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This story is written by a person, who was then a little girl, from her memories of what happened to her family in the wake of the incident.  One of her elder brothers was a student leader at the protest at Thammasat University. The article was published in a book disseminated at the funeral of her father in May this year.


Late that morning, about a hundred of young men and women burst into my home at Tha Phrachan through the front door and second-floor windows at the back.  The sound of explosions blasted our ears. One of them shit herself, and my mother gave her a new pair of pants to change. Her own clothes were put to soak in a bucket at the back of the house.  When about a dozen military and police troops carrying rifles entered the house and searched all floors, my father led them and asked them in a trembling voice over and over again that ‘Please don’t shoot anybody.’  His voice was as familiar as the distant voice which had woken me up at dawn, ‘Brother soldiers!  Please don’t shoot.  We have no weapons,’ which had been repeated over and over again until I dozed off and woke up again in the tumultuous late morning.

The soldiers took all the young men and women from the house, and came back to drag away my fourth brother who had nothing to do with it.  According to my elder sisters, he was hit with a rifle and knocked down in front of my family.   I was upstairs.  What I remember clearly was hearing a long scream from my mother and sisters, which I heard only this one time in my life.  I ran down to look, seeing my parents heartbroken.

The house was gloomy, as the shop was closed with only a little light coming through the skylight above the front door.  I heard my sisters discussing how to get our brother home while waiting for news of two other brothers who had joined the protest.  Black and white photographs of what had happened outside in the morning were sent to my family, showing that many young men and women had been killed in an unbelievably grotesque way in our own neighbourhood less than a kilometre away from our house.

Our three brothers were jailed.  The fourth brother was released first, because he had never been to any protests.  He, however, came back with several wounds on his body caused by burning cigarettes.

My elder sister who was a high-school student decided to leave home to go to the jungle with her friends.  She was on the government blacklist, as she had been arrested and detained for one night not long before the 6 Oct incident.  Our family had no reason to believe that she would not be dragged away any time soon.

My fifth brother was one of the 36 detainees, and was jailed for almost a year before being released and then fleeing to the jungle after the others.

Before 6 Oct, I heard the fiery voice of Thommayanti [a bestselling Thai novelist] on the radio, mentioning the name of my sixth brother, when my father was closing the shop in the evening.  Father chastised him when he came home a few hours later, saying that he had been accused of being a communist.

Father probably became unsure as to how his thirst for knowledge about society, which he had cultivated in his children, had become a danger to society.

The shop opened again.  That day mother chopped roast pork and arranged it in several sets in baskets.   She took me and my 10-year-old elder brother on a bus to the prison in Bangkhen to visit her other two sons.  There were still open fields on both sides of the road with advertising billboards appearing periodically.  It was a long ride, and we nearly dozed off.  After getting off the bus, we had to walk under the hot sun for almost a kilometre to the prison.

It was noisy, and I saw several mothers greeting mine.  The same weary smile showed on their faces at the glimpse of their sons when they appeared.  My brothers were behind iron bars in one of a row of small rooms with a space of about a meter wide separating them from visitors.  Running and playing around, I remembered that my brothers never cried or showed any sign of worry.  They always smiled and greeted the wardens.  Mother had brought rice and roast pork for everyone including the policemen and wardens.  She had no other choice but to believe that if she was good to them, they would be good to her sons as well.

Father visited my brothers only once, because he could not stand seeing them behind bars.  He opened the shop now with a will to collect money to build a new house far away from whatever had taken away his children.  

Mother got up at about four in the morning every day, cooked chicken and prepared to open the shop at seven.  When we got up, we would point to the pieces of roast pork inside the glass cabinet which we wanted to eat.  She would keep lean chicken breasts for us with no need for us to ask for it.  Lunch time was a busy period as customers filled the shop.  I only helped serve, leaving others to collect the money for fear of making a mistake and getting scolded by father as a result.    

At 10 pm, mother would finish with the cleaning and close the shop.  She would then go upstairs and turn on a small transistor radio to listen to the short wave station ‘Voice of the People of Thailand’.  

My parents would listen to the always disrupted programme for hours until they fell asleep.  As I recall, the voice, often female, said ‘when the sky is golden, the people will rule.’

They hoped that when the day came, they would get their daughter back, although the chair of the [communist] party always spoke in a difficult language night after night.

In a way, they might have thought that the voice came from where their daughter was.  The voice might belong to their daughter’s friends, or young women who had so much to say like her.  That was the way they tried to learn the life their daughter might be living.

My sister wrote from the jungle.  The letters came several months apart and each took three to four months to reach us.  My closest brother and I had to take turns reading the letters aloud for our parents.  The language was quite as peculiar as that heard from the radio programme, and expressed unfailing trust in the party.  The tone was not really like that of the sister I had known, but the handwriting did look like hers.

One afternoon, my eldest sister sat to write a letter in lime juice, without being able to see what she was writing.  I asked her out of curiosity.  She showed me that when the letter was ironed, the message would then appear.  When it was finished, she folded the letter, placed it at the bottom of a paper bag and covered it with a piece of glued cardboard.  The bag was to contain food and other things for my sixth brother in prison.  This was because letters would be read by prison officials, who censored them or did not send them at all.  And the senders might easily be charged with being communist.  Mostly the letters were copies of those from the brother, sister and friends in the jungle.  I had no idea whether or not there was any plot to subvert the institution in those letters, but we never saw any political crisis caused by leftists later on; only a coup attempt to grab power among the military themselves in March 1977 which resulted in its leader [Gen] Chalad Hiransiri being jailed in the same prison as my brother before being executed.

While communication with the brother in prison was subject to censorship by the rightists, my sister’s strange language in her letters from the jungle might have resulted from censorship by the leftists there as well.

My parents listened to the Voice of the People of Thailand for several years.  When seven hundred days had passed, my family got to hug my sixth brother in front of the prison when he was released.  I was not there, but saw mother on the satellite news (which was new in Thailand at that time); she hugged the brother with her eyes closed amid a busy crowd, and the image was cut.

It was a victory for two parents who had got one of their children back, in contrast to many others who had only questions about where their children had gone.

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