My father taught Supachai English, every Tuesday. Supachai stood outside our door till someone opened it for him because he believed that ringing the doorbell was not an act of politeness. He managed to pass his B.A. exams two years after everyone in his class graduated – he was slow and he took his time getting anywhere.
He gifted my father a set of carved knives before he left. ‘Made in Thailand’, he said, ‘Good knives. Thank you for helping.’
For years, my mother kept the knives in the bottom drawer of the kitchen cupboard, claiming they were useless and rather impractical.
Supachai died during the Thailand 2010 floods, he refused to leave his house in Songkhla till it was too late – apparently, he was still slow and he still took his time getting anywhere.
My mother found the knives during a spring clean a few months after that. We now use them on special occasions like birthdays. Every time, we slice through frosted cakes with those knives, my mother looks at my father and says ‘Remember that boy from Thailand? Supachai?’
We pause our toasting then and think of the dead Supachai for a moment while wishing the birthday person another happy year ahead.
Vaiju Joshi’s fiction has appeared in Bartleby Snopes, Untoward, The Waterhouse Review, Vegemite Whiskers (an anthology of new Australian writing), Adelaide Review, Global Short Story competition, Sentinel Literary Quarterly, Six Sentences and the Five Stop Story Project amongst others. Her fiction also was short-listed for the Best Australian Short Stories 2010 and 2011 anthologies. She is an engineer by profession and is currently editing her first novel. She lives in Adelaide, Australia.