Miss Space

Translated by: 
Mui Poopoksakul

When, in my early years at primary school, I had just started learning to write, the teacher taught us to put our index fingers between sentences to ensure neat, even spaces throughout the composition.

Years later, after I’d mastered writing (or at least scrawling), the index-finger system was ignored and eventually abandoned. The spaces between sentences were liberated from their regulator and put in charge of their own arrangement. An up-to-me anarchy prevailed. Without checks and bounds, the letters became brash – they got loose, lax and liquidy, lumped together or leaning forwards and backwards in a carefree and shameless manner.

Even so, the size of my spaces could still be described as normal. It didn’t strike the eye as odd, unlike those produced by the following person:

Miss Wondee.

She was in her early twenties. Her birth fell on a hot, sunny noon. The doctor who performed the delivery was in a bad mood that day. He had diarrhoea and a backache, and his recurrent migraine was also acting up. Yet he upheld his duty, seamlessly managing to pull out the head of a bright pink, grumpy-faced baby girl. When the umbilical cord linking mother and child was snipped, one life became two.

The baby girl screamed as if she regretted being born. Her mother gathered her strength and turned to look, with concerned tenderness, at the infant who had inhabited her body.


This is the first minute of life in the outside world? How miraculous and how pitiful at the same time. Baby, don’t cry. This is all there is to life: live for a while, eat, sleep, learn from books made up of other people’s ideas, meet all kinds of folks, some you’ll love, some you’ll hate. When you meet the one you hate least, you can be together, help each other along as you eat and sleep and earn baht to exchange for possessions. If you want a lot of possessions, you’ll have to earn a lot of baht. If you’re lucky (or unlucky), you’ll live to be old. Sometimes you’re tired, sometimes bored, sometimes sad, sometimes happy – that’s all life is. You won’t have to wait too long before you die.


I first met Miss Wondee on the bus. We were sitting next to each other, and she was bent over scribbling something. She had a notebook with yellow paper on her lap and a 2B pencil in her right hand. My nose and the ease with which it tended towards its adjective made me sneak a look at what she was writing, to see whether it was an object worthy of my attention.

It was then, at 4:25 p.m., to be exact, that I noticed the extraordinary size of the spaces between Miss Wondee’s sentences. The air-conditioned bus (the condition of the air went from good to bad) was turning right at the crossroads. The driver had twangy upcountry music playing faintly on the radio. The lyrics recounted the classic story of a farmer coming to the big city to look for his girlfriend, who had left the provinces to sell herself under the neon lights.

I remember all this in such detail because of the size of Miss Wondee’s spaces. They galvanised my consciousness as though it had been struck by lightning, and I briefly became abnormally perceptive, able to absorb information about my environment instantaneously and effortlessly. Thank god, I stopped just short of Nirvana.

‘Miss Space’ is included in The Sad Part Was, published by Tilted Axis Press.

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