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It’s never too late for a happy surprise

Nina London and Bill Rosser in Thailand (Photograph supplied)

At daybreak, the rising sun sent shafts of light shimmering across the wine-dark waters of the fabled Malacca Strait. The Andaman Sea stretched below us, a deep indigo carpet studded with the rocky peaks of small islands wreathed in morning mist.

One could imagine more than see their jungled shapes, mysterious without lights or signs of villages. We imagined them, outlined in the soft glow, the glossy green canopies hiding secret worlds of orchids and primeval insects.

The whistles of countless birds rose around us on our hilltop and, with a start, we realised we were in a dark cloud of mynah birds, their black, shiny bodies hurtling past us; their long beaks slashes of yellow as they warbled and hooted and shrieked a greeting to the unfolding dawn spreading its golden light across the wild coast of Southern Thailand.

We were back, back to our second home. We were as far away as we could be on this spinning planet; literally on the other side of the world from our beloved Bermuda.

It was a bold move to return so soon. Thailand has been closed to virtually all tourists since we walked out of our house here almost two years ago, never dreaming we would be swept up in the world pandemic with its border closings and the impossibility of going back.

It was a challenge to navigate the many documents and tests needed to acquire a ‘Thailand Pass’, the government’s new entry permit. Then a long and arduous trip from Bermuda, the success of which rested on scrutiny of the printed documents we each carried in fat cardboard file folders.

We could have been turned back at the many checkpoints by the slightest omission, and we arrived stressed, exhausted and in disbelief at our final success.

Bill looked at me as we sat in the quarantine van behind a Plexiglas panel, finally

en route to our hotel. “I feel like I’ve climbed a mountain” was all he said.

But now, six days later, our spirits rose with the calls of the mynah birds and the glowing sun warmed our hearts and faces. I was dreaming for so long to feed my soul with new practices, meditations, movements and knowledge from my world Qi Jong master, Mantak Chia. Soon, I will see him in the mountains far to the north.

The chorus from the mynah birds swelled louder and Bill smiled as he told me this touching love story.

“One Christmas when I was a teenager living at our house in Paget, I spied my stepfather, Olympic swimmer Percy Belvin, furtively placing a large box draped in fabric on the back veranda.

My mother appeared at the screen door and I watched as she cautiously approached him. He could barely contain his excitement. ‘Merry Christmas, my love!’ he thundered, and swept away the curtain.

It was a huge birdcage and swaying back and forth on the perch inside was a gleaming black mynah bird. From its yellow bill issued a string of chortles and songs. Then it piped out, clear as a bell ‘I love you!’ in a voice not far from Percy’s. He almost collapsed with laughter, and my mother’s eyes shone. She broke out in an incredulous smile and fell into his arms.

Mynah birds are wonderful vocal mimics and Percy had secretly taught this one a phrase that echoed through our home for years.”

Merry Christmas, my dear readers! May your holidays be filled with love and romance!

And remember, it’s never too late for a happy surprise!

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Published December 16, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated December 15, 2021 at 12:34 am)

It’s never too late for a happy surprise

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