It depicts a young man being dragged across the ground by a piece of cloth around his neck. Somehow you know before the professor says a word that this is Jaruphong, that this is the evidence that Jinda hoped to find — and desperately hoped not to find. It is a hurried photograph, somewhat overexposed, no doubt taken on the run. But there is no denying the fate that it reveals.
In all the years since the photograph was taken, Jinda and Lin Thongsin have not seen it. For decades, even as it circulated among Thongchai and the other survivors of the massacre at Thammasat University, Jaruphong's friends could not bear to tell them it existed. They heard news that Jaruphong's parents were still looking for him, were still hoping that one day he would return home. Their hearts broke, yet they still could not share the photograph.
Some truths are too painful.
Thailand is a generally beautiful country, populated by generally beautiful people — a self-described "land of smiles," where grace and serenity are closely held facets of the national identity. Thais, most of whom are Buddhists, strive for emotional pacifism as a religious and cultural ideal. As one Thai expression maintains, they seek always to "keep a cool heart."
In the middle of the 1970s, however, this proved difficult. Thailand, which shares a peninsula with Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, was a political island surrounded by a Communist sea. Its own democratically elected government, established in 1973 after a long series of military coups and dictatorial regimes, was hardly a rock of assurance. Insecurity led to fear, and fear led many Thai hearts to turn severely uncool. In 1975 and early 1976, the headlines were rife with political assassinations, power grabs, propaganda, and innuendo.