This is Pong’s innocent answer. Pong is a Karen girl who lives on the hill in Mae Hong Sorn province. Pong answers while she draws a princess in a fairy tale that every child dreams to be in. The princess lives in a beautiful palace and has a lot of treasure. But what Pong needs the most is having chicken drumsticks to eat every day. Pong hardly gets to eat any meat, she could not recall the last time she had pork, her favorite meat. Her simple meals consist of what she can find in the woods and streams, such as freshwater shrimps and crabs, river snails, fingerlings, tadpoles or dragonfly larvae, which can fill up her stomach.
Pong’s little house was built on her uncle’s land by the hill. The house is made of woven bamboo with a thatched roof. The floor is elevated, as is common in Karen-style houses. Electricity is supplied through an extension cord from another house. Some days there is enough power, on other days there isn’t. Pong’s family does not have a water supply system and her mother cannot afford to install pipes to convey water to the house. When nature calls, Pong must run to use the toilet at her grandmother’s house, which is about 200 metres away.
Since Pong’s parents separated, her mother has been the only backbone of the family. To make matters worse, her grandmother fell sick with breast cancer. She needed an operation and continuous treatments. All the burden fell onto her mother’s shoulders. Even though the little girl could not work, she always volunteers to do everything that she could to help her mother.
In a fairy tale, everyone wants their 3 wishes to come true in real life. So does Pong. The first wish she makes without any hesitation is “to make my mum happy.” Because her mother is all she has in life. Pong sees her cry alone all the time and once asked her mother why she cried. The answer was that she had no money. The little girl promises that she would save money. Her daily allowance to school is 10 Baht, but she uses only 5 Baht and then saves the other half in a piggy bank at home.
My Second Wish is to Become Rich… In Pong’s opinion, if she is rich, then everyone in the family would be happy and she can go to school and become a teacher when she grows up, just like she hopes to do. This dream job has changed from the original one, which was to become a nurse in a white uniform, as the little girl realised that her family cannot afford the fees. Pong told her mother, “If I were to become a nurse, do you have the money? Maybe I’d better be a teacher.”
Pong’s last wish is to make her family members love one another. To Pong, everyone in the family is always busy. She has to go to school and find cicadas for grandma to deep fry and eat on the weekends, while others must work to provide for the family. It is hard for all the family members to spend quality time together. Retrieving the happiness that is lost in our struggle to survive is what Pong wishes for, but with the family facing poverty, her dream is a distant reality.