[Movie] "Pee Mak", a ghostly Thai tale of love, and a local shrine dedicated to the tragic girl

“MYOB!” When Nak, the ghost wife of the boy replied to his scared soldier friends with this acronym of “Mind Your Own Business” to express her madness at them sticking their noses into her love affairs, I cracked up, couldn’t help but marveling at the genius work of the caption translator. “MYOB” casts a period of silence in the movie’s usual chaotic rhythm, which is bombarded with the four soldier friends’ mocking, ranting, chiding and screaming, vacillating in their perceptions of “Really, who is the ghost?” and thus, behaving in erratic fashions when new signs arose that pointed other directions.

What they did not know is that, their beloved friend Pee Mak had already made his decision: to live with Nak despite knowing she’s a ghost. Nak: But you are scared of ghost. Mak: Yes, but I’m more scared of living a life without you. By loving someone you are giving her your sense of belonging: napping on her lap as if you were a baby to his mother; and if she’s gone, you give up the beauty of life because there is no one to share the joy with. What is “Love”? -“You and me, against the world.” If the four friends knew that, they wouldn’t be meddling in their business and making a farce out of a romantic story, even when they pride themselves as Pee Mak’s best friends or his saviors from the atrocity of war. This decision Mak made long ago moved me to tears. It’s like he has an innate affinity to Nak, who provides him the security as if a sturdy pine tree to a lark.

Tang poet Li Bai said, “The ones alive are like passersby. Those dead have already returned home.”* So what is there to fear about death? Nothing, really. If you take away the unpredictability and the mystical part about dying, it’s simply a process of the consciousness leaving the body and the chemical form returning to its original compositions, back at Earth.

By the way, if you travel to Bangkok, you can check out the actual shrine dedicated to Nak: The Mae Nak Phra Khanong Shrine or “Mae Nak Shrine” in short. It’s not far from the airport and has a large number of visitors. Historically, the girl named Nak was slighted and mistreated by people when alive, but after death she became a figure so respected and looked up upon. How sad! Why didn’t people appreciate her beauty when she was alive? Why did they, instead of caring for her, spread rumors and act cruelly towards her and her unborn baby, and eventually lead to her death? Only after she became a ghost and exercised her supernatural ability did people repented and turned themselves into her worshipers. This prompted me to ask, is humanity’s nature that of “dreading the powerful and bullying the weak?” ** If so, I’d rather be a ghost.

I’m more scared of living a life without you.

*: 生者如过客,死者为归人 (李白)
**: 恃强凌弱