..................... Then came
OhnAnong, whose sharp nose and arched eyebrows so befitted the star
of a dance floor. As well as being lovely, these girls also sported
beautiful names. Their names were so lengthy, sophisticated, and pleasing to the ear, yet very different from the common Lao names. Phaengkhams name was
short, simple and easy to remember.
And as for Phaengkham, not only
did she have no garland to show, but no one had offered to dance with her, not even once. She was soon the target of gossip and ridicule,
the clown of the night. Laddapone would look at Sohnnapa, then smile
while turning to glance at Phaengkham as if to say, "Poor
Phaengkham. No dance for her again this round." Or Ohn-Anong
might whisper mockingly, "Poor Phaengkham. She has to go on slapping at mosquitoes as usual. These men are so completely hardhearted. Couldnt they
at least offer her one dance . . . just enough
to stretch her limbs?
It could be said . . . that
Phaengkham was not as beautiful as the others. Nor did she dress in the latest style. She didnt know how to dance in the
modern way. She was not outgoing and popular in social situations.
She was quiet and humble. A daughter from a rather poor family, she
helped her mother sell kanomkok3 and look after her six siblings. Her
father was a carpenter. The family status didnt have a lot of
money, and there was never enough to buy new and beautiful clothes.
But the other girls, especially those whose names have been
mentioned, were the daughters and nieces of rich and influential
men. They had money to spend. New blouses and pants were made for
them almost every month, as if they were going to wear them once or twice and discard them without a second thought. But Phaengkham could afford a new
blouse only once a year or once every two years. She had to wear the
same clothes over and over again. Among these beauties, Phaengkham
certainly looked pitiful. And since no man was interested in dancing
with her, she was left alone in the lamvong stand to feel sorry and awkward.
"Well ...its a good
thing I havent been called up to stand in the middle of the floor for everyone to scrutinize me as if I were some kind of
merchandise," she comforted herself.