A Thai mother who was lost for 25 years after catching the wrong bus home has spoken of her ordeal after being reunited with her family thanks to simple song. The last time Jaeyaena Beuraheng saw her seven children was in 1982 when she left south Thailand on one of her shopping trips across the border to nearby Malaysia.
She never returned, and police later told her family that she had apparently been killed in a traffic accident. In fact, Jaeyaena had taken the wrong bus home - an error that would have been easy to fix except that she only speaks the local dialect of Malay known as Yawi, according to officials at the homeless shelter where the 76-year-old has lived for two decades.
“I didn’t tell anybody where I was going on that day, because I went there quite often,” she said. She mistakenly hopped on a bus to Bangkok, some 1,150 kilometers north of her home in Narathiwat province. In Bangkok, unable to read Thai and speaking a language few Thais can understand, she again took a wrong bus, this time to Chiang Mai, another 700 kilometers further north.
There she ended up as a beggar for five years, until she was sent to a homeless shelter in the central Thai province of Phitsanulok in 1987. “I thought I would die in Phitsanulok. I thought about running away many times, but then I worried I would not be able to make it home. I really missed my children,” Jaeyaena said. But still no one could understand her, until last week when three health students from Narathiwat arrived on an exchange program.
She sang a song for the visitors, one that the staff at the shelter had often heard but did not understand – but the students did. “So we asked them to talk to her and find out if she had relatives,” an official said. Her shocked family sent her youngest son and her eldest daughter to meet her and bring her home on Tuesday.
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