Friday, August 03, 2012

Everybody Talks

So about the family business!

Talked about my less than savoury relatives - well at least some of them - up north a while back but here's a brief summary. The infamous mai pen rai tolerance of the Thais obviously extends to that of the marriage vows since my late uncle certainly never really believed in commitment and monogamy. Fortunately his genial nature - and his overwhelming generosity - kept the entire polygamous family in order with the three tempestuous wives ( confined to separate households ) generally maintaining, if not entirely amicable, at least vaguely civil discourse.

Who knew the fabricated family harmony would be so fragile as to crumble into ashes moments after his funeral. Leaving behind a passel of orphaned half-siblings with avaricious matriarchs claws-ready to do battle.

No, this isn't a soap opera like Dallas.

Now which side of the city should I head to first?

Which basically is how I ended up - almost a decade later - with first cousins barely on speaking terms with each other. The samaritan, the snake-oil salesman and the soda girl. The coach and the candystriper. So arranging schedules and times to meet takes a bit of nimble maneuvering. Yes, it's complicated.

And yes, I make up names for almost everyone.

No doubt the last time these estranged brothers and sisters met was for their father's funeral - since I doubt they have all been constrained to a room together ever since. Providentially they have all since moved to opposite ends of Bangkok - which I half-suspect could have been written into the terms of their late father's controversial will.

Turns out though that the snake-oil salesman - recently married - had the most intriguing piece of news told to us over a delicious dinner by the river. But even the best tom yam kung couldn't have stopped me from coughing bits of it out when he told me this.

Salesman : My wife is pregnant. 
Paul : That was ... speedy but nonetheless congratulations. 
Salesman : Don't tell anyone though. I'm keeping it a secret from my mother.
Paul : How? Won't your wife start showing soon? 
Salesman : That's why I moved her to a different apartment!
Paul : And how would you explain a missing wife?
Salesman : No problem with that, my mother hates her. 
Paul : Surely she would reconcile with the first grandchild!
Salesman : She might not be ready to be a grandmother. 
Paul : And she might what? Go berserk and kill herself? Poison the child? 
Salesman : I wouldn't put it past her. 

Then again, this has all the wildly melodramatic ingredients of a late night soap opera.

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