‘Mango Rains’ – A hot topic at the Book Group

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The Pattaya Book Group met for their monthly meeting on September 29 at Christiane Broukaert’s home, which drew the members first not to the coffee table but to a grand tour around her lovely house.

After the “wow!” and “Beautiful home!” and “How do you even maintain it?” session, the members resumed the important discussion of the month, “Mango Rains”, written by Daniel M Dorothy, the chief editor of Pattaya Mail, who spent many a year following this true story, told by a Thai girl, Lek, about her own life and her mother’s 20 year quest to find her.

Pattaya Book Group members pose with copies of Daniel M Dorothy’s “Mango Rains’ at their monthly meeting on September 29.Pattaya Book Group members pose with copies of Daniel M Dorothy’s “Mango Rains’ at their monthly meeting on September 29.

It’s the tale of a mother, Nid, who at only 12, was ‘sold’ by her mother to become a maid to a rich family but ended up forced to work as a prostitute, getting pregnant at fifteen and thrown out into the streets, with no money and a unborn baby.

Shortly after giving birth, she went back to work in the bars to support her sick baby but made one wrong decision by giving her child to a friend, believing that her friend’s mother in the northeast would take care of the infant.

As it turned out the child, Lek, was sold to become a baby beggar on the busy Bangkok bar streets, then abducted and placed in an orphanage in Pattaya.  But Lek’s own adventures and hardships had only just begun.

Meanwhile her mother Nid dedicated the next 20 years of her life to looking for her missing baby- teenager- and later young woman.  Every glimpse of progress as she found a tantalizing trace of her child seemed to fade away with twists and turns of bad luck and misfortune.

Both mother and child also faced a separate fight for their own survival, with no money, no protection, and with only one asset to sell, their bodies.  Both rose to find their own destinies and success, while internally always longing for a family they never had.

The book generated a lot of discussion among book group members, with debates about poverty, social inequality, hopelessness, opportunism and lost opportunities, money, fate, perseverance and courage in the face of adversity, and of course the oldest profession in history, prostitution.

One member, Silvia Muda, summed up the group’s general consensus: “Mango Rains is a story of survival of two adolescent girls.  Both found themselves in different circumstances, but both passed through similar hardships of prostitution, the old cycle of power, poverty, money, and survival.

“Mango Rains makes us look at things under a different light and focus on the slim side of Thai society, and in doing so it helps us to understand and accept without judgment aspects of a culture that in many ways is far different from our western point of view.”

After the heavy discussion, of course it was time for a soulful potluck lunch that was so wholeheartedly prepared by the members.