When things go wrong… A short story – by Colin Devonshire
“Buri Ram Farmer Upset with School Board”. The national paper’s headline jumped from the front page and slapped Simon’s face.
A farmer lives with his wife and daughters in the northeastern region of Thailand known as Issan. Rice farming has been a way of life for generations. Many families, including Simon’s Thai family, rely on the land for their livelihood, and the rice they grow is a staple food in the region. But for one rice farmer from a small village outside Buri Ram, a recent incident involving his daughter and the school board left him angry and frustrated.
The farmer, Sak, has been farming rice for over 20 years. He works hard in the fields, tending to his crops and ensuring they are healthy and robust. His daughter, Nok, is his pride and joy. She is a bright and talented student who loves to learn and is always eager to please her teachers.
Recently, Nok came home from school in tears. She had been summoned into the principal’s office and told she was not allowed to participate in a school event because she had missed too many classes. Sak was outraged. He knew that his daughter had been working hard in school and had only missed a few days due to a family emergency. However, he suspected the real reason was that the family could not afford the needed attire.
When Sak went to the school to speak to the principal, he was met with rudeness and disrespect. The principal told him that his daughter was a poor student and that he should focus on his farming instead of worrying about her education. Sak was shocked and hurt. He had always believed that education was necessary, and he had worked hard to ensure that his daughter had the opportunity to learn and grow.
Feeling frustrated and helpless, Sak decided to speak out about his experience. He reached out to local media outlets and shared his story, hoping to raise awareness about the importance of education and the need for respect and fairness in schools. His story quickly gained traction, and many people in the community rallied behind him, supporting his efforts to advocate for his daughter and all students in the region.
Thanks to Sak’s bravery and determination, the school board was forced to apologize for their behaviour and take steps to improve their treatment of students and parents. As a result, Nok was allowed to participate in the school event, and Sak felt a sense of pride and satisfaction in knowing he had stood up for what was right.
For Sak, the experience was a reminder that speaking out and fighting for justice is crucial, even in the face of adversity. He continues to work hard in his fields, but he also takes time to advocate for education and the well-being of his community. As a result, his daughter is thriving in school, and Sak is proud to be a voice for those who may not have the courage to speak out.
Simon leaned back in his chair and clapped the story. He considered his response to his summons to his daughters and stepdaughter’s school. ‘Ha, ha, maybe in another life,’ he said.
Simon whistled at Jum, his wife, in the paddy field. ‘Came in; I need to tell you something.’
He slammed the letter on the table. ‘Why didn’t you tell me about this?’
‘What are you going to do about it? You can’t read or speak Thai. I’ll have to deal with it, like always.’
‘Thankfully, your eldest girl told me what the headmaster said about our children.’
‘She is not my eldest; she is “our” girl. Or have you forgotten that too?’
‘Whatever, I will not have any half-wit teacher slagging off my kids.’
‘Is it impossible that the girls have watched you and copied what they see?’
Simon jumped from his seat and lashed out. Jum was too fit and fast; she nipped back to the field.
‘Bloody women, bloody kids, bloody school, and bloody Thailand.’ He snatched the remote and hunted something worth watching. Then threw the Japanese plastic to the floor.
Lek, the eldest stepdaughter, put her arm around Simon. ‘Calm down, Dad. It’s the only school,’ she said.
‘Is it true what you read out to me?’
‘Yes, the girls have been misbehaving with the local lads. It is giving the school a bad name. That’s what the master said.’
‘Well, no one talks about my girls like that and gets away with it,’ he slapped the table.
Lek grinned and skipped to the kitchen, ‘Coffee, Dad?’
A week passed, and the Bangkok Post was delivered, even if Simon was no longer there to read it.
“The Buri Ram Murderer: ‘The Most Brutal and Unprovoked Murder Ever Known in The Region’.
Simon Clifford, pictured above, was due to be hanged in February for murdering three school board members in “the most brutal and unprovoked murder ever known in Issan,”
Last week, local farm owner Simon Clifford murdered three school board members in what several local Thai newspapers called “the most brutal and unprovoked murder ever known in Northern Thailand.”
They reported that “Clifford, an Englishman residing a few miles from the scene of the tragedy, shot and killed Teacher, Em, Headmaster, Khun Jo and Secretary Khun Aem, all being members of the Buri Ram Secondary school board, who were holding the regular annual election of school directors for that district.” Khun Jo, who survived the shooting for several hours before dying of his wounds, said the shooting happened after the board members began discussing textbooks for the district. Jo said Clifford became heated during the meeting and accused the board of slandering his family. The Local Thai Times reported last Wednesday that “Clifford said the men had been slagging off about his daughters, saying they were sluts.”
During the heated discussion, the local News reported Clifford accidentally fired his pistol into the floor at the headmaster’s feet before taking deliberate aim after more arguing and “striking Khun Jo in the mouth [with a bullet] and killing him instantly.” Clifford fired two shots at the secretary and then fired a shot at Jo before he left the building. Local News noted that Clifford walked a short way away before coming back to close the door to the building, then walking to his motorbike and then riding to the town police station to turn himself in. He was detained by the deputy sheriff and placed in the county jail.
Clifford was found guilty of the murders and sentenced by Judge Asak of the Judicial District to be hanged.
The local paper reported later that Clifford’s attorney went before the state Supreme Court and “secured a writ of supersedes, filing records in which many errors are alleged.” But the County Republican reported that the Supreme Court affirmed Clifford’s conviction and the lower court’s judgment. “The decision was concurred in by the entire court, which held that the errors in the district court, which were used on Clifford’s behalf, were not substantiated, and that the lower court’s sentence must be carried out,” the News reported.
It was reported later that Clifford sent a letter to the governor asking for a commutation, claiming that the three members of the school board made a rush at him and that one of them was also armed. “Being afraid, he fired a shot into the floor, and then as they persisted, he killed them,” reported the Local Times.
A week later, the Local Times reported Clifford was due to be hanged and “died by his hand maintaining a justification for his crime.”
But there is so much more to this story.
Simon Clifford had been trying unsuccessfully to get school books for his children so he could teach them during the hot season when his children couldn’t get cool enough at school. The school board refused and started spreading rumours about Simon and his daughters.
It is understood that Simon confronted the school board and asked them to retract their statements, or he would shoot them, the board members refused, and then Simon Clifford shot them.
The British police were informed, and they reported that a man with similar looks was wanted for killing his English wife, and he then killed six of the local school teachers for failing him years earlier.
Read more on Substack HERE
Leave a Reply