Southern Thai Tale
Drinking for Long Life
Wimon Dumsi (1994: 92-93)
Once upon a time, there was a big drinker who had never done any good and had never committed any sins either.
There were three people in his family; his wife, his son and him. He desired his son to be ordained as a Buddhist monk. Unfortunately, he died at the age of 50. It was before the ordination of his beloved son.
Before his death, he told his family to put a few bottles of alcohol in his coffin in order to quench his thirst with it after he died.
After his death, his spirit went to hell. There, the guardian of the dead asked him, “Why do you prefer alcohol? Is it tasty?”
“It is the greatest thing on earth I’ve ever drunk. No words can explain its terrific flavour. Try it and you will know,” said the man.
“What a pity! I won’t know its flavour because in hell we don’t have anything like this,” said the guardian of the dead.
“I take a few bottles of alcohol with me. Here you are. Try it,” said the man.
After tasting the alcohol, the guardian was impressed. He drank a bottle of it and got drunk because he had never tried it before. After that both of them promised to be friends.
The guardian of the dead told the man, “If you want anything, just tell me. I’m willing to help you.”
“I desire nothing other than to arrange the ordination for my son. Please let me go back home for only one more year. I long to be in the religious ceremony of my son,” the man begged the guardian.
As the guardian liked the man very much, he extended the man’s life by adding one more year to the age of him in a register. But he was blind drunk, so he wrote number 1 at the end of the figure 50 instead of erasing number 0 from the figure before writing number 1. As a result, the man’s age was 501, not 51.
When the man was alive again, he arranged the ordination for his son and then waited for the time to die. Many years passed by, but he didn’t die. He was so sad because his wife, his son and all the descendants were dead, but he wasn’t.
(Informant: Mr Wae Khanom)
18 April 2000