“They raised the incense three times to their heads and then placed the sticks in a small vase full of sand.”Tweet
Jasmine’s fiancée visa paperwork was completed in South Korea, Thailand, and America. Luke printed the paperwork at his old job, filled out what he could, marked places that Jasmine needed to fill out, and mailed the paperwork to her; once she completed her sections, she mailed them back to Luke, who sent them to his mother Mabelle in America. After turning in the documentation and paying the required fees, an INS agent informed Mabelle by phone that it would take six months before Jasmine’s paperwork would be processed.
Mabelle asked the INS agent: “Don’t you need to go shopping?”
“What woman doesn’t?”
“How much do you spend at the mall?”
The next day Mabelle sent a birthday card filled with five new $100 bills to the P.O. box address the INS agent had given her. Two weeks later, Jasmine’s acceptance letter arrived in the mail at Luke’s parents’ house in Texas.
After a ten-hour drive from Bangkok in a rented van, Jasmine, Luke, Mabelle, and Sampson (Luke’s stepfather) arrived in Jasmine’s village a little after sunrise. Her family house: wooden, on stilts, palm and fruit trees in the yard, and a small river wound behind.
The village spread for three miles along a paved two-lane country road. The villagers knew that Jasmine and her farang man were coming for their wedding today, so when the van parked in the shade of a mango tree, it was surrounded by peoples of all ages excitedly talking and gesturing. Jasmine got out of the sliding door and was lost to Luke in a crowd of women. He stepped out and reached back into the van to assist Mabelle, and when she emerged, the crowd of women around Jasmine pushed Luke away and grasped Mabelle’s arms, escorting her under the house where hammocks hung, woven mats covered the ground, and two monks sat on a small wooden table.
The words khoa, “white,” and pumpooee, “plump”—a term of endearment—were repeated over and over by the women. Mabelle wore a white cotton blouse and jean shorts, so her beefy arms and legs were exposed, and the villagers had never seen anyone so fair and adipose. The women gleefully pushed her to sit on a woven mat, but Mabelle resisted, and with a lost look on her face, she said in English how she could not bend her surgically replaced knee to sit that low.
Jasmine came to her rescue and explained to the others why Mabelle could not sit on the mat. Jasmine asked a neighbor who had a rattan chair if she would bring it over. A few minutes later, a smiling young boy placed the chair in front of Mabelle, who sat while everyone waited to see if it would hold. A gaggle of elderly ladies sat on mats around Mabelle, taking turns holding her hand and periodically massaging the farang woman’s arm. The Thai women were of the same generation as Mabelle, but Jasmine noticed how spry the Thai ladies were in comparison to her soon-to-be mother-in-law. The difference was that Mabelle’s skin was still fairly wrinkle free, while the Thai women’s faces, after working their entire lives under the tropical sun in the rice paddies, had deep creases.
One of the women patted Mabelle’s protruding belly.
“Don’t do that,” Mabelle said.
“Don’t worry,” Luke said. “She’s impressed by your weight because it signifies wealth.”
Mabelle smiled and ceased her protestations. Sampson had Mabelle’s purse on his shoulder and stood behind her like a nervous sentry.
Jasmine took Luke’s arm and directed him to the table where the monks sat; one was a sexagenarian, the other looked to be in his twenties. Jasmine and Luke knelt in front of them. “This is my uncle, my father’s brother,” Jasmine said, referring to the older monk. Jasmine and Luke presented praying hands and bowed three times to the monks.
When Luke rose, his mother asked, “Why you got to bow to them?”
“To show respect for the Buddha.”
“But they’re just men. They ain’t the Buddha.”
“And Pastor Gibson ain’t Jesus. But you show him respect.”
“That’s different, son. Those men are half-naked, and why they got to sit on the table. Ain’t that where we’ll be eating later?”
“Monks must have the highest seat as a sign of respect.”
“They sure get a lot of respect.”
“Don’t worry, Mother. As a guest and an elder, you’ll get a lot of respect too.”
“Oh, my God! Son, help me.”
One of the women raised Mabelle’s shirt revealing her belly, which the Thai ladies eagerly rubbed. Mabelle pulled down her shirt, and Sampson stepped forward to protect his wife but was reluctant to touch anyone.
“This ain’t respect, son.”
“It’s interest in you, and playfulness.”
A teen girl brought two plates of sliced mangoes, giving the first one to the monks and presenting the second one to Mabelle. Another girl brought bottled water to Mabelle and Sampson. This seemed to placate Mabelle, and seeing that his mother had calmed down, Luke told her that he and Jasmine had to go upstairs.
“To pay respects to her father.”
“I thought her father was dead.”
“He is. We’re going to pray to his spirit.”
“Y’all doing voodoo, son?”
“No. This is Jasmine’s culture.”
“You’re sure giving in a lot to her culture.”
“Mom, I’ll be back in a few minutes.”
Jasmine and Luke went upstairs, where there was an open living area and two rooms on the right. One room was the bedroom of Jasmine’s older brother Pee Thara who still lived in the family house and the other room was where they kept the shrine to their father’s spirit.
“Only family can come in this room,” Jasmine said. “We are about to marry, so you are Father’s son-in-law.”
Jasmine lit a yellow incense, handed it to Luke, and they knelt on the wooden plank floor in front of a black and white photo of Mr. Khong flanked by portraits of Thai kings. They raised the incense three times to their foreheads, and then held them in front of their chests: Father, this is my husband, Luke. I know you will like him. He is a good man. He is quiet and respectful. Please bless our marriage and watch over us. I will bring your photo with us to America, and I will pray to your spirit every night.
They raised the incense three times to their heads and then placed the sticks in a small vase full of sand.
Jasmine’s father died nine years ago when she was eighteen.
Jasmine’s father, like Luke’s, was in his fifties when she was born; she and Luke were the youngest in their families. Due to their late births, Jasmine had two older siblings, and Luke had a half-sister Desiree from Mabelle’s first marriage. When Luke was born, Desiree was in junior high school. Desiree was a demon child; Jeremiah—Luke’s father—constantly threatened to ship her off to an all-girls military school in West Texas. He believed that would curtail her wild ways—drinking, pot, and lots of boys. But the cost; Jeremiah did not deem sending her away worth the investment. After her high school graduation ceremony—which Jeremiah, at Mabelle’s insistence and beaucoup broken dishes, attended—Desiree moved into an apartment with her best girlfriend and pot partner. She supported herself cooking on the midnight shift at the Waffle House.
Luke was not in contact with Desiree, who hated Jeremiah, and as a boy Luke knew it, making him resent her. If only she wouldn’t provoke Dad, Luke thought throughout his youth, then we could be friends. Friendship was all Luke allowed himself to hope for; being family was too distant, too monumental.
Jasmine’s brother Pee Thara was a high school student when she was born. In his teens and early twenties he was the provincial Muy Thai champion. Jasmine loved and feared her brother. When she was a child, if she did something that Pee Thara did not approve of, he would slap her face. After her father’s death, no one protected Jasmine from Pee Thara. With her Accounting degree in hand, Jasmine planned to move to Bangkok. When Pee Thara heard of this, he came to her apartment near campus, forbade her to move to that city where they trick silly country girls. A half dozen slaps accompanied by more insults were delivered before he left. Jasmine curled up on the floor, clutched her knees to her chest, asked her father’s spirit to protect her, and determined to leave for Bangkok the next morning.
Jasmine’s strongest relationship was with her sister Pee Rum, whom she had initially believed was her mother. Jasmine’s mother passed away three months after giving birth to her, and Pee Rum was the only female figure she knew. Jasmine’s father took primary care of her, but Pee Rum also fed, cleaned, and dressed her. When Jasmine was six years old, Pee Rum married, prompting Jasmine to ask her father: “Why is mother leaving us?”
Jasmine’s father knew he could no longer postpone the story. He took Jasmine’s hand and eased her down to the wood floor by him. When Jasmine saw her father’s eyes watering, she began crying before he spoke. His heart felt like a stone as he explained the details: the day, the year, the time—but Mr. Khong knew these items were not the most important.
“I am sorry you will never know your mother. I courted her under the moon.”
Jasmine heard her father’s words but could not imagine this anonymous mother; she had not suckled at her breasts. She had a father, loved her father, and she thought she had a mother…was she a half-orphan? Jasmine did not like that term. She was completely her father’s daughter.
She would be completely Luke’s wife.
Downstairs, Jasmine saw Mabelle and Sampson enraptured by the chaos of family and friends running around the outdoor kitchen with large sacks of rice, women slicing peppers and vegetables, the smells of garlic, sweet basil, and cilantro filled the air. Seeing that they were fine, Jasmine led Luke by the hand to the bathroom at the back of the house to bathe and change before the wedding.
The paperwork and other requirements for the fiancée visa took all of her time, and to get everything completed in time for Luke’s return Jasmine had quit her job in the accounting office of a travel agency.
Quitting her job to await Luke’s return infuriated Pee Thara, who said Luke would not return. “You’re going to be like all the other stupid Thai girls who give up their lives to farang men’s lies.”
A few weeks before Luke’s return, Jasmine emailed him, telling him what her brother had said. Jasmine wrote: “I gave up my life for you. Please be honest and keep your promise.” Jasmine sat in the internet café that day for over an hour, looking at the words on the screen, considering whether she should send the message. She worried that it might anger Luke and make him change his mind; or worse, Pee Thara could be correct, and when Luke read the message, he would laugh at her. In the end, she sent the message, deciding it was best to be honest.
The next day when Jasmine went to the internet café, she was overjoyed to read Luke’s response: “I am angry at Pee Thara, but what he said only strengthens my desire to marry you. I do not want you to look foolish in front of your family, and I do not like your brother casting me as just another farang taking advantage of a Thai woman. I will return and we will be married. Phom rak khun mak kharb”—I love you very much.
Luke spotted Pee Thara drinking beers with other men behind the house, and he pulled away from Jasmine to greet him.
“Sawadee khrab. Phom tee nee.” Hello. I am here.
Pee Thara smiled and spoke in Thai, but Luke responded: “Mai khow jai khrab”—I don’t understand—and then walked away.
“Tee rak, why did you talk to Pee Thara like that?” Jasmine asked.
“I wanted him to know that I was here and that I don’t care to hear what he has to say.”
“But being mean is not good on our wedding day. Today we should act and think positively. If we do not, bad things can happen.”
“I am thinking positive, baby. I am positive that I want to marry you, and I am positive that we will be together forever.”
Jasmine wanted to hug Luke’s neck, but modesty made her hold back. Instead, she squeezed his hand and continued to the cistern-fed bathroom adjacent to the back of the house.
The rainwater in the cistern was refreshing, and when they emerged from bathing, the tropical heat was more bearable. Jasmine wore a white, silk skirt and a matching blouse with faux pearl buttons. Luke changed into one of the suits he had tailored in Bangkok. He felt rejuvenated and elated knowing that in a few minutes Jasmine would be his wife. While they were not signing a marriage certificate at this ceremony—if they did, then her fiancée visa would be voided and she could not travel to America where they would have their official wedding and paperwork completed for the government—he was proud that afterwards, her family could not look askance at their relationship; by local standards, they would be husband and wife, and Jasmine would be due the respect of a married woman; she would no longer be considered a stupid girl who fell for a farang’s lies.
The old women still sat with Mabelle while Sampson stood guard. Her face displayed concern.
“I saw a dog lick the chopping block where they’re preparing the food. All my years of cooking, and I’ve never seen something so unhygienic,” Mabelle said.
“Don’t worry,” Luke said. “Cooking the meat will kill any germs.”
“I don’t want to eat that dirty food.”
“Look around, Mother. It’s not like we can run and get you a burger.”
“I’ll eat the fruit and vegetables, but I’m not eating the meat.”
“I agree with your mother,” Sampson said.
The crowd began to buzz: people ran up and down the wooden stairs leading to the living quarters of the house, carrying flowers, plates, and bottles of water and red soda. When the running up and down stairs finished, the monks walked upstairs. The old women helped Mabelle stand and pulled her toward the steep wooden stairs.
“Son, I can’t climb up there.”
Jasmine explained the problem of Mabelle’s knees to Pee Thara. After a quick discussion with some other men, they led Mabelle back to the rattan chair and prepared to carry her as if on a divan.
“These little men aren’t strong enough to carry me. Make them stop before they drop me.”
Sampson stepped forward to block their lifting the chair, and the men set it down. Pee Thara began speaking quickly and gesticulating; Jasmine interpreted for Luke: “He say they can carry her. Thai men strong.”
Pee Thara bowed his head slightly, placed his hands on Sampson’s shoulders, and gently eased him out of the way.
“Wait a minute,” Sampson said.
The men lifted the chair, placed it on their shoulders, and the women began whooping jubilantly. Despite her protestations, Jasmine could tell by Mabelle’s smiling face that she liked being the center of attention.
Upstairs they placed Mabelle next to the far wall where she remained seated in the chair and Sampson sat on pillows next to her. The monks sat on slightly higher pillows at the front of the living area next to the doors to the bedrooms. Jasmine and Luke sat on the floor in front of the monks, and her family sat behind them.
Jasmine could tell by Mabelle’s expression that she thought the ceremony strange. But Luke had told Jasmine that he was happy not having a traditional church wedding.
On Luke’s first trip to Thailand he fell in love with the Buddhist kingdom. South Korea, the most Christian country in Asia, had not satiated his desire to live in a culture spiritually different from America. But Thailand’s smiling, gentle people, with the temples and monks were what Luke was looking for. Luke’s initial attraction to Buddhism was its calming, meditative quality. Growing up in a house full of hostility, Luke longed for a peaceful environment; but as he grew up, he realized he could not alter his reality, so he delved into Buddhism hoping it could alter him.
To begin the ceremony, Luke pushed their offering—two baskets of toiletries and food—to the monks, who laid their hands on the baskets and began praying in a guttural sing-song tone. Luke recognized the Pali language of Jasmine’s bedtime prayers. He did not understand the words, but their chant made him tingle and he felt as if he was wrapped in an invisible cocoon. When the prayerful chanting ended, Luke placed on a silver plate a stack of new Baht bills that equaled two-thousand American dollars. He slid the plate forward to the monks, who blessed the money.
“What’s the money for, son?”
The monks stopped praying.
All eyes were on Mabelle.
“It’s Jasmine’s dowry.”
“You’re buying her?”
“No. Now please be quiet.”
“I don’t see why…”
“Mother, I’ll explain later.”
Mabelle opened her mouth, but Luke cast fiery eyes at her and she remained silent.
The monks finished praying and Jasmine’s family formed a circle to enact the final prayer that would call the spirits of Jasmine’s and Luke’s ancestors to witness the marriage. Pee Thara was at the center of the circle and the others laid a hand on the next person in the circle so that everyone was linked to him, like concentric circles radiating out from Pee Thara and the marriage couple. The older women who had taken care of Mabelle downstairs placed their hands on her and Sampson. Pee Thara took the bottle of red soda and began pouring it slowly into a ceramic basin; as he poured, the monks and family members started a slow chant.
Jasmine’s skin tingled. She was happy Luke had kept his promise, she was happy Mabelle attended the ceremony, and happy the ceremony took place in her father’s house, where his spirit was strong. As the chant enveloped the upstairs and spread on the wind to the outside, Jasmine recalled the day Luke proposed. They were in their third month of dating; they emailed daily, called occasionally, and Luke came to Thailand every few weeks to spend a few days with her. On the final day of a weekend visit, as they sat in the airport waiting for his return flight to South Korea, Luke took her hand and dropped to one knee. At first, she thought something was wrong with him, but when he looked into her eyes, she recognized his pose from romantic scenes in Hollywood movies. Luke produced a crumpled piece of paper from his shirt pocket, and with poor Thai pronunciation he asked her to marry him. Tears rolled down her cheeks and a smile stretched her face, but then her expression changed. Her grip tightened on his hands and she asked: “Will I have to become Christian?”
“I love you for you. And you are Buddhist. Besides, if I made you become Christian, then I would have to become one.”
Luke’s answer made her happy, but also surprised her. She knew that some farang were interested in Buddhism, but she knew that the majority of farangs were Christian, especially Americans. She wondered how Luke and his mother, with her Christian convictions, got along. She feared that despite what Luke said, his mother would force her to pray to Jesus.
The final part of the wedding ceremony was looking at the innards of a grilled whole chicken to tell whether the union would be blessed. Pee Thara pulled out the neck and began cackling. Jasmine’s eyes brightened and Pee Thara held up the innards to Luke. “It very good, tee rak,” Jasmine said. “Our marriage last long and be happy.”
Luke explained the reading to his mother.
Mabelle painfully rearranged herself in the chair. “But at these weddings, don’t they always say good things?”
“Don’t be negative, Mother.”
Jasmine was dismayed by Mabelle’s comment, but she mollified herself by recalling that this ceremony was foreign to Mabelle. Luke had explained how his mother, for all of her bluster, was a small-town woman who had not travelled. Case in point: When Luke informed his mother of his plan to marry Jasmine, one of Mabelle’s first questions was, “What are her family’s Christmas traditions?”
Luke informed her that Jasmine’s family did not celebrate Christmas.
“They’re not Christian, Mother.”
“They could still celebrate Christmas.”
“Mother, then why don’t you celebrate the Buddha’s birthday?”
“Don’t be ridiculous.”
With that anecdote in mind, Jasmine forgave Mabelle.
Once the ceremony was complete, the final act was for all those in attendance to tie blessing threads around the wrists of Jasmine and Luke. Luke felt overwhelmed as his new in-laws scurried to him on their knees, each wanting to be the first to tie a thread on their farang-in-law. Pee Rum was the first to tie a thread and tell him chokdee—good luck. Pee Thara was second, and after him, Luke saw only a blur of brown smiling faces. Tying the blessing threads took almost an hour, with everyone from the oldest relatives to the youngest taking a turn. When they finally finished, both Jasmine’s and Luke’s wrists were covered with golden colored threads.
“What’s all those threads for, son?”
“So that our marriage will be blessed and we’ll have good luck.”
“Why do you need those? They said that the marriage was lucky when they looked at the chicken.”
“The threads are part of the traditional ceremony.”
“Seems like they will do anything for good luck.”
Once everyone had placed a thread on Jasmine and Luke, most of the people went downstairs to commence the wedding dinner. Jasmine picked up the money they had offered as her dowry and told Luke to place it in his pocket; as he did so, Pee Thara wrinkled his brow before stomping down stairs.
A portable fan was plugged in and placed to blow on Mabelle and Sampson.
“Do I have to go back downstairs, son? It’s so hot out there and that fan feels so good.”
“Stay here, Mom,” Jasmine said. “I will bring you and Sampson some food.”
“After such a primitive life, Jasmine’s going to enjoy living in America.”
“Mother, don’t criticize the way they live, please.”
“But it’s true. People back home stopped living like this a hundred years ago.”
Pee Thara popped his head up from the stairs and called to Jasmine, who walked downstairs with him. Luke stayed with Mabelle and Sampson, and one of the old women, after coming up with a plate of sliced fruit, sat by Mabelle and kept handing her fruit.
“Her skin is so dark,” Mabelle said. “And wrinkled. The grooves in her face must be an inch deep.”
“Mother, could you not talk about the lady who is feeding you?”
“It’s true that you’re being rude.”
“Well she can’t understand what I’m saying.”
“That still doesn’t excuse your behavior.”
“Why are you taking up for these people over your mother?” Sampson asked.
“Because ‘these people’ are generous and caring, yet Mother is belittling them. Excuse me.”
Luke went downstairs and found Jasmine and Pee Thara in a heated conversation behind the house.
“Where is the dowry?” Pee Thara asked.
“Luke will keep the dowry.”
“The dowry is for the family.”
“No. The dowry is for parents, but ours are not alive.”
“I am the only son; I am like Father.”
“You are my brother, not my father. You have a job. You don’t need dowry money.”
“Stupid girl! Other Thai girls marry farang and get big money. You marry farang and get no money.”
Pee Thara raised his hand, Jasmine cowered, and Luke stepped between them. The anger in Pee Thara’s eyes switched to confusion when Luke grabbed his arm.
Pee Thara said haltingly, “This is between sister and me.”
“Your sister is now my wife, so this also concerns me.”
“Tee rak, please let go of his arm.”
“It doesn’t look good if you fight on our wedding day.”
“What doesn’t look good is for your brother to hit you.”
“He did not hit me, tee rak.”
Pee Thara started speaking, but Luke spoke over him in a voice that carried around the house. “I never want to see you raise your hand on Jasmine. I heard you asking for the dowry. Is that money worth more to you than your sister?” Luke released Pee Thara’s arm with a shove that knocked him to the ground.
“He only wanted to carry on our tradition.”
“Then here,” Luke handed Jasmine the money. “If you want him to have it, then you give it to him.”
Luke returned upstairs, taking two steps at a time, and told Mabelle and Sampson that they were leaving.
“You’re not taking up for these people now, are you, son?”
“Every family has a bad apple,” Luke said, helping his mother down the stairs.
The people downstairs ceased talking when Luke and his parents emerged. Luke handed his mother’s arm to Sampson and then he walked behind the house to Jasmine and Pee Thara.
“Give him the dowry so we can leave,” Luke said.
His voice was gravelly and his normally soft-spoken manner was replaced by a thunderous tone. Jasmine had never heard him talk like this.
“I did not want to give my brother the dowry. We discussed that, tee rak.”
“Then let’s go. I am ready to leave.”
“But we haven’t had any food.”
“Fix a plate and bring it with you. We’re returning to Bangkok immediately.”
“Why are you being so mean?” Jasmine asked. “Is this how you are going to be as my husband?”
“I’m not being mean. I am trying to protect you.”
“I do not need you to protect me from my family.”
The others surrounding them broke their silence and Jasmine felt her head swim as they chaotically spoke to her. Luke figured they were telling her to stay here and not go with him, and he saw this moment as a test: if Jasmine would not join him when he was defending her and her honor, then they should not be husband and wife.
Luke took Jasmine’s hand, and she looked at him with startled eyes. He took a deep breath and lowered his voice as he leaned close to her face. “I love you, Jasmine, and you are my wife. You and I are now a family, but if you do not come with me now, we are finished.”
His ultimatum reminded him of the arguments his parents had when he was a young boy when his mother would threaten to leave and return to Louisiana. Since Luke’s words came so easily, he wondered if he had simply paraphrased what he had heard his father tell his mother.
Pee Rum appeared from the crowd and softly took Jasmine’s elbow, pulling her close and speaking into her ear: “Dowry has always been our tradition. You should honor it.”
“A dowry is for parents,” Jasmine said.
“It is for family.”
Pee Rum tightened her grip on Jasmine’s elbow and led her a few feet away from the crowd and Luke. He did not like Pee Rum taking Jasmine away, but he recalled all the dates she chaperoned. Luke hoped her older sister was giving Jasmine good advice.
“Is family more important than my marriage?” Jasmine asked.
“If you don’t marry, family cannot support you.”
“I support myself.”
“But with Luke as your husband, he will support you and take you to America.”
“Do you want to come to America too?”
“No. I am not made for America. But you are.”
“If that is true, then I must start following farang ways.”
When Pee Rum’s tears started, her feet stopped. The sisters held hands, looked each other in the face, and cried. To Jasmine it felt like they cried for hours, until Pee Rum said: “Go to your husband.”
Jasmine walked back to Luke and waved her hands to quiet her family. She spoke, but Luke could not understand her, so he knew she had switched to speaking Khmer. He studied the others’ faces, but each person had a different reaction, and thus he could not infer Jasmine’s meaning. After a few more moments, Jasmine abruptly stopped talking, handed the money to Luke, and walked to Mabelle, whom she led to the van.
At first, Luke wasn’t sure what to make of these gestures. Had she returned the dowry to him to show that they were finished? Was she helping Mabelle to the van as a final polite gesture to the lady who was to have been her mother-in-law? Luke worried that he, like his father, had allowed his temper to get the best of him when he gave Jasmine the ultimatum. He walked to the van. Jasmine’s back was to him as she helped Mabelle into the van, but when she turned around tears streaked her face. Luke feared he had lost his wife mere minutes after marrying.
“Why are you crying, baby?” he asked.
“Because I will miss my family.”
Luke and Jasmine faced the home; she waied to her family and said good-bye. The women in the family rushed forward, but Jasmine held up her hands, palms facing them, and again spoke in Khmer. Her words stopped them and their eyes welled up. In that silent moment, Sampson slipped into the van and sat next to Mabelle. Jasmine turned to Luke, offered him her hand, and they entered the van. Before Luke slid the door closed, Jasmine looked over the crowd. She saw Pee Thara and Pee Rum in the back of the crowd. Pee Thara had not cried and Pee Rum had stopped and dried her eyes.
Feature image by Oberholster Venita from Pixabay
Hardy Jones is a Creole/Cajun educator and author in New Orleans. He is a two-time Pushcart Nominee, the author of the novels Every Bitter Thing, International Love Supreme, the memoir People of the Good God, and the story collection Coconuts and Crawfish. He is the co-author of the memoirs Wal-Mart Girl and When I was a Child. His creative nonfiction has won two grants. His stories were anthologized in the 2009 Dogzplot Flash Fiction Anthology, The Best of Clapboard House Literary Journal, Southern Gothic: New Tales of the South, and Summer Shorts II. He is the co-founder and Executive Editor of the online journal Cybersoleil (www.cybersoleiljournal.com).
His website is www.hardyjoneswriting.com and he is on Twitter @HardyJonesWrite. Hardy splits his time between New Orleans, Louisiana and Si Sa Ket Province Thailand.
Natthinee Khot-asa Jones is a memoirist, novelist, and short story writer publishing in Thai and English. She is a country girl from the Thai side of the Thai-Cambodian border who grew up speaking Cambodian, Thai, and Laotian. In 2001, she graduated from Sophon Business School in Thailand, and later attended the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Auburn University, and the University of New Orleans.
Her Thai publications include the short story “Puppy Love,” published in the 2007 anthology High School Love. The Thai language version of her memoir Wal-Mart Girl was published in 2008 by Nokhook publishing as well as the novel The Heart of Time. Her most recent Thai-language book is the novel February, I Love You. Her most recent English-language works are the memoirs Wal-Mart Girl and When I was a Child, and she is the co-author of the novel International Love Supreme.
Her website is www.natthineeandhardy.com. She is the co-founder and the Webmaster of the online journal Cybersoleil (www.cybersoleiljournal.com).