: Checkpoint
Oct 24, 10.30pm – My friends and I took a taxi to reach a checkpoint behind the Defence Ministry which, according to our calculation, gave us the best chance to enter Sanam Luang and be among 45,000 bidding farewell to the late monarch.
The taxi passed through Rajdamnoen Nok Road where people were thronging the pavements. At the Bamrung Muang intersection, we got out of the car, kept walking and found a vacant spot in front of one house. With the permission of its owner, we sat there to join the queue.
Oct 24, 11.55pm – Suddenly, there was a bustle as volunteers called for four rows of queues to the checkpoint. More than 10,000 of the Father’s children rushed to join the queue where we would spend the next six hours. Conversation flowed; strangers became acquaintances. “We will all pass this checkpoint together,” we told each other.
Oct 25, 6.15am – We finally made it. My registration number was B03291. Smiles smeared our tired faces.
The first lesson in perseverance was learned.
(courtesy of Wilaiwan Jongwilaikasaem)
The second lecture: Sunlight and rain
Oct 25, 7am – My friends – my new friends – and I found a spot in front of one gate of the Grand Palace. Although wet, the place would allow us to have a clear view of the Royal Processions. It would also be relatively sheltered from the hot sun. Volunteers started distributing royally granted meals.
Still, from 8am onwards we were all hot enough to melt. Two hours later, people craved any kind of shade they could find – from under trees to under their own clothes. As if that was not enough of a lesson in endurance, the rain joined in.
Oct 25, 2.05pm – There was a sudden heavy shower when our group walked around the area. We rushed back to protect our spare clothes. It took a good 10 minutes to get there but a considerate elderly woman had already covered our bags well with a rubber sheet. We thanked the auntie profusely; we asked her how she could endure baking-hot sun since the morning, only to be amazed by her response: “I put up with just this much. Our Father went through much more than this.”
The second lesson in perseverance was learned.(courtesy of Wilaiwan Jongwilaikasaem)
The third lecture: Human beings
The number of mourners almost tripled to 110,000 during the last 38 hours of the Royal Cremation. Cramped for space, we ate together, slept, and waited in lines for an hour just to use bathrooms. No one complained nor cut the queue. Instead, we were reciprocal, considerate and forgiving of each other during those hours.
My friends were overwhelmed to be fortunate enough to bid our Father the final farewell. For me, however, he was giving us all great lessons in perseverance through the Royal Cremation, even during the final hours before his eternal departure.(courtesy of Wilaiwan Jongwilaikasaem)