A Gift from Om Si

Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude. -AA Milne.

I was not planning to write another blog until after the upcoming visit from my parents. However, something just happened that I felt I must share.

Om Si, mentally disabled mischievous troublemaker, screamer extraordinaire, and hands-down winner of Teacher Paul’s Favorite Student of the Month for nine months and running, who was absent from school today, came into my office with his mother and presented me with a gift. The occasion? My swiftly approaching (yet still 5 weeks away) departure from Bunditnoi.

The gift? A piece of fabric. It is long, rectangular, plaid, and very thin. It might be a kind of traditional Thai garb, but I think not. I MUST think of a worthy use for this worthy gift.

Since my last post about him, Om Si and I have grown very close. Instead of babbling in his inane, high-pitched Thai all the time (though he still does this often), he likes to lead me by the hand around his classroom, pointing to things for which he already knows the English word and ask me how to say them. Or, he’ll come sit on my lap and say, “The lion says…” or “The owl says…” or any other animal, and I have to make the corresponding animal sounds.


Om Si finds my iPod, tries to steal it.


Playing with Om Si on Loy Krathong (Thai holiday)

My favorite memory of Om Si is a day in November when I was reading on the couch in the library and he came and, with no prompting on my part, lay down next to me. He eventually noticed I had an iPod in my hand and grabbed it from me, opened YouTube, and searched for “The Three Little Pigs.” We spent the next twenty minutes watching various 2-3 minute versions of the fairy tale together.

Later that day Hannah told me, “You won’t believe what Om Si just did.” He’d gone up to her in the office and recited the entire fairy tale for her in English.

For the next month or so, every time I said to him “Let me in, let me in!” he’d say, “Not by the hairs on my chinny-chin-chin!”

This in particular was special for me because early on in my time at Bunditnoi, I’d read his class a different fairy tale each week. The Three Little Pigs was a crowd favorite, in part because of my scary wolf voice, and in part because I’d do a ridiculous tug on my beard at “Not by the hairs on my chinny-chin-chin!” But back then, Om Si seemed to have no interest in me, or English, or really anything at all.

To hear him say “Not by the hairs on my chinny-chin-chin!” and then fake tug on his beard was enough to melt a frozen heart!

I feel the same way about his gift. I don’t know what the intention was behind it, or what I’m supposed to use it for. But I’m as grateful for this silly piece of cloth as I am for the most meaningful of gifts.


A simple gift.