PATTY IN THAILAND by Shearingly
Patty adjusted quickly. She had looked forward to this opportunity and was loving every minute of it. Patty was one of four American girls who had come over to study at the university in Bangkok. She had never met the other three before but they all seemed nice enough. They were met at the airport and taken right to the dorm – where they were given private rooms which was nice, even though they weren’t very large. There was a bathroom between the rooms so each girl shared with one other.
An orientation meeting was held in the office of the Dean of Women. The Dean (a man) had explained to the American girls about differences in culture and customs and warned them about some of the more obvious ways they could offend the Thai people. He especially warned them not to break any laws. The punishment was severe and everyone was treated alike whether a native or a visitor. That gave Patty a shiver, but it quickly passed as they went on to happier topics.
Everyone seemed so friendly. Patty hadn’t been back in her room five minutes when there was a knock on the door. She called out, “Come in.” The door opened to reveal a stunningly beautiful girl – delicate features, long silky black hair hanging loose below her waist. She was tiny but perfectly proportioned – a living doll. She smiled at Patty and introduced herself as “Seven.” She had a delightful British accent which she explained she picked up learning English in Hong Kong. When Patty asked her about the name, she explained that it was a nickname, her Thai name was too difficult for most foreigners to pronounce. She was the seventh daughter in her family so she ended up with the nickname, “Seven.”
Seven helped Patty unpack and soon the room was neat and her luggage taken to a storage room. They then went together (Seven explained that she had been asked to show Patty around the campus and help her in any way she could) to register for classes and get the books Patty would need.
Over the next few weeks Seven and Patty spent a lot of time together and grew to be good friends. They had a couple of classes together, one was a political science class taught by their only female professor. The prof was not an attractive woman and for some reason her hair was short and ragged. Patty wondered why she didn’t do something with it. But she was a captivating teacher and had (as far as whispers go) the reputation of being at odds with the government – a bit of a radical. That was the only class where all the American girls were together.
One weekend Seven took Patty to the market. They made quite a contrast, tiny Seven with her raven hair swishing around as she walked and Patty – a giant compared to Seven, but not really all that tall. Patty had beautiful thick golden blond hair which she wore straight and kept trimmed about six inches below her shoulders. She had pulled it back into a ponytail for the day and as she walked through the market her blond ponytail bobbing, she looked like the flame of a candle dancing in the currents of air. She also attracted a lot of attention (like moths to a flame), there weren’t very many beautiful blond girls walking around the marketplace.
The next weekend Patty was invited to go with Seven, to a tiny village outside of Bangkok, to meet her family. Patty was surprised when she first met Seven’s sisters. Patty didn’t like to call anyone ugly, but she could see no family resemblance between Seven and the five oldest sisters. One sister, only a year older looked a lot like her, though not as stunningly beautiful. The mystery was solved when Seven explained that her father’s first wife was the mother of the first five girls. After she died he married Seven’s mother. Actually he wasn’t even Seven’s father, but her step-father. She never knew her own father, he died when she was a baby. Patty sensed that Seven was close to her mother, but had a strained relationship to her step- father. She found out why a little later.
The first five sisters were several years older than Seven, married and had children. They all came over for dinner Saturday evening. Seven’s brother-in-laws were fascinated with Patty’s blond hair. They stared at her, making her uneasy and then they came and stood in a semi- circle behind her chair and ran their fingers through it. Patty looked at Seven who just smiled at her, nervously, and patted her hand, “Don’t say anything,” she whispered, “they won’t hurt you.”
After dinner the two friends had gone out into the beautiful little family garden. Seven’s oldest brother-in-law came out where they were and began talking to Seven in rapid Thai. Patty couldn’t understand a word he said. Seven stood up, meekly and faced him with her head bowed. He reached over and lifted up her tunic and plunged his hand down inside Seven’s slacks. Patty gasped, but Seven made a motion with her hand indicating that Patty was not to get involved. More words that Patty couldn’t understand and then he grabbed a fistful of Seven’s long hair and dragged her into the house. Patty didn’t know what to do with herself so she stayed in the garden. Seven’s next oldest sister came out (the one that looked like her) and in halting English explained that the brother-in-laws liked to torment Seven. “Why is that?” Patty asked. She found out it was because their wives hated Seven for her beauty. The step-father didn’t care, he had married Seven’s mother because she came from a wealthy family. He only wanted her money, and he especially didn’t want two more girls. His son-in-laws were permitted, even encouraged, to do whatever they wanted.
It was more than an hour before Seven came back to the garden. She was trying to put on a brave smile but she walked like she hurt all over. “What did they do to you?” Patty asked. Seven tried to say it was nothing, but Patty insisted. Finally it all came out. Every time she came home to visit her mother the brother-in-laws would come over and have their fun. They took off all her clothes and shaved off her body hair. They really had fun that day because Seven hadn’t been home for a few months and there was actually some growth to shave off. They did it just to humiliate her and because they hated her so. But she couldn’t just abandon her mother, so she came a few times each year.
When Patty asked why she was walking so stiffly she finally explained that she had fought them more than usual and they felt they had to teach her a lesson. “What did they do?” Patty asked.
“They bent me over a chair and gave me a caning,” Seven said quite matter-of-factly. “That isn’t the first time. Actually, they do it almost every time I come home, now. It’s part of their routine and they just look for some excuse.”
“Do you want to go back to school now?”
“No, they’ll go now that they’ve had their fun and I won’t see them again until the next time I come home.” Seven calmly said.
Patty wrapped her arms around Seven and cried. Seven ended up consoling Patty when Patty was more upset about it that she was. The rest of the weekend was uneventful and they went back to the university the next day.
In Patty’s room, the night they got back, she saw Seven wince when she sat down. “Seven, I have some ointment that I could rub on where they caned you. It would help you feel better. Seven tried to say no, but Patty was insistent, thinking it would help them both feel better (Patty would feel better if she was able to do something to help).
Seven lowered her trousers and laid across the bed. Patty gasped when she saw the condition of Seven’s bottom. It was raw and ugly. There were some thin strips where the skin had been broken and it hadn’t healed yet. Patty gently rubbed the ointment on her wounds. While doing so she saw several older, healed scars from past canings. It made her boil inside, but Seven accepted it as part of life.
They had another good cry and actually fell asleep in each other’s arms. They woke up early the next morning when one of the other American girls came walking in to borrow something from Patty. The girl didn’t care about what she saw, but there was a rule that the Thai girls were not supposed to spend the night in an American girl’s rooms. Seven threw her clothes on and dashed off to her own room to get ready for the day. The other American girl laughed about it at breakfast, telling some of the other girls and soon word got back to the Dean of Women. He sent a note to Patty saying that he wanted to see her in his office at two-thirty that afternoon.
Patty worried all day about what he would say or do. She stood rigidly in front of his desk while he gave her a stern lecture warning her that unfamiliarity with local customs would get her into serious trouble. He shouted, he ranted and raved, and when she was thoroughly cowed, he made her bend over, lower her pants and bare her bottom while he paddled her! She couldn’t believe it. Here she was an adult woman, a college student and he had paddled her! The hurt was minimal and was already fading, but the humiliation of it was worse!
Two weeks later Patty heard a shuffling sound outside her door, then muffled sobs. Finally, a tentative knock. When she pulled the door open a crack she didn’t see anyone at first. Then a noise made her look down – crumpled on the hallway floor was Seven. Patty threw the door open and half lifting, half dragging got Seven into her room. She was in bad shape. There was a thick, purpling bruise on her cheek. Her eyebrow was cut and when Patty touched Seven’s thigh she cried out. Further examination showed a huge bruise and knot on her thigh. Putting a comforting hand on Seven’s hand, Patty felt something sticky. Thinking it was blood she looked at her hand, but it wasn’t dark. She smelled it – it was beer! Patty went into her bathroom, locked the adjoining door and ran a tub full of water. She gently took Seven’s clothes off and helped her into the tub. After she soaked for a long time (Patty emptied out cold water and refilled the tub with hot water three times) she said she felt better. Patty took her to the sink and lovingly gathered up Seven’s long hair wetted it in the basin, lathered it up with shampoo and rinsed it off. She did that three times before she thought it would be clean enough.
Patty put one of her white terry cloth robes on Seven, sat her in the desk chair and worked at drying off her hair and combing it out. The black of her hair made a vivid contrast with the white robe. Finally her hair was dry and neatly combed, looking soft and shiny once again. Seven told Patty that she had been called home and when she got there the brother-in-laws were waiting. They roughed her up, dumped beer all over her head and then left her in her pain. She made her way back to the school knowing she’d get no sympathy at home. Remembering what happened last time she’d spent the night in her room, Patty helped Seven back to her own room and tucked her into bed. A few days later the bruises were fading and she looked more like her normal self.
About that time their political science professor started giving an analysis of the status of women in Thailand. Patty listened intently – what she was hearing matched what she had seen in her association with Seven. She thought of all the freedoms and privileges in America – mostly taken for granted. She knew that women didn’t deserve to be treated like possessions or like animals. The more she thought about it, the angrier she got. With only one week to go in the semester, the professor mentioned that on Friday evening there would be a peaceful demonstration against the government. It was for two reasons – demanding a democratic form of government and demanding more rights for women. By this time she had the full sympathy and support of the four American women (Patty included) and they all signed up to attend. They would carry signs, march and protest, doing their part to help downtrodden women.
The first hour or two of the march was uneventful. It seemed like a picnic atmosphere with all the ladies smiling and having fun. Then, right in front of the main government building there was a scuffle. Patty didn’t see how it got started and it all happened so quickly. She heard shouts right near her and turned to look. A bunch of policemen in riot gear were bearing down on the group of women including Patty and the other Americans. She turned to the other Americans and said, “Run.” They started to run – right into a line of policemen. They were arrested on the spot for inciting a riot and disturbing the peace. There were twelve Thai women also arrested, Seven was one of them. In fact, Seven was one of the ones involved in the scuffle. Patty later found out that it was her brother-in-laws who had grabbed Seven and another girl and started to manhandle them. The other women gathered around and were punching and beating at them while screaming. That was what attracted the attention of the police to begin with. In this situation the police just rounded up a bunch of the nearest people and arrested them – that included Patty and the other American girls.
The Americans spent a miserable night in jail – they had no visitors, no lawyer came, and they were not permitted a phone call. They were told that they would see the judge the next morning. When morning came (none had slept well at all) someone brought clothes from their dorm rooms and they were allowed to shower and dress for court. The “trial” was a farce. A lawyer was appointed but he was an incompetent fool. He did nothing that was helpful and they were all (including the Americans) convicted of disturbing the peace and resisting arrest. The sentence was pronounced, but Patty couldn’t understand what was said. The sixteen women were led off as a group back to jail.
Patty found out that they would be taken to a large women’s prison facility to serve out their sentence (she still didn’t know how long that would be). After another sleepless night they were herded into a bus for their trip. She managed to sit by Seven and they whispered together as they traveled. She discovered that she had been sentenced to five years of imprisonment. She cried for a long time when she heard that. She couldn’t help but feel that Seven was holding something back and not telling her the whole story. It took several hours of riding on bumpy, dusty roads before they pulled up to a gate set in a tall, sturdy fence. She was amazed to see a large number of cars ahead of and behind the bus, all going to the same place.
The sixteen girls were taken to a “holding area” where they sat on hard benches and waited. They were allowed to use a restroom and (for some reason) told to fix their hair and makeup to make themselves “pretty.” They were taken out in groups of four – three Thais and an American. They could hear nothing except what occasionally sounded like the roar of a crowd. Patty was in the last group to be taken along with Seven and two other Thai women (Patty felt they were the three prettiest Thais in the group). The guards pulled them along a passageway. Patty wondered what was coming. They were pushed through an opening into an arena. It reminded Patty of the one time when as a little girl she’d accompanied her uncle to a livestock auction. There was a circular floor and then seats rising high all around. The seats were filled with well-dressed men and women. Seven whispered that the crowd had come all the way from Bangkok (that explained all the cars) and that they had paid to watch the proceedings.
Patty and the two other Thais were handcuffed to seats along the side wall. Seven was dragged out to a little platform in the center of the arena. While Patty watched with disbelieving eyes her clothes were torn from her body until Seven stood before the crowd absolutely naked. She tried to cover herself and retain some dignity, but her hands were yanked behind her and twisted painfully. A man stood up and started the bidding – it was like the livestock auction.
The bidding stopped and two men stepped out of the crowd. They handed a fistful of money to the one who led the bidding. Patty recognized them – they were Seven’s brother-in-laws! She wondered if they might have been behind this whole thing! Seven was forced to kneel on a small stool. The successful bidders stood on either side of Seven and parted her hair right down the middle of her head, then lifted up her silky long, raven-black hair. With a great show, they held it painfully taut and then placed scissors next to her scalp and closed the shears. It had grown so quiet that everyone could hear the harsh snick of the scissors closing on Seven’s glorious hair. The two worked in unison, denuding the sides of her head. Lifting up a lock of hair and snipping it off before setting it in a box at their feet. Slowly and methodically they worked their way from her temples to the center of her head and then from front to back. Snip, snip, snip. The crowd watched quietly, occasionally erupting in a cheer for a particularly dramatic flourish of the haircutters.
When all that was left was a dark stubble, they pulled out straight razors and without any shaving cream or lubrication of any kind, they scraped at her scalp. Patty shivered, thinking how that must hurt. The black hair left a shadow on her scalp even when they had scraped it as smooth as they possibly could.
There was more bidding, over the weeping, shamed, humiliated, demoralized Seven. It was another brother-in-law who stepped out of the crowd and handed over a bunch of money. This time, Seven was strapped, in a bent over position, to a wooden frame with her back exposed to the crowd. The brother-in-law took a bamboo cane and proceeded with the most brutal display Patty had ever seen. He beat Seven until she fainted. She was revived and then he beat her some more. Her back and bottom and legs were raw and bloody before he was done. Seven was carried off, limp and unconcious.
The other two Thai’s met a similar fate, though the bidding wasn’t as lively and was done more quickly. Patty felt a growing sense of dread. Finally she was the only one left in the arena and the guards were coming for her! They unlocked the handcuffs and lifted her to her feet. She staggered, too weak to stand on her own. As the guards dragged her to the center of the arena, the crowd came alive. They began whistling and hooting, shouting and hollering. The guards, with obvious relish, tore her blouse off, tossing it to the closest spectators. They unhooked her bra and yanked it off. Patty tried to cover her breasts, but her arms were pulled away. She felt exposed and defenseless. There was no where to run or hide. A thousand eyes were all focused on her absolute helplessness!
She was further mortified to feel a wetness spreading between her legs and the trickle of urine down her legs. When the guards realized what she had done, they laughed and pointed, calling everyone’s attention to her incontinence. The guards finished stripping her with a flourish and finally she stood before the crowd, totally naked. She heard, as though from a great distance away, the bidding begin. It was lively and went on for some time. Finally the gavel was struck and the bidding ceased. Two men climbed out of the stands. Patty was horrified when she realized that these were more of Seven’s brother-in-laws!
Patty was pushed into a kneeling position on the footstool and the men stood on either side of her and played with her lovely blond hair. They ran their fingers through and taunted her, calling out insults to the crowd that she didn’t understand but they made the crowd laugh. They worked together just like the two did with Seven parting her hair down the middle. Scissors closed in unison on both sides of her head, severing Patty’s lovely blond tresses. The silky soft strands drifted down her naked flesh tickling and teasing her with the realization that she wouldn’t feel hair like this for many months to come. When they finished with the scissors her head was left in a mangy condition with clumps of hair and tufts interspersed with bald spots where they scissors cut right to the scalp. It was awful. But then, they produced straight razors and, once again, with no shaving cream at all, they scraped away. It felt, to Patty, like her head was being skinned alive. She knew it would hurt for days. As bad as this was, she really didn’t want it to end, because she knew what was coming would be far worse.
Eventually the men gathered up the severed hair and went back to their seats. The bidding started again. After a long time a man emerged from the crowd – Seven’s father – with a twisted sneer. He leaned over and whispered cruelly, “You thought you could corrupt my daughter. I’ll teach you to come to our country and interfere with our customs.” He picked up the bamboo cane and swung it through the air, making it whistle loudly. While they were dragging her to the whipping frame, she fainted.
Please e-mail your comments to: [email protected]