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Breathe; four deafening blows following one another with two seconds of break; a symphony of overlapping noise. At that moment you hope for thunder, but the remaining black sky with no lightning only confirmed my doubts. I’m not sure if the screaming started before or during the time of panicked running, probably a mixture of both. The thick crowd filled the narrow side street with chaos. People were running, half, I assume, not knowing where to go. Just running. In time of hysteria, we as humans become useless. We’re sheep being led into the mouth of a wolf, like children foolishly sleeping with the closet door open at night. And when it happens, the horrible thing we’re all alarmed about, we can’t believe it. We were looking at it approaching us the whole time, aware of its being but we just stand there dumb founded. I wish people stood still on this night. Too many faces with different expressions on them were being shoved into me. I wanted to capture some of the people’s emotions, but the moment was not for a camera. People were pushing in all different directions; some going towards the disaster while others ran the opposite way. My experience in Thailand opened my eyes. This happened in one night, one moment. These are my observations. Babies were crying, and toddlers were wide-eyed stunned. Some people collapsed in the middle of the crowd. I always stared too long at them helplessly lying there. I got that natural feeling of longing to help. But I couldn’t. So I kept moving.
My mom’s grasp, firm but calm on my wrist, was surprisingly annoying. It was the kind of hold you got after you aimlessly drifted too far away from your parents in a crowded area when you were five years old. The one that made you sigh and almost hang your head in embarrassment. “Curiosity killed the cat “, Ben Johnson first stated. That was the first thought that came to my head when I turned around in the crowd trying to see what was going on. We were running away from the scene. Obviously. We were already on our way back to our room before this all started. Black uniforms of traditional police were everywhere. Standing all along the sidewalks in repetitive rows, some were running, some just marching. Military were also seen all over the streets, easily recognized with their camouflage gear on and their hand held rifles. The air was heavy as always, humid and muggy. It was too hot for nighttime and with the added temperature of body heat, it almost felt like you were suffocating. I was drenched in sweat. We weren’t running, just a brisk walk. My mom and I don’t panic, we just act how needed to fix things. I wasn’t scared. I sensed my mom was, though. The noise of people yelling, crying and screaming, the sound of cop cars and ambulances and official sounding voices echoing through speakers only made me walk in awe.
We worked our way through the crowd and came across a storefront that was sheltered away from the insanity. There, we sat and watched the mess we just came out of with a large group of local Thai’s and police officers. I sat on a high, concrete edge away from everyone. My mom kept calling me to come inside the closed area, saying, ‘Don’t be stubborn’. I continued to sit. Just off of this side street was the main road where all the excitement was. The people’s protest. The Sua Dang. This too, was where the bombs went off. We were standing there, in the crowd of people protesting against the other people across the street who were protesting the government. The red shirts, they’re casually called, the bad guys. These red shirts have become unreasonable, causing intended disruption. They blocked off a street and set base, looking out to the main road. On the main road, at night, the people who are for the government get so riled up and angry that they form their own group. The two groups bicker back and forth. The only reason the red shirts haven’t plowed through to take over this street is the police and military that stand there all day, securing everything. The red shirts are protesting against how the government is so corrupt, right they are, but there actions only worsen this situation. Businesses are losing business, some closing down. The people become split, are you a red shirt or for the government? Maybe you’re a multi-colored shirt, the ones who are in between. This whole thing would scare any normal tourist, any sane human being I guess. So why was I so fascinated? Why wasn’t I crying or scared for my life? I just wasn’t. The protesters aren’t looking to harm or kill you, they don’t want violence. Contradicting themselves, the redshirts started an unannounced civil war.
The Thai people we were sitting with were scared for us, amazed that we weren’t running away. They were even more amazed when my mom started speaking fluent Thai. Thai’s appreciate that kind of stuff; they love how people love their culture and country. They are also some of the most generous and caring people you’ll ever meet. This happening in the country is a first; never have the Thai’s acted towards this. They aren’t violent people, not a violent culture. After sitting in the dark for about eight minutes, everything was silent. The street was cleared, give or take the random person here and there. All the noise seemed to have just been turned off. Muted. It was sort of beautiful, such an eerie beauty. At least that’s what I thought and still think. I was still sticky with sweat, you always are in Thailand. My mouth was dry and lips were in need of Chap Stick. I wanted to brush my teeth too. My eyes and body felt heavy when I hopped off the ledge and started walking towards the now deserted bomb scene. My mom followed. My stride was solid, good rhythm, one two, one two. Consistent. I paused for my mom to catch up and then continued on. We walked in silence and I broke it saying how cool this was. She gulped. We arrived to the main road, Sulim Road. Lifeless, there were people still sitting under stores and ledges and some like us who were going towards to the crime scene. It was all yellow-taped off and there were only police inside of it. Blood stained the concrete and the windows to the bank were all broken. The bodies at that time were all taken away. Thank goodness. My stomach dropped. The pit of it felt empty. I kept a good face on for my mom though.
We talked to one of the locals that saw the whole thing from across the street and they said limbs and blood was flying everywhere; a war scene, a movie. I remember thinking how I wanted to see that, how you never, ever in your lives get to see an act like that. How horrible am I? I wanted to see people dying to satisfy my own wonderment, to ‘experience’ a not needed experience. I think more than anything shock makes you think stupid, in my case, ignorant. How can I be saying that I want to see something so graphic, so surreal. These were people’s lives; this was a daughter or a son, a mom and a dad. This was someone, who impacted another person’s life, someone who would be mourned after at his or her funeral. I could have been that person. You see, ten minutes before the bombs went off, my mom and I were standing in that exact spot with all the Thai people protesting against the red shirts. We were absorbing the atmosphere, taking pictures and living in the moment. It was pretty amazing. After being in the crowd for about twenty minutes my mom said it was time to go back, she was getting tired and I admit I was too. I told my mom we should wait around a little more, we were waiting for some action to happen between the two groups, instead it was just chanting and rude comments. I was eager, a child. She didn’t go for it, so we left. On our way back, we were talking about it, this was our third night out here and we could see how it all has escalated, how one day it’s going to burst and a huge fight will take place. I remember looking at the 7-11 illuminated sign and thinking how good it would be to have a cotton candy slurpee right now. I longed for it in my head. I was dragging my feet too, as exhaustion was taking over me. We chatted about useless things, making small talk. I noticed my breathing, do you know how annoying that is, when you think about your breathing and you can’t seem to stop, it doesn’t seem automatic anymore, it feels like you have to control it. I bet you’re thinking about it now. Sorry. That’s when they went off. BOOM, one, two; BOOM, one, two; BOOM, one two; BOOM! You could feel the ground shake, the manufactured wind against your body. Instantly my mom grabbed my wrist and we continued going forward, I was no longer dragging my feet. My breath felt short. I forgot about it.
The night was over, My mom and I walked back to our room, hoping the same incident wouldn’t repeat itself. Hoping we could sleep in our beds like we wanted to two hours ago. There was a patch of blood, near the door to our place. Someone who was injured must have ran into our hotel. I took a picture of it. We entered the cool room, wind down and eventually went into bed. I surprisingly wasn’t thinking of what just happened. This eventful night didn’t replay in my head until the next morning. I wanted sleep; I craved it. My eyelids were heavy, my body motionless. I closed my eyes and drifted soundlessly.





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