Reading Short Story 3                 

What a Beauty!: 2  





English Translation:

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..................... 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. Phaengkham’s 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. Couldn’t 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 didn’t 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 didn’t 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’s a good thing I haven’t 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.


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