BEEP BEEP!!! …BEEP BEEEEEP!!! The loud warning honk from the motorbike behind Jaru was an everyday occurrence. His sleepy fishing village of Chaloklum was now a little tourist hotspot on the tropical Thai island, and even though it was one of the quietest villages around, it was hard to get away from the racing backpackers and honks of horns mingled with birdsongs filling the air.
“Stupid farang! Their not even supposed to drive down this way!” Even though Jaru was used to it, he still couldn’t get over the idiocy of some drivers.
Jaru scuttled off to the edge of the dirt track which wasn’t even supposed to be a road, and tried to keep his eyes focused in front of him so he didn’t lose his balance or drop his belongings, or get hit by the passing motorbike.
The predictable laughing quickly commenced from the people on the motorbike, and as usual, it was directed at Jaru.
“Hahahaha! Look at that dog! That’s hilarious! He’s wearing a little vest! A vest!!”
“Hahaha! that’s so funny! Look! He’s carrying a bag in his mouth, Oh my God it looks like a takeaway box in there!!”
The foreign voices drifted off into the wind along with their bike fumes, and Jaru kept his head down and kept walking. He could still hear them talking in the distance, the last thing he heard the girl say was “I bet he stole it from someone hahaha!” and of course they continued to laugh in unison as they drove off.
Jaru breathed a sigh of disdain and shook his head as to flick away the foul accusation. He hated people saying that he was a thief, even more than he hated people saying that he was a dog, although, he couldn’t actually fault them for the dog comment, as that’s exactly what he was, a dog. A street dog no less, with four legs and a tail. But not a thief!
He had never been a thief in all his life! Partly due to the fact that he had something stolen from him in the past, something precious that he could never get back.
Even though Jaru was a street dog, he did indeed wear a little blue vest. He didn’t really like to be naked, and as he lived at the back of an unkept boat yard, he didn’t like getting dirty if he could help it. He chose to live at the abandoned boat yard so no one would bother him, and to his relief the other street dogs would usually stay out of his way too, which was the way he liked it. Jaru was sure they could tell that he wasn't quite one of them. Just because he was a dog, it didn’t mean he had to act like a dog, does it….?
Jaru kept walking, more carefully this time as he was actually carrying a takeaway and he certainly didn't want to spill any of it! Pad Thai noodles were his favourite, ever since he was a boy. The lime juice and peanuts coating the noodles in a sweet glaze was enough to make Jaru’s mouth water. He picked up his pace to reach home sooner.
I know what you’re thinking… ‘since he was a boy…a boy you say?’ Yes, a boy.
You see, Jaru wasn’t always this way. He came from a long line of fishermen in Chaloklum, human fishermen, make no mistake about that. He was a normal little boy once, a happy little boy, and he grew into a normal, happy, young man, just as you would expect him to. No one could of predicted Jaru’s fate, and not many people realised it had fallen into the hands of a very volatile spirit known as Phi Thale.
One night, when Jaru was playing cards at a harbour side bar, a storm that seemed to appear out of nowhere struck the village with full force. The sky opened up and unleashed the heaviest rain that Jaru had ever felt. Everyone ran to take shelter, shielding themselves from the cold raindrops that felt like piercing shards of glass.
Jaru had to run along the seafront to his family’s squid shop, but he kept having to stop and steady himself from the crashing waves that were rushing over the wall and smashing into him like a stampede of angry beasts. Jaru looked up at the next wave that was about to envelop him, and he could see the very face that he had feared all of his life. It was Phi Thale, the spirit of the sea.
Jaru’s family had always tried so hard to please Phi Thale, especially as they took fish from her everyday. Leading up to the storm, the family were leaving bigger and more plentiful gifts than ever before, placing their offerings in the little spirit house next to the shop. But Phi Thale was not satisfied, and felt it was time to take one of the fishermen’s children, just as they had taken so many of hers.
Jaru looked up into the burning yellow eyes of the giant squid that Phi Thale embodied. As the sky lit up with a bright red flash, he felt the tight grip of long tentacles crushing the life out of his chest and his stomach, his every free limb becoming more entangled as he resisted. Jaru was dragged into the raging ocean and submerged into the black abyss, ceasing to exist as the Jaru he once was.
The next day, Jaru’s family and the entire village searched for him on land and out to sea, even though the sea still raged. The day after, they searched again, and the day after that, they searched yet again, every day leaving more and more offerings for Phi Thale.
It wasn’t until Jaru’s mother decided to take every squid that she had in the shop and leave them in a huge pile at the foot of the spirit house. The next morning, the small mountain of squid had disappeared, and the sea finally fell still and calm.
It seemed that Phi Thale had found peace and was satisfied with the offering that was made to her. She did not however, want to return another fisherman, so she washed up a being that could live amongst the villagers but cause her no threat. Jaru woke up on the sea shore transformed into a dog. He felt the same inside, but his form was no longer his own.
Of course Jaru tried to return to his family home, but they had no more love in their hearts for anything after their son was taken, and they did not know that he had returned. So Jaru went off to live on his own, away from his family and the squid shop, and took refuge in the abandoned boat yard.
Although the yard was out of the way from the other villagers, Jaru did have one neighbour that he shared the space with. An old skeleton of a man that lived in a makeshift house that was camouflaged by sheets of scrap metal, fallen trees and boat pieces. Jaru didn’t mind the man living there as they had worked out an arrangement that suited the both of them.
The man, whose name was Natee, was afraid of a spirit that haunted the boat yard. Natee liked his homemade house and wanted to remain there, but was always so afraid to sleep. He would resort to sleeping with one eye open which as you can imagine, is not a proper rest for a man. Sometimes he wouldn't sleep at all, so when Jaru turned up, they agreed that he would act as a guard dog to scare away any unwanted spirits and in return, the man would give Jaru a small portion of his begging money, that way Jaru could buy proper food to eat from the village.
Natee had always been known to talk to himself, and to animals, as well as to everyone else. He was deemed ‘unwell in the mind’ by the other villagers and so they took pity on him and gave him donations of money, food and clothes.
The villagers assumed that the intelligent dog was the man’s helper and when he approached the Pad Thai stall with a fifty baht note in his mouth, and hit the menu precisely with his paw, he was helping Natee, which in a way, he was. He was helping Natee remain in his home, and was helping himself to noodles.