Breathing Space

It is my second night on Koh Si Chang and I have sighted the gecko clinging to the side of the palm trunk again. Earlier, I tried for a photo. I moved he disappeared. I am privileged now; regally his long tail arches over him a branching crown a princely canopy. Who is he bowing to, what is he waiting for?

My early evening, like my day has been, is lazily hot and tourist indulgent. I am sipping rose wine and reluctantly thinking a much needed shower. In the pavement bar across the road the sound of local men socialising provides welcome distraction. Island dogs, dodging or chasing passing motorbikes bark a backbeat rhythm. Tropical birds, hidden in exotic leafy flora chirp thrilled, melodic overtunes. This unfamiliar symphony, one I want to learn the words to, is capturing me. Show-stoppingly, an ancient surprise main act throws back modern island curtains to take centre stage.

Chanting; I hear chanting.

This afternoon several orange robed monks whizzed up the road in Tuk-Tuks; these models, roaring Harley Davidson bodies with fragile metal carriers on their back are long banished from the mainland because they are deemed too dangerous yet here they play trusted carriages to driven, humble men. The chanting being broadcast over the islands Tannoy system is persisting. Relaxing back into my plastic terrace chair my eyes slowly close, grant me license to keep listening.

Recalling welcome advice given by a barefoot guide as I clambered slippery jungle pathway to reach a hidden waterfall I breathe in and I breathe out. Now I am back on a guarded beach being handed a paper by a smiling Thai Police Officer for wearing ‘two pieces’ on Kings land. “I sorry” he apologises, “I have no power…”

With the chanting drawing me deeper I continue to breathe.

I am one of only three Ferangs on this island, the other two being my daughter and her friend. I realise I am no longer frightened and I feel like a celebrity. The chanting continues; is this island being hypnotised?

Acknowledging my liberty I inhale spiced tranquillity. Aware of peripheral sounds dissipating I start moving closer, so much more than my ordinary life allows to, myself. I am breathing in and breathing out again. Creatively I am changing I can feel it but have no idea how. I feel myself drifting. I wonder, is it wine? As suddenly as it started so the chanting stops. Behind me, a loud crack happens. Dazed, I open my eyes timidly starting to reconnect.

A crocodile sized lizard scuttles from underneath my bungalow. I look first to him then to the gecko. The men resume laughing the dogs reopen barking and the birds restart chirping. The gecko shimmers before becoming invisible. The giant one is gone, found himself new sanctuary.

Recalling prophetic words of a dutiful warden I shake myself back from wonderment to ponder on a power unknown. Awestruck by the moment I breathe in and I breathe out again. The birds really had stopped chirping, the dogs truly had stopped barking. With everything to gain I choose my time to readjust.

In my heart I feel a magical pass. I vow, ask opportunity to share it one day.

Sally Hewitt

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