A ‘Peasant Comrade’ Who Became a Medical Student Under the Communist Party of Thailand

Recorded by Anon Chawalawan

This is a story about a girl’s dream of education beyond Grade 4 becoming reality in a completely unexpected way.

Caught in the tug-of-war that was the civil war between the Thai state and the Communist Party of Thailand (CPT), she left her home community for the jungle at the age of sixteen. In the context of this civil war in the 1970s, to enter the jungle (khao pa) meant joining the so-called ‘communist terrorists’ according to the Thai state. Like the predominant storyline of ‘student comrades’ fleeing rightist violence for the jungle, Comrade Khwan, a code name of Ms. Buppha (who asked that her last name be withheld), was likewise pushed into the jungle by the lack of safety, although she fled several years before and returned several years after most of them.

Where this story dissents from the predominant storyline is the value placed on education received in the communist world. Rather than cookie-cutter, stifling, or ultimately useless, Comrade Khwan’s education was a crucible of character that allowed her to be of use. Being chosen to be a student as a ‘peasant comrade’ was instrumental for her life afterward as well, as evidenced by her adoption of ‘Khwan’ as her nickname to this day.

Childhood in the Red Zone

I came from a big, relatively well-to-do family. My dad’s side was a wealthy family in Phatthalung province, from the Chiak Mountain area in Mueang Phatthalung district. That mountain was one of the first areas in the province that the CPT infiltrated. There was someone on my mom’s side who was a high-ranking official, a than khun—you could say her family belonged to the old sakdina (feudal lord) class.

My dad was a farmer. He was a risk-taker and a hard-worker. When dad married mom, he was the first in-law of the family. Because of his industrious character, he was loved by Grandma’s family.

Dad and Mom had ten kids. I’m the third one and the only girl; the rest were boys. My youngest brother was born in the jungle. When we were kids, the boys would roughhouse the way boys do, dueling with sticks for example. When they were a bit more grown they’d smoke like a chimney. Having been raised around only boys, I almost became one myself. Fortunately I left for the jungle before that could happen.

My hometown was rife with bandits. Not only did the government officials, that is, civil servants whom the villagers called nai or ‘masters,’ not help villagers in the area; sometimes they also oppressed the villagers, refused to treat them fairly, or sometimes were in cahoots with the bandits. This left people feeling helpless.

As locals were running into problems with both the bandits and the officials, a relative from Chiak Mountain moved in with us. He helped with clearing the forest, with fruit and rice farming, and then he introduced Dad to Peking Radio, which they listened to every evening. Then, strangers from elsewhere began making visits to the house, which put the officials on alert. They began following and harassing Dad to the point where he didn’t dare sleep at home. Many nights he had to sleep in the woods. The local situation intensified until 1964 when Dad decided to leave for the jungle permanently. I remember that before leaving, he had been a Dark Arts aficionado with magic-warding cloths and amulets, but when he made the decision to join, he left everything behind.

Once Dad left for the jungle permanently, the government began harassing and pressuring people at home, trying to force secrets out of my mom, asking, Do you know where he’s gone? Are you in contact? There were times they brought men to blockade the house. The officials knew that Dad was a lead organizer in conscientizing people to join the CPT alongside other leaders from Chiak Mountain and from other provinces; that’s why they were afraid that he’d pull locals into the ranks or into CPT spies. Then, in 1969, when there was a casting of votes for representatives, my mom and my eldest brother, along with some neighbors, followed in Dad’s footsteps out of fear of danger. There were reports that women whose husbands went to the jungle were arrested or killed just like men were. I believe that actually, Mom was likely worried about the ones left at home, but thought that if only old folks and very young kids were left then the military wouldn’t dare. If, on the other hand, she stayed at home, there might be danger. Thus her decision to leave. After she joined the jungle in 1969, in 1971 my second oldest brother decided to follow.

Towards the end of 1971, there began the Red Barrel cases, where the military arrested locals suspected of involvement with the CPT, killed them, and burned their bodies in red oil barrels. So, the situation in the community became more tense. I myself decided to leave for the jungle in 1972 at the age of about sixteen. I made that decision because I saw the example of a cousin of mine who disappeared even before reaching the age of twenty. And I had a father who was a leader at the local level, so I definitely would not survive if I stayed on the outside.

Development in the mountains

When I left for the jungle, I went with one younger brother, the fourth one. I remember that I was sobbing as I left because the rest of my brothers were still too young to cook for themselves. But I had to make the decision by then, since otherwise I might not have survived to now.

Quite a lot of people from my village left at the same time that I did. The situation was tense; a number of locals feared that they were going to get ‘got’ by the military unless they left for the jungle first. At first I stayed with Mom and Dad in the Phatthalung Work District. Then I was moved to District Two Camp, which was in the border area between three provinces: Phatthalung, Trang, and Satun.

Traveling from District Four Camp to District Two Camp wasn’t easy at all. It took us about half a month, trekking along Banthat Mountain. We only traveled during the day. At sundown we’d settle down to sleep; at sunrise, make rice, eat, and continue the trek. It was an old growth forest we passed through. Slugs were everywhere. I was too scared of slugs to touch them, so I had to ask a comrade—a jungle soldier who was leading us to camp—to pick them off for me.

The day I arrived was very heartwarming for me. Even as I knew that the road ahead was going to be difficult, the sight of comrades lining up to give us a warm welcome made me feel the love and the fellowship among comrades who despite differing backgrounds were united here with the same purpose.

After settling in District Two Camp, I had to become acquainted with a new world. I had to learn about the political situation according to the party, youth life-view (chiwathat), revolutionary role models from China, also the Thought of Mao Zedong. What I learned was instrumental in my becoming confident, strong, patient, and unafraid of hardship. Apart from politics, I had to learn to be a soldier too, by practicing fighting postures like rolling, ducking, crawling. But there was a lack of weapons at the time, so new soldiers like me wouldn’t get to practice with guns, having to make do with wooden sticks. Only later did I get to practice with real guns and learn about gun care.

Living in the jungle wasn’t easy. Had to hike over hill and dale to do tasks I was assigned. And there wasn’t enough food to go around. Sometimes I only had boiled rice with nam khoey (krill sauce) to eat. I didn’t mind the hardship, though. I did it all in good fun, and took pride in doing something of great importance. Jungle soldiers were a very disciplined bunch: there were rules and models of behavior and schedules that clearly spelled out what to do each day, from military drills, classes, political news listening and group discussion. This made us more confident in speaking and expressing ourselves.

Each person in the jungle was assigned different tasks, and one must do what was asked of them whether one liked it or not, since it was inculcated in us that if the Party wished us to do something, we must abide by it. When I first joined I wanted to work as a seamstress, but I was entrusted by the Party to study medicine in order to be a doctor. As it was the Party’s wishes, I was happy to oblige.

I just turned eighteen when I began my medical studies. And I didn’t have any book knowledge—everything started from zero. But since the Party had faith in me, I was confident and determined to carry it through.

Slipping through enemy territory

Many of the nurses and doctors in the jungle never went to school nor had prior training. I myself only finished Grade 4. This was due in part to the limitation of the Party’s resources and the need for field medics and nurses in combat situations, but the other part I credit the CPT for believing in our potential.

Having been assigned to medical, I began my studies under the Party. A medical professor from Surat Thani who had studied abroad came to teach us. Neither the Party nor the professor gave us textbooks; we had to take notes ourselves. I learned about anatomy: bones, blood vessels, muscles. While studying with a skeleton I was teased about being a scaredy-cat when it came to ghosts. My friends in the jungle gave me a hard time for being a revolutionary who was afraid of ghosts.

Together with theory was practice. Not in a laboratory, but from the real thing. Not long into my medical studies, I did my first needle jabs. Not on anyone’s body but my own body, my own arms. When I first started training, there was an outbreak of malaria in the Work District, so I got some practice taking care of patients, from taking a temperature to giving an injection.

After learning the basics for about three months, I was transferred to production work in Department Two for a brief period. Then a Party Representative (chattang) informed me that the Party had a resolution for me to continue my medical studies elsewhere. When they first told me I had no idea where this would be; I only knew that it was likely far away. I was simultaneously excited to go and reluctant to leave because I’d be missing Dad and Mom.

My journey began around January 1975. The route passed through the camp where my second oldest brother was stationed, so I had the opportunity to see him—he was the only family member who got to give me a send-off. The journey took quite a long time. It wasn’t a direct car ride, but a series of meeting points to go to. The first leg of the journey, we walked along Banthat Mountain to a camp in Songkhla; that took about four to five days on foot. Then I waited in place in Songkhla for about four months before traveling to Bangkok by train from the Hat Yai train station. At the time my oldest brother who was working in the White Zone (the city) came to pick me up and accompany me to Bangkok. By that time we’d been apart for six whole years. When we met I didn’t even recognize him as my brother. During the trip I was afraid because I didn’t have a National ID. There might be a problem if police asked me to show it. More importantly, at that time, it was territory under the state’s control—enemy territory—that we were traveling through, so danger could arise at any moment. In the end, I made it safely to Bangkok.

Once in Bangkok, a comrade who was an operative in the city picked me up and took me to a house in the city belonging to the CPT before taking me to the North by van with some others, I don’t remember how many. On the way from Bangkok to the North there were no Bases (samnak). We could be stopped and asked for documents and arrested at any time, as this was travel in the White Zone which was completely under state control. It was war back then, so being arrested on the way would be the end of us, as I for example didn’t have a National ID nor any identification document. But I had faith that our comrade could take us to our destination safely, which was the case.

The first destination in the North was Phrae Province. When we arrived we were taken to a very good hotel in order to rest and prepare for the journey into the mountains. During the stay I also had to pack up necessities for the journey. I still remember how clever our guide comrade was, because we were told to pack our things in gift boxes as camouflage. After a few days of staying at the hotel in Phrae, our comrade took us to Nan Province.   When we were getting close to Nan City, our van was flagged by a government officer. Our guide comrade was very smart in being able to distract the officer from us by getting down and talking to him. The necessities for forest living in gift boxes were explained away by the comrade as wedding gifts for the bride and the groom. Finally, our vehicle arrived at the destination safe and sound. In the foothills of Nan Province, a soldier in Liberation Army of Thailand uniform was waiting to receive us. The second I saw the comrade in LAT uniform waiting, I felt the joy and the warmth of having arrived safely at my destination.

The comrade who came to take us to the Stronghold (than thiman) was an ethnic comrade who spoke Central Thai with a strong accent. Because the area we were traveling through wasn’t among the liberated areas fully under the CPT’s control, we still had to take strict precautions. We would only travel at night until dawn, without light, in order not to be exposed (sia lap), and rest in the morning. At times, when we arrived at a Base or a Work District, we might get to rest before moving on. This was what we did, day in and day out, until we arrived at the CPT Stronghold in the North.

I was very excited I’d get to see the CPT’s Northern Stronghold, because I used to listen to the song played on the People’s Radio of Thailand, part of whose lyrics was, Green fields and paddies, Red flags flapping beautifully in the wind. But when I was actually there, what I saw was cogon grass. When I was waiting in place at the Northern Stronghold, I had the opportunity to meet leader comrades of the Party’s Center. That’s when I learned I was going to China.

Surgeon-in-training abroad

Before going to China I had to cross the border and wait for other medical students to join me at Base A30 on the Laotian side. I waited there for seven months, from April to November 1975. My cohort of medical students consisted of twenty-three comrades. Once everyone arrived at Base A30, we departed for China. I was very excited. We traveled in a car belonging to Vietnamese comrades to cross into China. At the Chinese border there was another car provided for by the Chinese government that took us to an airport, where we boarded a plane to Kunming. When we arrived, the Chinese Communist Party gave us a nice accommodation at a pretty comfortable hotel; we stayed there for adjustment for about four or five days. Then we traveled by bus for about two more days to the school.

In China, Thai comrades did not have to wear LAT uniform, just Chinese civilian clothes. A Chinese comrade who was our chaperone also told us emphatically that we must not divulge that we were Thai. It seems that the Chinese Communist Party kept the fact of its assistance to CPT a secret. I remember one time, the Chinese Communist Party organized a big event that was attended by a high-ranking figure from Thailand. A Chinese comrade came to warn us that we must not approach the person nor make it known that we were Thai. Also while in China I was given a Chinese code name (chue chattang); they called me Comrade Hong Mei, which means Red Plum Blossoms.

As for medical studies, the Chinese Communist Party provided us with a group of military doctors to be our professors, as well as a group of military guards to be our chaperones at the school. A professor would teach in Chinese, while an interpreter would translate the Chinese into Thai. No textbooks were distributed to us; we had to take notes just like when I learned the basics in the Work District in Phatthalung. Before classes began, the professors assigned each of the students to a department based on physical considerations. I was picked to study surgery. In my cohort there were twelve surgery students, divided into two units. I had to take classes at other departments as well, but surgery was my focus.

Surgery, at times, involves matters of life and death. Our professor had us start learning by operating on animals before practicing with people. The school raised packs of dogs for use as test subjects in surgery lessons. I learned about how to handle the scalpel, how to make an incision, how to suture, also how to stanch the bleeding. By the end of the course many dogs had been killed. I had to practice with dogs until the rate of survival was higher than that of death; only then did the professor let me practice with people. To this day I am grateful of the CPT and the Chinese Communist Party for giving me the opportunity so that someone like myself who only finished Grade 4 could put on a surgical gown and take on the duty of treating people.

Once my show of skills in class won my professor’s trust, my professor let me assist during an actual operation. The site of practical instruction was a hospital of the military, but most of the patients were civilians. The major cases that I remember include a pregnant woman who had a tumor near her uterus. My professor was the surgeon; I was an assistant. Actually cases like hers shouldn’t be difficult but the pregnancy made it so. When the tumor was excised, everything seemed fine. The stitched-up wound looked normal. But it seemed that during the operation scissors or a scalpel might have nicked the uterus walls which caused bleeding that went undetected during the suturing. That day, after the operation, the professor and I went back to base but were later informed that the person we had just operated on returned to the hospital with shock from excessive bleeding. When we cut her abdomen open there was so much blood coming out that we could not locate its source. In the end, the patient passed away.

Another case I remember was that of a kid who fell from a utility pole. My professor had me try making a diagnosis. From the outside the kid’s injury did not look like much, but my professor told me to try inserting a syringe and drawing out the blood. Turns out there was about three cc’s of blood. My professor said this much bleeding was not normal, meaning there likely was internal organ damage. When we opened him up, we saw a ruptured spleen. But because my professor diagnosed it quickly and treated it in time, the patient was safe. If it was I who was in charge of the diagnosis, the patient might have died.

Whenever I witnessed a patient passing away, I would be shaken. But my professor would always give me moral support, saying that I did well, that I had helped treat many cases successfully. It’s just that my professor was a seasoned doctor: he understood the nature of the work, that death could happen to patients under your care. But when it happened in my presence, I found it hard to accept. Like in one case of a kid who had a tumor in the left chest area. Before the operation my professor tried to console the father of the kid that there was nothing to worry about, but this case was really difficult to operate because the malignant tissue was stuck to the rib cage. In the end the patient passed away due to severe bleeding. When the patient passed, we were still trying to pick the tumor away. When the father learned his child had passed, it was like the world collapsed right in front of him. But I also understood my professor: if a doctor cannot let it go, then it will be too difficult to continue treating patients.

VIP treatment

While in China, we were taken care of very well by the Chinese Communist Party. We didn’t have any tasks or work to do, so we could devote ourselves fully to our studies. We also had time to exercise, play sports, have a well-balanced life. I was good at sports. One time, China’s national basketball team visited the school. I was the only one among the medical students who got to play basketball with the national team.

To the Chinese Communist Party, Thai comrades were important guests from the CPT. On a day commemorated by the CPT or a traditional Thai holiday, like the day of the CPT’s founding or Songkran Day, there would be no classes and they would prepare a special party for us.

I also received weapons training, which was unexpected. I practiced firing handguns as well as Chinese assault rifles. Throwing grenades, too, the kind you pull the string and toss. During grenade practice I was both excited and scared, scared that a grenade I threw would land squarely on me.

After finishing the curriculum in April 1977, fellow students and I went on a sightseeing trip organized by the Chinese Communist Party. Where I really wanted to go was Peking to pay respects to Chairman Mao’s body, but the Chinese government at the time wasn’t ready for the general public to enter the  mausoleum, so we went to other places. What I remember includes a memorial to Doctor Norman Bethune, a Canadian physician who rendered aid to China’s Revolution and died there. During our visit, I was chosen as the representative of women comrades to lay a garland in memory of the doctor. We also went to see a memorial to Liu Hulan, a Chinese heroine who was executed by the Kuomintang government under Chiang Kai-shek, by decapitation. When we went, Liu Hulan’s paternal grandmother was still alive; she was the one to tell us her granddaughter’s story. Granny also said that when Liu passed away she was around my age. The Party also took us to the place of Liu’s detention and the place of her execution, too. The blade used to execute her was kept there still.

On the way to the sightseeing trip, our professors took us on a jet plane, which took only an hour. On the way back, they took us on China’s first-class train—that took two days and two nights. Our professors wanted us to have a chance to compare the two modes of travel.

Back to the nest

After finishing the curriculum and after the sightseeing, in April 1977 I returned to Thailand. On the way back I traveled by plane to Laos, then by car to the Thai border, then on foot to Chiang Rai, then by car from Chiang Rai to Bangkok. For each leg of journey, a different comrade would pick me up from the previous person. Once in Bangkok, I found out that my eldest brother was now responsible for couriering for the Party between the Central Region and the South. My brother was there not only to pick me up and take me down South, but also to bring other comrades to Bangkok. Before travel from Bangkok, I had to wait in a house that was considerably large and could host many comrades.

It was quite a few days of waiting. During the wait, I gave a sick comrade some injections. I traveled South by train to Hat Yai, stayed in Hat Yai a few more days, traveled by car to Kantang District in Trang Province, then into Banthat Mountain towards Phatthalung. During the train ride I turned and saw a little kid on the train with me. Seeing him instantly made me cry silently, because that little kid was probably of the same age as a younger brother of mine when I left home for the jungle. So the sight of that little kid brought out all these overwhelming feelings.

When I arrived at District Two Camp, the sight of the roofs and the putting on of the LAT uniform moved me to tears. I gave a hug to many comrades. The feeling was hard to describe: touched, happy, safe. It was like coming home, back to our safe place. No more worrying about being arrested. Finally, I was once again Comrade Khwan—in the meantime I had taken on as many code names as the number of work districts I’d moved to as a measure of safety. Like when I was in the North, my name was Comrade Prang; in China, Comrade Hong Mei. Now that I got back to Phatthalung, I got back to my original code name.

At first I thought I was going to be the main doctor there, but it turned out that a doctor professor was already living at District Two, so the professor took on the main doctor role, while I became the professor’s assistant and took care of patients. Even though I was not the main doctor, I still did my part fully so as to be worthy of the Party’s trust in choosing me to go study in China.

After being stationed at District Two Camp for a month or so, I was transferred to District Four Camp which was where my dad and mom were. At first Dad and Mom didn’t know that I was back from China already. When they saw their long-lost child, they really lit up.

While I was stationed at District Four Camp, a heavily pregnant comrade was having birth pangs, so I had to deliver her baby. At first I wasn’t confident since it was her first pregnancy, which in the majority of cases will come with difficulties in childbirth. But in the end I managed to deliver the baby safely. That baby of the woman comrade has now finished a degree in pharmacy and works in Srinagarinda Hospital here in Phatthalung.

Another farewell 

At District Two Camp I met two of my younger brothers who had left for the jungle while I was in China. My second oldest brother and the younger brother who left with me had been transferred to the North; I didn’t see them when I got back to Phatthalung. Then, the Party transferred me to District Four Camp, for whose management Dad was responsible, so that I had a chance to see Dad and Mom in my capacity as a doctor.

At Camp Four I occasionally performed surgery. Sometimes I went down to the villages to perform vasectomy on locals. I also performed vasectomy on comrades. Somebody from the valley was carried to camp for treatment of paresis. Treatment took about a month; with acupuncture and pills, they recovered and could walk again.

While at District Four I went home for a visit. Three of my younger siblings still lived there: one was a fifth grader; the other two, twins, were sixth graders. When they saw their long-lost sister, they cried with joy. When I returned to the jungle, I took the three with me. They were all happy to go see Dad and Mom. They would later become youth members of a music unit called Guerrilla Band. Their role was to entertain comrades and villagers.

About two years into my living at District Four Camp, the Party transferred me to help with medical work in Nakhon Si Thammarat. I remember the going away party the night before I left. In front of everyone I spoke about how I felt having to leave my dad, my mom, my brothers, and my friends. Because, for me, this wasn’t the first farewell. I was always put in the position of having to separate from loved ones. I understood and was willing to follow my duty, but I still couldn’t keep from crying.

Meeting the future life partner

On the day I arrived at Nakhon, the camp prepared a welcoming party. The emcee that evening was called Comrade Karun. I secretly admired this comrade; I found him eloquent, sweet-sounding too. Well-spoken, well-mannered, personable.

I lived in Nakhon as a doctor comrade. My duty was to perform surgery on both comrades and the masses who had close ties to the Party. I shared my duty with a male doctor comrade who was part of my cohort in China. This doctor was not stationed full-time at the camp; he only came when there was a surgery or another task. In Nakhon Si Thammarat, the Party Representatives also opened a medical school to train student doctors. Each cohort would be trained over the period of three months. I was responsible for teaching acupuncture. The other doctor I’ve talked about and another doctor who had joined after the incident on the 6th of October and had been transferred from Ronphibun District, were responsible for teaching adult medicine and general diagnostics.

Living in Nakhon was a bit lonely. I leaned on Comrade Karun who stayed close to me and gave me moral support. Sometimes he’d sing for me. Comrade Karun also understood the Phatthalung dialect, because he used to work in the Phatthalung-Trang-Satun camp for a time before coming to Nakhon.

The understanding and closeness between Comrade Karun and I gradually developed until he decided to reveal his true feelings. Many in the camp were aware of our closeness. The Party acknowledged it, too. Finally, I reciprocated Comrade Karun’s affection.

In August 1981, about three months into our relationship, I had to return  unexpectedly to the Phatthalung-Trang-Satun camp because of the news from Phatthalung that my dad and one of my younger brothers were injured. I left without knowing whether or not I would see Comrade Karun again. That period, the state staged sieges and heavy offensives. Together with the forces of repression, the state also employed a psychological operation to pull comrades away from the jungle.

The day Dad was injured, he had invited my younger brother to visit with comrades before his departure from the jungle. On the way, Dad stepped on a land mine that comrades had buried in front of camp. He didn’t remember the marking the comrades made. Poor Dad almost got his legs cut off. He said that if he’d carried a machete with him, he would have chopped his legs off, because they were already about to be severed. For this, appreciation is due to the doctor comrade who worked to save his legs until they healed. Dad could not walk anymore, though, since many of his bones had been torn. Dad’s injuries forced both Dad and Mom out of the jungle so that he could go to Bangkok for treatment, which the Party arranged for him.

After leaving Nakhon in August, in November Comrade Karun moved to the same camp as my younger brothers in Phatthalung for a post in the radio and communications unit. Comrade Karun arrived before Dad’s departure, so he had the opportunity to visit with my dad. Even though Dad wanted to matchmake me with another comrade that he took a liking to, and though I had been approached romantically by multiple male comrades, I didn’t think they were right for me so I didn’t respond to anyone. As for Comrade Karun, even though I had begun building a relationship with him then, I was not ready to build a family so there was no wedding ceremony in the jungle.

Return home

Even though we were now in the same province, Comrade Karun and I still prioritized our service to the Communist Party of Thailand and to the revolutionary mission. Comrade Karun continued working in communications, whereas I continued treating comrades who were sick or wounded from combat. Around 1982-1983, comrades left the jungle in large numbers. My younger brothers left around that time, too. Camps were dissolved; only one camp remained in the area. I myself had to leave District Three Camp of Phatthalung-Trang-Satun to be stationed in District Four Camp in Phatthalung so that the remaining comrades felt secure in knowing that if they fell ill, a doctor would still be there to treat them.

One time, Dad came back to visit in order to convince me to go home. Now that the government was open to training and giving professional license to doctor comrades, if I went home an occupation would be available for me to help my family generate income. But I declined and told Dad that I still could not leave my comrades behind. During that time, I was teaching doctor responsibilities to ten or so comrades at camp so that they could take care of one another. In July 1983, I went to the city and visited Dad at home. Someone came up to me and told me that I did not have to go back anymore. I saw that most comrades had decided to leave the jungle by that point, so I made the decision not to return to the jungle. That was the end of the chapter of my life in the mountains.

Before my life in the jungle, I was very distressed that after finishing Grade 4 Dad and Mom didn’t let me continue in school. But now, I am proud that my parents chose the path they did. They were the pioneers who cleared the path of change for the country. Their kids, myself included, were molded to be patient, strong, courageous, persevering and disciplined; to love fairness and dislike exploitation. Whatever criticisms there are nowadays, on my part I remain thankful and always remember that the Communist Party of Thailand and the Chinese Communist Party gave me opportunities in life. As did the Chinese people: some of their bodies were my teachers during my medical training.

As for Comrade Karun, during the time I moved back to District Four Camp in Phatthalung, I went to visit him one time. Then I lost touch with him. After I returned to the city in 1983, I began to resign myself to the idea that I would not get to see him ever again. But before I could go ahead and find a man in the city, Comrade Karun traveled out of the jungle to visit his sick father in Nakhon. Before returning to the jungle, Comrade Karun came to my house for a visit. I was overjoyed to see him again. My family and I tried to convince him to not return to the jungle in order to settle down and build a family with me. Finally, Comrade Karun or Khun Somyot, my husband, agreed to officially become engaged with me before he returned to Thammasat to finish his studies. Once he graduated, he came back to marry me, build a loving family, and be my confidante and partner through thick and thin who fulfills my life to this day.

This article is co-produced by the Museum of Popular History and the Siddhi-Issara Foundation as part of the project Dissident Dreams, sponsored by Democracy Discourse Series, De La Salle University, the Philippines