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FATHER AND SON

Having arrived in the notorious metropolis of Bangkok, we proceeded to book a train journey South, enroute to the island of Koh Panghan. It was a much-needed sanctuary after the dust and noise of the Indian city we had just left behind. Plenty of travelers from Europe and America were purposely packed in one carriage and given pillows and sheets on this comfortable overnight journey to Surat Thani; it was reassuring after the unforgettable train journeys in India.
After various crossings by boat from the mainland to Koh Samui and then onward to the unspoilt beauty of Koh Panghan – an eye-catching enclave on the quiet Leela Beach where a simple hut on the shore would be home for the next few weeks.
During our stay we met a man and his son. This poignant story is about an Austrian man, his teenage son and the crisis that had brought them all this way! The ashen face of this forty-five year old man expressed deep concern; the pasty face of his son, nineteen years old, was limp and lacking in energy or indeed any glimmer of life.
A few nights in a rustic hut on this idyllic beach was their objective; it was a calm and rare lifestyle that many others had consciously chosen for however long their resources allowed it. These two unusual travelers seemed a little different to the typically merry sojourners on the island.
The man was eager to supply a variety of people and projects to entertain his son. Five of us, including a seventeen-year-old girl who seemed to bring a glimmer of life to the young boy, climbed over some rocks and into the neighboring ‘cafe’ for tea. Much to the man’s relief the two teenagers engaged in conversation while he revealed his alarming predicament to us – he seemed desperate. Evidently giving his very life-energy to this crusade he was depleting himself on many levels. There were clear signs of impatience and fatigue as well as an obvious wretchedness as he spoke. Resentment, helplessness, hopelessness, struggle, and exhaustion were profound emotions to encounter within himself during this challenging time.
His son, who was addicted to hard drugs, was in imminent danger of becoming one of the numerous young people, lost and enslaved without any hope of escape. Life had obviously lost any spark of joy for the boy – he needed a reason to live.
Seeking a direction out of this darkness by offering his son a six-month journey anywhere in the world – in fact wherever the boy chose, this man had given up a successful job in his own country. It was a father’s hope of deliverance. The boy was allowed to smoke some marijuana during this time – alleviating an otherwise painful body and soul.
The desperation displayed so plainly on the man’s face cut into our hearts’ and even more tragic was the habitual zombie-like expression on the boy’s face.
They only stayed one night in their serene coastal sanctuary because the teenager chose to move on. Perhaps this unpretentious beach was lacking in the dramatic diversion he needed and sought out as he rapidly sank into a melancholy gloom. This convinced his exhausted father to pack up and leave yet again – no resting place for him. He was a hunted man!
I don’t know what became of them; I only know and remember to this day, how strong were the feelings of a father to heal the damage that had engulfed his son. I saw the depth of commitment and love that a parent is capable of.

Protected by copyright: Charmiene Maxwell-Batten 2010

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FATHER AND SON

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    Notes
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Artist's Description

This is description of my experience of living in a simple hut on a beach in Koh Panghan, Thailand – and to see the haunted expression of an Austrian father trying to help his son come back to life after drugs. This was a very special moment – to have heard this sad story and yet see the ray of hope in a father’s face was inspiring.

You can see my book at this link:
SEE MY BOOK

Featured in: ‘THE WORLD AS WE SEE IT’
Featured in: ‘THE LIGHT AND THE DARKNESS’

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