CHIANG RAI

My latest post, The Broken Dandelion, dates back to two years ago. I have not written anything since then because I have been engaged in writing my third book, A Hidden Sicilian History. Now I am here again to write down something interesting in my blog.

I am in Chiang Rai (Northern Thailand), in the countryside near a hot spring, called Pong Phrabat. The spring water is hot and smells of sulfur. It is said that it has healing properties, including the treatment of skin diseases.

A small spa with about ten bathtubs has been built on the site. In the early morning my wife and I use to lower ourselves into one of the womb-shaped bathtubs and relax in the water.

Lazing in the healing water, I recalled a friend of mine who suffers from a skin disease called vitiligo. It is non-contagious and not dangerous for body health, but it causes quite a few problems of aesthetic nature. It is characterized by loss of skin pigment and unsightly white blotches in the hands, face and other body parts. The renowned star Michael Jackson suffered from vitiligo. For this reason his skin lost its natural black color and turned white.

One day, surfing the internet I came across a book written by a guy who claimed to have gotten over his vitiligo. In the book you could find the rules and instructions to follow until complete healing. It was written in English. I was happy to have found a remedy for my friend, so I translated it into Italian – the language spoken by my friend – and presented him with the translated book.

I have found this book for you!” I said.

Thank you!” he answered, “I’ll read it, but I am convinced that vililigo is incurable. In fact, I have been hospitalized in a specialist clinic of Rome, which is advanced for the treatment of skin diseases. The doctors’ opinion was unanimous: there is no cure for vitiligo.”

Six months elapsed. Hence, I asked my friend if everything was OK. “Did you follow the instructions in the book I gave you?”

Not much! As I told you vitiligo has no cure.”

Okay, do as you like!” I said, “but allow me to tell you an old story I heard some time ago.”

Once upon a time, in a faraway land there was a rich merchant. He was very fond of his wife and child. Nevertheless, he often moved from one country to another to sell his goods, and had to stay away from his beloved family for long periods.”

While he was trading abroad, pillagers burst into his house. They killed his wife and abducted his child.”

A month passed, and the merchant went back home. In the courtyard he found a little human body, which was charred and unidentifiable, but he was sure that it was his son’s dead body. He picked up the little corpse, put it into a box and prayed in front of it every day.”

Fifteen years went by. In the meanwhile, his son succeeded in escaping from his abductors and returned home one night. He knocked on the main door and besought his parent to open it, but his father was unshakable; he was convinced that his son was the charred little body that he had found in the courtyard long time ago, and now his real son seemed to him to be a robber. He didn’t open the door. His son knocked and knocked until he gave up and went away.”

The moral of the tale is intuitive: we humans cling to fixed ideas, which we erroneously believe to be absolute truth. Sometimes, we had better open our mind, trying alternative ways, leaving aside prejudice and preconceived ideas.

Ettore Grillo, author of A Hidden Sicilian History

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