Grief, not joy, for some on Mothers Day
While most Thais celebrated with loved ones yesterday, Muhammad Ayub Pathan reports on how some families have been torn apart by violence in the South
Yesterday was Mothers Day, but nine-year-old Suhimee Dolah could not even hug his mum.
The young boy has been in the intensive care unit of Yala hospital for the past five months and relies on a respirator and aspiration unit to remove phlegm and breathe properly.
Suhimee is one of seven children who were injured by a bomb explosion in Tabingtingngo village, Bannang Sata district of Yala on March 17.
Police say the explosive was hidden in a motorcycle which was left parked in the village.
While the bomb targeted a military unit, it also damaged a nearby house and injured the youngsters who were watching television together there.
A soldier and seven children were seriously hurt, including Suhimee and two of his brothers, Bukoree, five, and seven-year-old Mahrobee.
Suhimee suffered the most. The shrapnel sliced into his neck and back and cut nerves near his spinal cord.
He can no longer move his arms or legs. Doctors recently told his mother, Angkhana Wateh, that her son's paralysis is incurable. He is permanently disabled.
"He wants to go to school. He asks me every day when he will go to school again," said Mrs Angkhana, her voice trembling.
"What should I say? How can I tell him?"
The other two sons injured in the bombing attack recovered and were discharged from the hospital, but Mrs Angkhana returns there every day to look after Suhimee.
She said her family would like to take the boy home, but it was impossible because he relies on expensive life support equipment which the family cannot afford to buy.
Since Suhimee was hospitalised, Mrs Angkhana has quit her job to look after her son. Her husband is now the sole breadwinner for the family.
Forget about costly medical equipment, just having enough money to feed the whole family each day is all they can look forward to.
"Suhimee asked me who will take care of him if I die. I told him that his father will look after him," Mrs Angkhana said.
"Then he asked what if his father dies too, and I said he would go to stay with his grandmother."
This conversation reflects the fear which resides in the minds of so many people in the restive South. They think a lot about death - and preparing themselves for the possible loss of their loved ones. This is not surprising, with insurgent violence occurring almost daily over the past four years and more than 3,000 people having been killed.
"What I pray for on Mother's Day is just that my son will recover and have a new life, and that he doesn't become permanently disabled as the doctors predict," said Mrs Angkhana.
"He is so young and should grow up to be a good person."
Mrs Angkhana is not the only mother who had to spend Mother's Day without a hug from her child.
Many women in these southern border provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat mark this special occasion with tears, as they remember sons and daughters lost in the brutality that has become their daily life.
Not for them the happy time other mothers spend with their children on this special day.
Sadly, it not only the mothers who suffer. Many sons and daughters are without their mothers, also innocent victims of the violence.
They are denied the opportunity of telling their mothers how much they love and need them.
"I would like insurgents in the southernmost provinces to know just what it is like to lose a member of their family," Mrs Angkhana said.
She also wishes she had enough money to buy the respirator and suction unit so that she can take care of her boy at home.
Donations for Suhimee's medical equipment can be made at Yala hospital. Call 073-244711.
Wednesday August 13, 2008