Chapter 8 - The Children.
Everything was going well in our lives. With his professional competence, Arthit rose rapidly within Ocean Eletrick. I also made my progress within my family’s company. On several occasions, our companies have done some work in partnership. During one of these jobs, we won our first baby. I remember Arthit arriving with him in his arms, saying that our coworker knew we were married and had given it to us as a gift. With a silly smile, which he liked to put on his face when he wanted to convince me of something, he asked if we could stay with him. Seeing that ball of white and brown fur in Arthit’s arms, with that prickly look, with his tongue hanging out, made me laugh. Toshiba, the name was chosen in honor of our coworker, has become the joy of the house. As I always woke up early, it was my responsibility to take him out in the morning. The night would be Arthit’s responsibility, but we always ended up doing it together. What we didn’t know yet was that Toshiba would be responsible for another major change in our lives. He would find our children!
We were completing twelve years of marriage and, to celebrate the date, we decided to leave the city and went to spend the weekend at the beach, where we had married. As it was a special weekend, I didn’t let Arthit sleep until late as he liked to do. We went for a walk on the beach accompanied by Toshiba, who loved to run when he was without his collar. Sometimes he ran by the water’s edge, other times he chased small crabs that hid under the sand. Toshiba didn’t used to get away from us very much, but, as the beach was short of people that day, we let him run freely, further and further away. Until, at a given moment, he stopped for a few moments and ran into some bushes that grew near the beach. As we walked towards him, he ran back with a child beside him. Despite being quite docile, Toshiba was not a dog that liked a lot of contact with children, which made us worried. However, at that moment, he was totally open to that boy who ran beside him. Toshiba hopped, rolled over the sand and licked the boy’s face, who kept laughing with the dog’s games. As we approached them, we started to wonder about the absence of an adult accompanying that child. The boy must have been between four and five years old. We started talking to the little boy, who said he was called “Sumssai”. Time passed and our anguish increased as no adult came looking for the boy. While Arthit stayed with the child, I ran home to get water, some fruit and an umbrella, to feed him and protect him from the heat. We didn’t want to get him out of that area, in case an adult came looking for him. Toshiba seemed to understand what was happening and did not leave the side of the little boy, who was beginning to show signs of tiredness. When the boy fell asleep, we saw that we could no longer stand there. Arthit put the little boy in his arms and we went home. When he wakes up we would decide what to do!
We put a mattress on the terrace floor, which was quite cool, and put “Sumssai” sleeping on it. While we were having lunch, Toshiba simply lay down beside the boy and stood on guard. After discussing what to do, we concluded that the best decision would be to go to the nearest police station, taking the boy, and decide with the police an action plan to find those responsible. When “Sumssai” woke up, we did exactly what we agreed. We went straight to the police station. As we headed there, some questions started to haunt us: what if no one was looking for the boy? Would he be alone? Would he have to sleep at the police station? Where would he go? It was being too much to process! Oblivious to everything we were talking about, “Sumssai” continued to laugh while playing with Toshiba in the back seat, until we finally arrived.
As soon as we entered the police station, with Arthit carrying “Sumssai” in her arms, a nun who was sitting at the reception shouted Somchai’s name - that’s how we found out his real name - and ran towards us. While holding the boy, the nun started a very heartfelt cry. The deputy invited us to his office and asked where we had found the boy. After talking about everything that had happened, he told us that the boy lived in an orphanage nearby, and that during a walk with the nuns, due to a small carelessness, the boy got lost in the group. The other nuns returned to the orphanage with the other children, while Sister Namtan had decided to stay until she got word from Somchai. With everything cleared up, we offered a ride to drop them off at the orphanage and Sister Nam, as she asked to be called, accepted at once, and off we went. She sat in the back seat, next to Somchai. Toshiba lay down beside the boy with his head in his lap. On the way she told us that Somchai had been abandoned at the orphanage’s gate just six months ago, along with his brother Kalan, who was no more than a few days old. She spoke about the difficulties of the orphanage, how difficult it was for children to be adopted, especially when they had siblings. The more we heard the story, the more we got our hearts tight. We arrived there in the late afternoon and were invited to visit the orphanage. It was a huge old building, with simple furniture. We saw several children playing in the garden and in the TV room. Others in their rooms, which were divided by the age of the children. In some rooms we saw cribs, in others they had beds and we found bunk beds where the older ones lived in. We met Kalam, who was just over six months old. As we walked towards the exit, Sister Nam gave us a hug and thanked us for everything we did for Somchai and for her, inviting us to come back whenever we felt like. Somchai said goodbye to us with a hug and a kiss that popped on our cheeks. In addition, he took other licks from Toshiba on his face, causing more laughter. Everything seemed to be resolved, but our hearts were no longer the same as when we went for a walk on the beach in the morning.
On our way back home, we were silent most of the time. Arthit had a sad face, which I had not seen in his face for a long time. Even though I said nothing, in an attempt to comfort him, I sometimes let my hand rest on his leg, or on his shoulder. Close to home, he looked at me and said that we had to do something. At that moment, another big change was beginning to take shape in our lives. Before returning home, we went to the local market and bought lots of gifts and food to take to the kids at the orphanage the next day. We got home feeling electric. We couldn’t wait to see the eyes of those children when we got there with all those presents.
Arthit rarely woke up before me. But that day, when I woke up, in addition to being already up he had even made breakfast. After eating, we flew to the orphanage. We really wanted to see those children, but there was one in particular that wouldn’t leave our head. When we arrived, we were greeted by Sister Nam, who was delighted with the gifts. She knew how much joy it would bring to the boys she was helping to raise. Calling the children to the garden, the day was turned into a big party. Watching so much joy up close warmed our hearts. Somchai wouldn’t let go of us, except when he was going to run after Toshiba. Seeing how bright Arthit’s eyes were looking at that boy, I had no doubts: Arthit was in love with another man, and there was nothing I could do. I was too.
After lunch, while some children rested, we went to talk to Sister Nam. We said that we were a couple and that we were very interested in adopting Somchai and Kalan. We wanted to know if she had anything against it. She smiled and very calmly asked us:
- You love each other?
- Yes! We responded together. Very much! Completed Arthit.
- Unlike many people, I never believed that there could be a God who was against love. I can’t imagine a child that I love going to a home where they are not loved. I’m sure my boys will be happy and very loved by you. Thank you so much for giving me that happiness. She said giving us a tight hug.
It was hard to say goodbye to Somchai and Kalan. Even Toshiba didn’t seem to want to leave. We left with tears in our eyes, but happy. That, of course, was not the anniversary celebration we had planned, but we would not change anything that happened. In a matter of days our family would be bigger. We ran like crazy to streamline adoption roles. The news was received like a bomb by the whole family. They had already given up hope that we were going to adopt a child and, suddenly, two would arrive at once. In the meantime, our routine became a weekly commute to the orphanage. Seeing and playing with the boys became a necessity that made us look forward to the weekend with great anxiety. We decided it was time to move to a house. We wanted to see our children growing up, running and playing in the garden. On the day that Arthit turned forty, we received the greatest gift of our lives. Our sons Somchai and Kalan Sutthilack-Rojnapat came to live with us.