December 6, 2023

Collateral damage. That is how he describes himself.
We were both looking for a place to shelter from the scorching sun heat of Bangkok. It was 9 a.m. and the sun was high, enough to melt my matcha.
He said a casual hi. “Here for a vacation?” I asked. “No, here for healing” he responded. I stopped drinking and stared at him. I can see no sign of injury and his physical condition is perfectly fine.
He said it is his responsibility to heal from the trauma he never wanted and never deserved. He then started to tell me his story. When he was eight years old, the exchange of shout between his parents would wake him up. He was lucky enough if there were no flying kitchen wares. The nights of his childhood were filled with anxiousness, waiting for one, or both, of his brothers to come home drunk. Drunk person would mean sleepless nights trying to stop both brothers from killing each other. Since their neighbors are fed up, he felt ashamed to ask for help. Nonetheless, he would find himself knocking on their doors begging to help them.
He was smiling painfully when he told me that the worst part is not the events that happened, but the result. He was the worst consequence. He became the collateral damage on someone else’s warpath, an innocent bystander who got wrecked out of proximity.
What is funny, he said, is how his family acted like nothing happened after fights and attempted killings. Although he wanted to hate them, he cannot. He has been believing that his parents and both of his brothers are also fighting a battle of their own. The pain and resentment of their own life needs a space to be expressed. There were times, he said, that he questioned time, as if it is not enough to hone them to be better adults, to know how to handle feelings.
When I asked him how he survived, he said that surviving was easy, what comes after is perplex. He said he is not tired of it but he thinks it’s time to heal from all of it. Sufficient damage has been created enough for the remaining years to be healed. He emphasized that he is not at fault, however healing in the aftermath will always fall on him. “What are your plans to heal here?” I asked.
My phone rang, the shuttle to the conference is ready. I stood and said goodbye. This person didn’t find healing, rather he decided to be healed.
Heal, whatever process, because you deserve it, no matter what.