History & Memory

Portrait of 'Little Granny' (Widow of Nai Chit Sinhaseni)

This painting is inspired by personal family history. All my life I have seen 'Little Granny' walk around my grandmother's compound. We children did not know the full story, that her husband had been the scapegoat royal page in the death of King Ananda; all we knew was that 'Grandpa Chit', one of our relatives, had been wrongly executed, leaving 'Little Granny' a widow with seven daughters to take care of. She had come to seek refuge with our family.

'Little Granny' likes to take me around the garden, showing me traditional Thai plants. Talking to her over the years, I came to understand her husband's spirit of sacrifice, love of homeland and divine respect for the institution of monarchy -- traits so ingrained in the blood of his family, which has served the crown so loyally for so many generations. Meanwhile cruel kids at school were calling her children "Sinhaseni the King-killers!" I myself remember squirming when a history teacher wrote my grandmother's family name in bold white chalk smack in the middle of the blackboard, right there in front of the whole class, and taught us all that it was the name of the evil man who had shot King Ananda.

When elephants fight, the grass is crushed, the proverb goes. With this painting, for which 'Little Granny' kindly sat for me, I hope I may be permitted to share the suffering of one blade of grass.

Ing K