It is said that Dr. Sastra Chaothiang, a researcher at the National Science and Technology Development Agency who was among the nine passengers of a van killed in the last week accident, was an exceptional and talented individual. He specialised in protein engineering, a discipline in which not many Thais are well-versed. His mother gave a poignant interview on Thai television some days ago. The details of the talk were posted on the internet as follows:
– Dr Sastra is in fact her great-grandchild. His parents separated. For some reason they gave him to her to bring up.
– When he was a small boy, the Doctor would often go on a bicycle with her in order to help selling jasmine garlands. The basket in front of the bike was always filled with study books. And when he chanced upon a teacher, he would ask a few questions from the books that he did not understand.
– At junior high school, he had a 10 baht daily budget. Often when he returned from school, he would request another 3 baht from her to buy a dessert made from Chinese chives. Then he would go on helping her selling jasmine garlands until dusk. When they returned, the Doctor would frequently eat chub mackerel and hot shrimp-paste sauce for dinner. It was his favourite dish.
– After passing an exam to win a seat at a senior high school at Triam Udom Suksa School, she wanted to take him to the school in a taxi on enrolment day, but the Doctor suggested that the two of them should take a bus instead as the taxi was too expensive.
– Once when she visited him at the school, she bought a drink from a 7-11 minimart for him – at that time it was 12 baht. The Doctor told her that he had never tried it before since it was expensive.
– Later on he managed to pass the entrance exam for a place at a well-known medical school in Thailand, but decided to forsake that opportunity, telling her that instead he wanted to be an academic. He then went on to win a scholarship to study in the UK.
– After he had finished his 10 years study in the UK, he went back to work and support the family in Thailand. He had just begun to finance his young sibling’s education at Silpakorn University about 6 months before he was killed in the accident.
– He told her that he did not want a car. He did not mind taking a van to work. It would be a burden to buy a car, so he decided to save the money and buy land for her to build a house on.
– A lot of people asked her if she ever tired of selling garlands since she was elderly and quite well-built. Her response was that she was not tired at all. My son was an intelligent and good man. “Although I am poor, I have a clever son.”
– The interviewer asked her how she managed to bring up such a brilliant and good son. She said that it was in his nature to be like that. She did not have to do anything much.
– Lastly, the interviewer asked her if there was anything further she wanted to add. And she said “she wanted him back.”
I very much wanted to write about the others who died in the accident too. Unfortunately, at the moment there are few details about them. All I can do is to wish these innocent victims rest in peace.