I imagine that every long trip has a low point. It has been now almost 5 months and a half since I left my life in England. It has been almost eleven years that I left Brasil to go study abroad. The lowest point in my journey happened last night. After being sick for so long, my existentialism was reaching unprecedented levels. I felt abandoned by all those that I once trusted, i felt I wanted to abandon myself. Why is it again that we live for?
As I cannot manage to reach any of the people who know me from within I decide that this is it I must just practice vipassana. I must just accept to bear all the pain on my own. There is angst and tension in the air that seems to be not only mine. Like a sponge I am sucking it all in. I had been for the whole day.
In England Julian, my friend and Mut Mee owner, is in Hospital with Ben, his son, awaiting for yet another heart surgery. Since Ben is little he has been struggling through this. Roxanna who works in the Gaia, the floating bar in the raft in the Mekong in front of us, passes by me incredibly shaken.
I am on the phone dealing with my own feelings, my own regrets. I am so absorbed by my pain that I see hers but do not hang up. She goes away. I seat in the stairs that lead us to the raft. Then I hear my new friend from Albania anxious about all that she can not really know because is far. Feeling entirely helpless I go to bed.
I fall asleep and suddenly I am awaken by noises. I am a bit confused but I have the feeling someone is knocking next door in Melissa’s room. Melissa, a new yorker who used to work for the UN, had left her life and came to Asia to study yoga. Although her room is technically in my house it has a door that goes outside. She has no way to reach the inside of the house as the door that goes to the communal area is locked. It was a temporary thing because since she came to Mut Mee on a day we had no rooms we arranged that room for her. Keeping the door locked was a way of ensuring my privacy.
Mut Mee spreads in front of the Mekong. It has beautiful bungalows, mixed with new buildings, a beautiful garden, little soys ( streets) and it is always entirely open. My house faces the Mekong. I have a balcony that leads to a bank that is filled with grass, bamboos going down to the river. I enter the house through the side door. I almost never close neither the door to my room, nor the Verandah door.
That is why when I hear someone knocking in Melissa’s door I can hear as if it is on my own. I am confused but go back to sleep. Suddenly I am awaken by someone opening my window, and then slamming it. i get shocked but again imagine it to be a friend of Melissa. I fall asleep probably for seconds and suddenly hear Melissa scream. She screams from the top of her lungs ” get the fuck out of here.”
Now I am paranoid. I am convinced it is a man. I am terrified. What could I do? i hear noises and then someone opens my window. I decide to be totally silent. I remember all my doors being open. i want to go check on Melissa but am terrified to do so. I do not want to speak because if someone was inside all that protected me was the fact that they did not know I was there.
I feel charges of adrenalin inside of me. All I can do within my ability is to call for help. All I can do is to actually text for help. All the men I know in Mut Mee are gone. Rob who works in reception lives in another village. i text him. It is 3 and a half am. I call so that even though I cant speak he would be able to see the messages. A lady picks up. I feel defeated I probably have the wrong number. I text Roxanna so she could call for help. She texts me back telling me the reason she was shaken earlier was because a Thai guy had ambushed her and wanted to have sex. Reading her message I am more terrified than ever.
I text Europe America.. All the people I trust to make the call I could not make. It is a 40 minutes of terror when I suddenly hear a motorbike coming. i hear someone calling out my name.
It is him. i have never been so happy to see a man. I scream to Melissa. ” are you OK? She is. Rob calls Roxanna who is terrified alone in the raft without credit on her phone. He goes get her.
Melissa is calm she explains that the man had tried to break in and crawl through her window. He clearly wanted to rape her. When she shouted he open my window and then left. Nothing had happened but the tension we were in, both me and Roxanna, for the lack of knowledge and what our mind allowed us to create had us both in tears.
Melissa told us that she kept looking for a weapon but she had none. I was astonished. Fighting the man never crossed my mind. I don’t know if it is because I am too coward, too pacifist or simply because i was not face to face with him. All I could think about was to contact people. People who could come from outside.
But as the sun rose and the three of us had waken up things looked brighter. Yes it was awful. Yes I had never felt so vulnerable. Retrospectively, however, I realise that all my existentialism vanished. I who knew not why we live for did not want to die. I did not want anything to happen to Melissa or anyone. I wanted to help her, Roxanna and I. As the son rose I realised that I was not alone, I was just a bit unprepared. I needed more numbers of people who live here. I needed to learn to lock my doors at night. I needed to never let my imagination run wild. Melissa who confronted the man was way calmer than both of us who imagined him, who imagined what he could do. Imagination practically paralysed us.
I kept remember Suu Kyi’ s words “When you are feeling helpless, help someone”.
The lowest point taught me valuable lessons. It taught me I should have helped more. But that as usual within the limits of our own incapacities I did what I know best. I reached for people. As I am thinking about that Yong, who works in the kitchen, having heard the story seats next to me.
” Take my number. You call I come.”
The lowest point reminds me that we must never let the evilness of one undermine our love and faith of the vast majority of people. That is how I know this is the lowest point. It is not as some of my friends suggested time to pack and go home. It is time to start going up.
Lots of love, Me