Reflecting on lives past

This year, National Children's Day was not just about parents spending quality time with their offspring and Thai society paying attention to the younger generation, the so-called "future of the nation". No, on Saturday a huge number of grown-ups also took the time to reminisce about their own childhood.It was another viral phenomenon on the internet. To mark the occasion, there was a widespread practice of people, celebrities included, of course, posting cute and often funny portraits from their school days on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social networking sites. Some even juxtaposed their old pictures with those of their little ones, revealing the striking similarities that attracted loads of "likes" and admiring comments.

Too bad I was away from home and my age-old photo albums; otherwise I would have joined the fun fad. A few familiar pictures did pop up in my mind though. Some are in black and white, while some are in faded colour. But in each and every one of them I was wearing the crew cut hairstyle, which according to a recent announcement from the Ministry of Education is no longer compulsory for students.

Like the world around me, a lot has changed about myself over the past decades. It's not just the hair length or colour, which is now not 100% black. Although the fleck below my left eye remains at the same spot, the adult version of the rest of my face looks very different. I'm also lot taller and stronger, although not as agile.

If I could travel through time and meet the boy I was face to face, I'm sure he wouldn't be able to tell who I am.

My thoughts and opinions have also changed from back then. For example, I used to see the student's forced crew cut as a complete nonsense. I even felt frustrated about the rule because I could never figure out how hairstyle and academic performance were related. Actually, I don't have the answer even now, but these days I don't think it's that big a deal.

Also, when I was a child I used to believe politics had nothing to do with the life of an ordinary Thai person. Yes, I've finally learned that I was wrong. Like many other taxpayers, I know I have to keep my eye on corrupt politicians and make our voices heard.

And admittedly I never really understood why His Majesty the King was so highly respected by my fellow Thais until I was 24, when his royal intervention miraculously brought a sudden stop to the 1992 Black May conflict between the people and the powerful military regime. It was a bloody mess and thousands of protesters were violently suppressed by the armed forces. Nobody had had any idea how or when it would end. Suddenly, it was over, thanks to His Majesty. The more I looked into his numerous royal projects, the more I could see how much this country owes to the great monarch. Nowadays, however, I get dumbfounded by the fact some of my countrymen see it the opposite way.

I could go on and on. And if that boy in my old childhood photos, or the teenager he later transformed into, could sit down and discuss things with this middle-aged man, I bet it would be a hot debate. We might even end up fighting one another!

Then again they must be happy to know what I have done with their future, that I have done my best to make the most of this short life so far, made a few achievements, met so many good people, travelled to different places and never done things we three would have to regret badly.

But the truth is that boy and that teenager are long gone, alive yet no longer exist. Youth is transient, just like Saturday's Facebook fad.

Guess what, I heard a new craze of people posting portraits of their faces deformed by sticky tape is gaining momentum. It's a pity that those young forms of me are no longer around but I know they would love it!


Pongpet is the Bangkok Post's travel editor.

About the author

columnist
Writer: Pongpet Mekloy
Position: Travel Editor