It is a strange and sad silence I can feel s I head towards the Hotel Softies. No one is at sight except some trucks standing here and there. The smell Of fish I am used to dislike is gone, nothing else then gasoline is the only smell get now. I am hoping Assai will show up because it all indicates that there is no one around here. The Hotel Softies we are about to meet up in is almost entirely destroyed, would hardly recognize it if it were not for its sign still barely hanging there. Assai is early and when she sees me she raises up from the bench she was sitting in and gives me a warm hug.
Thank you coming. My baby Kim here, she says. She shows the picture of her happy little 6-year old daughter at the beach taken one year ago. I notice Kim has the exact smile as Assai. Notice it because Assai lights up as she hands me the picture of her lost daughter. Begin to ask her about that day of the tsunami and how it started. Assai takes a deep breath before hardly starting to retell it all. “Me and Kim did, she says and stops a moment to rethink. We were at the bishops early and we did great selling that day. Many tourist had arrived the day earlier.
We sold a lot of fish, sold out completely everything very fast and needed more again. Just like any other day but this day seemed to start out really well I thought” What time was it when you were working I ask. “We started at 11 am. My friend Atari was going to work with me that day at the shop but he went to work in another shop he also had instead. At around twenty past two was hearing that something had happened in phi phi Island. But did not mind asking, I was too busy. ” Phi Phi Island was in fact structured by the tsunami at two o’clock that day.
But the wave there was not as big as it was going to become when it reached to the other places thereafter. I feel kind of uncomfortable when I bring up Kim in the conversation. Assai stares at me with sharp eyes. I captured the sorrow on her face at that moment. “Kim was always helpful and wanted to be independent, always. She offered herself to go and bring back more fish from the fisherman at the beach so that did not have to pay someone else to do it. She went and came back twice but the third time she did not.
That day the number Of lost livelihoods in sherries were 30,000 fishing boats destroyed or damaged were 7,500. I sense that Assai perhaps does not want to continue as it gets more difficult for her. I start considering to end the interview but as I turn off my player that is recording, she continues. “There are many regrets but nothing to do about it. You have to forgive but never forget she says. Know will always that day with me and sometimes I still feel have not forgot myself for letting her go by herself. As alone in the shop and felt she could handle herself great and he wanted to feel as she was helping out.
Still it was my responsibility and my choice had consequences which have to live with now”. Tears begin to fall now. I reach for her and wipe her tears. I hurts to see her suffer so much. Missing a big piece of her life. Still get the feeling she is incredible strong. “But am not alone she says with a determined voice. Kim is always with me, in heart and in soul. She is looking after me, I can feel it. Many people I know have right now lost entire families.
Children,parents,cousins and brothers. People around me are in worse condition think. It is a difficult times for us all involved. We need to help one and other”. At that moment a thought strikes me. Whew I have wished so many a Happy New Year back home in New York City. L know now that this New year is far from being happy for these people here. It is a beginning which starts with pain. It happened on a casual day and turned everything around. It feels like a goodbye to the former Land of smiles that and everyone else are use to, at least for a while.