A strange thing happened to me last night: I achieved immortality without really trying.
I’m deep into French translation of Phan Ma Ba when the living room phone rings.
‘Hello. This is Seree, Chart’s friend, the poet, who helped you out the other day with the north-eastern dialect. I’ve written an eight-line poem for the inauguration of a bridge over the road in front of *** University. Could you…’
‘Hold on, my desk phone’s ringing. … Oh, hi, Chart, I’m busy with your friend Seree on the other line. I’ll call you back.’
‘…could you translate it into English, so that it features there too?’
Did he say in cement or granite or was it in marble with gold lettering?
I didn’t promise anything, loath as I am to deal at all with fluffy Thai poetry, yet spelt out my email address for him – and within minutes got the poem.
สู่ความงาม ความฝัน อันสดใส
จากในรั้ว นอกรั้ว มหาวิทยาลัย
This took my fancy.
So much so that for the first time in my life, in less than a couple of hours, am I on speed or what, I peed eight verses in English that rhymed. Oh wow! I’d never achieved this much in those dreary titbits of poems I’ve had to waddle through in those novels I transubstantiate for a living.
Nai Seree, who for some reason a moment later reacted in apologetic Thaiglish, was delighted, and so it’s confirmed: from now on, fellow humans, give me room, I’m immortal, cast in stone or granite or marble is it with gold lettering.
Meanwhile I called back Chart. ‘You free on the 25th for Jean’s wedding party?’
‘The books are out, so I owe you some copies and money too.’
‘And I need to teach you formatting.’
And so it was agreed that next Thursday Chart will drop by here prior to our attending the wedding feast in the neighbourhood.
‘Will Soi come too?’
‘She’s the one driving.’
‘How about the dogs?’
‘Let me think about it.’
What about that poem, you say? All right, don’t laugh, here it goes:
A link of love and learning
Joining footprint to footprint in suspense
From within and without the university fence
To step towards beauty and radiant dreaming
By smelting hearts along with technical learning
Forging connections in happiness and peace
Awakens common feelings of love and ease
To let the tree of ideals ever expand
Its mighty foliage, vast and verdant