Place Where You Live:

Bangkok, Thailand

Chao Phraya River

Khun Pho’s painted words brought nature alive as my grandfather made me understand life before the metallic plagued the city.

Every morning, Khun Pho and I sat on the edge of our front porch letting our feet sweep the silent surface of the Chao Phraya River. Khun Pho would reach into the water and drag his wrinkled hands in a gentle but swift motion, letting the water droplets circulate in the air. He would press his palms and fingers together against his chest and wai to show respect to the waters and regain peace and balance. He would whisper to the winds as if reciting a prayer while looking out into the flow of history and time.

Khun Pho’s river was a crystal—clear and pure. It was the color of a fragile Blue Jay egg and looked like a subtle sweep of a painter’s brush that swirled through the land. But my Chao Phraya is now as dark as winter nights as the pollution and excessive use transformed it into toxic sludge. Pillars of ash and iron stand silently in the background, a malicious puncture of the blue sky. Chemicals and waste smear the surface, enwrapping the blue, beating heart of the Chao Phraya. The river journeys through the burgeoning cities throughout Thailand, picking up plastic bags rather than water lilies along the way.

But Khun Pho’s memories of the river still remain. The river has been passed down for me to cherish and admire. It is the same river that flows outside my house. Single droplets of water still break away from the whole as they are thrown from the cascade of water rushing over a boulder or rolling off the crest of a wave. Then, each droplet falls back into the river, becoming part of the whole.