Welcome to JP Melville's review, experience, and statement on foreign aid and the international development industry. A conservative faith in family. A love affair riding the riotous tensions between money, personal freedom, the majestic travesty of our specie's ecological footprint, and economic politics. Selected writing of both prose and poetry, anecdotal travel log to rhetorical essay, dating back from the 1980's to the present. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Christmas in Self-Appointed Exile

 The sun set over Thailand.  The air was warm, liquid, bathing me, calming my spirit seeming lost in a strange land.  The seeming I think because I wanted to identify myself with familiar surroundings.  I had been battling with this desire for several days.  Longer really.  It wa a test.  For I believed that the spirit lives here.  With me, among me, and in me.
Sure, I was thinking of home.  Thinking of friends, of family.  I saw the snow in my mind's eye.  I could feel the cold on my skin and the warmth of the clothes I did not wear.  There was also the warmth of the homes and people's smiles.  There was the food and the colours and the lights, the wine and the excitement.  I wanted to taste the wines and the sweet breads.  I wanted to hear the voices discussing the children and laughing with old friends.  I wanted to rub the cold out of my cheeks as I stepped into the house.  I wanted to bundle myself up in a coat and scarf to go visit the neighbours.  I wanted to see the fire dancing in the wood stove.  I wanted to see moonlight dancing in the snow.  I wanted to see the stars sparkle.  I wanted to see the magic of the blues and greens and yellows and reds of the Christmas tree lights.
The United States army invaded Panama that day.  I watered the young trees around the house.  I got a sunburn, too.  I tuned up my motorcycle and adjusted the exhaust valve.  I went to Ladree's place and helped her plant squash.  This meant hoeing, sprinkling fertilizer in the holes where the seeds were planted, then planting the seeds.  All by hand.  Dusty, hot, and dry.  Then Ladree and I ate rice together.  Something didn't make sense when I heard the global news, when one of the American soldiers in Panama said, "We are the soldiers of the little people," and this was heard around the world on radio.
Christmas came with a little soft brown lizard darting back and forth on the wall searching for insects.  Christmas with classical Thai music drifting across the rice fields, coming from the temple only several hundred yards distant.  Christmas with a large brass bowl filled with drinking water, clear and sweet.  Christmas with cigarettes, matches, and a small collection of poetry called Names of God.  Christmas with a wooden floor, a single bare electric bulb, and the walls covered with tapestries of dragons and wild beasts from the forests.  Christmas with five large envelopes stuffed with letters from home.
Christmas in exile?
Christmas with my heart both at home and there, wishing the best for everyone and holding them all in my open arms, giving my love as frail, poor, simple, and far away as it was, but giving all the same.

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