Mama’s Trip To Lopburi
It began when as a puppy he was
one of two white dogs given to us.
His mate, Namtooum, was so frantic
with the prospect of life that we had
to give her to a wat much like families
gave crazy women to nunneries in olden
My wife said Mama was always trying to
get into our house because when he
was deathly ill as a pup, she brought him
in and gave him Panadol when his head
swelled. He survived and grew to be a
tick-magnet. One day I pulled over thirty
of the little black arachnoids out of
his Andy Warhol hair.
He often followed me on my walk,
stopping off to kill chickens along the way.
He killed our little girls’ rabbit, too. Once
Leaving the driveway I actually ran
over him. He seemed indestructible.
He would not mind me. Inside the house
fence. I could beat him with a stick and
he would not move, but one word from
my wife or her mother and he’d beat it
as if chased by the devil herself.
No, he was not a good dog, but I felt he
expected more of me than he did of the Thais.
He was emaciated and his skin was
rotting from a shoulder wound when he died.
I’m not versed in country ways so my
wife had a Bangkok taxi-driver-friend put
him in a sack and drive him to the Lopburi
canal which is wider and straighter than the
Merrimack and runs for 40 miles straight
to Lopburi. There the driver threw him in
while twelve-year-old Boom watched.
When she came back, she was almost joyous.
“Mama,” she said, “is going to Lopburi.”
Aren’t we all?
Mama is the brand name of a Thai noodle sold in a cup that you just add water to.
Namtooumb is the Thai word for flood.
I was furious that Mama killed chickens. The only way we could stop him from following me was to alert Chunky’s mother that I was going for a walk. She’d stand at the end of the driveway and say a few Thai words of dog-talk. He would then hang his head, take a few steps backward, and then turn tail and run away from her.
The Thais, perhaps because they are Buddhists have a different take on death than we do in the west. Death is not something dreadful, nor is it something to be tampered with. My wife’s uncle is dying and I asked Chunky if anyone has given him anything for his pain. The question seemed to puzzle her as to why anyone would want to do that. I doubt that assisted suicides would ever be an issue here.
As a generality I don’t think the Thais imprint an anthropological persona on their pets either. I remember my father crying when he took our dog to be put down – I think he loved that dog more than anyone else in the house. The Thais would never do this. A dog is a dog, not a family member.
This weekend, Chunky and her mother are having a 100 day anniversary of the death of her grandfather. If I could join the Foreign Legion for a weekend, I would. I hate these parties.