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20 minutes between the iron bars


Prison visit to Somyot on 27 June 2013

Thursday mornings at 08.30 am are when Somyot and I have a regular weekly visit. Iron bars and secure windows keep us apart but can’t separate our souls. I was given Room No. 1, which is the last interview room in the row in Bangkok Remand Prison. Without hesitation, Somyot walked fast and looked straight at me and smiled; his smile made the world so bright and full of hope and peace. I was so relieved to meet him that morning. 

Photo By Karnt Thassanaphak 


As that room has no telephone phone, I had to shout otherwise he could not hear me which would make me unhappy. Luckily it was quiet that day with only a lady and her husband sharing the room with us. The clock seemed to stop and allow us to spend time together. At that moment, we shared the feeling of love and care for each other without saying a word and I forgot we had just 20 minutes until the alarm bell rang. He repeats the same questions to me every week i.e. Are you living alone? Are our kids with you? How are they doing? I wasn’t bored to hear the same questions, I knew how he felt but he probably did not realize how many times he asked me. Sometimes I felt these questions were illogical but I understood him this day. He was probably worried about our safety but he was afraid to say so out loud.


I don’t know exactly what a man wants but I guess everyone wants the same thing, which is tender love! It is not just food, medicine, air and water but also food for thought and something for his soul. He needs someone to care about him, talk to him, give him moral support and assure him that he is great and that he is being loved. My colleague said that she treated her direct male subordinates with more gentleness and care and it worked well. So a strong man like Somyot still needs a warm hug and nurturing.


After 26 months of imprisonment, it’s actually been a crisis in our lives but I have learned a lot. It’s a pity that we had plenty of time before his detention but we hardly talked or shared our feelings. Now we have only 20 minutes a week, but we understand each other better. Earlier, I was very reluctant to talk about myself, my career and my wellbeing and so was he. Now we have to make every single minute as valuable as we can so I express myself more by talking or writing to him.


Life is so short and I can’t afford to lose any opportunity to show how much I care about him. I don’t want to be in the same situation as Pa-Ueh (Rosmarin) who did not even say good bye to her husband, Ah-Kong (Amphon), before his last breath.



29 June 2013



About Author: Sukanya Pruksakasemsuk aka known Joop, is the wife of Somyot Pruksakasemsuk.



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