POSTCARD #226: New Delhi: October 13 2016, at the end of that day, I came downstairs and Jiab looked up from her Thai friends fb page and said: the king is dead. Jiab has this minimalist way of communicating. I checked on the internet and got the necessary information and for the rest of the evening there was no discussion, silence, clink of cutlery on dinner plate.
Next morning a Thai friend came to see us and she was wearing black. All through the weekend I could hear Jiab’s fb videos of the mourning, I looked from time to time and people were distressed, in tears, the entire population wearing black now for one year, newsreaders on TV wear black, any unnecessary colour is avoided. Many Thais change their fb profile image to black and white for the duration of breavement.
I’ve seen it before when Galyani Vadhana, Princess of Naradhiwas, the sister of the king passed away. Click on the link and have some idea of the scale of the funeral event. The same wearing of black for one year leading up to the funeral itself and in this case we can expect it to be a much larger event lasting for many hours.
After it all comes to an end, Thailand will be a different place, in a sense it’s the end of the monarchy, there will never be another king to take his place. Without the much-loved figurehead, who knows how Thai society will cope.
But before that there is this long period of mourning, the King has not yet passed away, he is passing away – held still in the hearts and minds of the Thai population who are unwilling to let him go. It’ll take all that time and more for everyone to adjust to the loss and be able to face what’s to come…
“It is proper for you, Kalamas, to doubt, to be uncertain; uncertainty has arisen in you about what is doubtful. Come, Kalamas. Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing; nor upon tradition; nor upon rumor; nor upon what is in a scripture; nor upon surmise; nor upon an axiom; nor upon specious reasoning; nor upon a bias towards a notion that has been pondered over; nor upon another’s seeming ability; nor upon the consideration, ‘The monk is our teacher.’ Kalamas, when you yourselves know: ‘These things are bad; these things are blamable; these things are censured by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to harm and ill,’ abandon them.” [The Buddha’s words: Anguttara Nikaya, Tika Nipata, Mahavagga, Sutta No. 65]