A King for all ages

A King for all ages

Last Thursday was the saddest day for Thai people. It was late evening when I was driving home with my two children who were asleep in the back seat. As soon as the radio anchor announced the passing of our beloved King, tears began pouring down my face.

My older daughter woke up asking me what happened and then fell silent after I told her to listen to the radio. Most traffic came to a standstill at that very moment. A sense of great sorrow filled the air.

The feeling that evening belied the morning when we were so happy changing our Facebook profile pictures to pink, with a message that read "Love the King". Most Thais wore pink this day -- the colour believed to bring back good health to His Majesty.

The King had great affection for the Thai people, and the Thai people loved him back. At Siriraj Hospital last week, people from many provinces streamed in to pray and sign their names and express their best wishes for the King's good health. I could not go there, but I had the chance to pray at home.

We all loved the King. Almost every home, office and public building is adorned with portraits of His Majesty and other members of the Royal Family. I can still remember quite vividly as a youth, watching my father meticulously brush the dust from portraits of the King and the Queen. Relocating from China with my grandparents to settle in Thailand, my father once told me the Chinese people never forgot the King's kindness. Back then I did not really understand what he meant.

But as I matured, I learned that the King was one of the hardest working heads of state. Throughout his 70 years on the throne, he tirelessly worked on development projects to improve the lives of all Thai people and bring them a genuine and lasting happiness. His activities covered all the affairs in diverse fields -- from science to agriculture.

We are familiar with the pictures of the King paying regular visits to his people in all regions, particularly in remote and impoverished areas. The King initiated thousands of development projects that have greatly benefited the country and Thai people.

In 1992, my friend and I joined the protest against the government of Gen Suchinda Kraprayoon. A bloody military crackdown followed. It was the King who brought peace to end the political turmoil when it was needed most. Without the King, who stepped in to halt the military massacres, many more people would have been dead. Throughout his reign, His Majesty was a symbol of national unity.

Every Dec 4 up until the past few years -- one day before His Majesty's birthday -- we Thai people always waited to listen to the King's annual message. There will be no such talk from now on.

Last Thursday evening was the first time I intentionally listened to the speech delivered by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. "Oct 13 will be in the memory of Thai people forever. It was a 70-year period of limitless public benefit and now it is limitless sorrow for the people."

Right now the best way to show loyalty and to mourn is to pursue the King's teachings.

The sufficiency economy philosophy can be applied to every aspect of our daily life. Every time my children needed to buy new pencils, they often said the King would use his pencils until they became so short he would not be able to hold them.

A large number of Thais have only lived under the reign of one king. But as I always say to my children, we are so lucky to be born in the same period, the period of the ninth King of the Chakri Dynasty.

Sasiwimon Boonruang is a feature writer of the Life section of the Bangkok Post.

Sasiwimon Boonruang

Writer for the Life section

Sasiwimon Boonruang is a writer for the Life section of the Bangkok Post.

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