Right in the middle of the forest in the dark, where leaves and earth are covered with droplets of water due to the air moisture. The weather gets colder as the night grows. A small house, a forest ranger’s lodging, stands alone at the foot of a hill. There are table and chair, one of each, and some other necessary things, very few of them. Most are gears for forest trekking. There is only a sound of cicadas echoing the area and other than that, everything appears peaceful, until someone shoves the door open.
A dark tall man in a camouflage uniform rushes inside. His dark handsome face shows only seriousness. He’s on his toes feeling afraid that someone might see him. His rough hand, having been through all kind of hardships living in the forest, clutches a brown document envelope to his chest, which is showing how important the thing inside.
PiPob rushes to the phone on his desk, grabs it and dials the number – a direct number to someone. His lips are moving faintly chanting…pick up…just pick up.
For a while, a voice answers. He hurriedly speaks in a shaking voice, unable to control himself.
“I got the evidence, come and get it. Hurry!” He hangs up quickly and looks around for a place to hide the envelope which contains a highly confidential document, he freezes when his eyes caught on a piece of paper, a letter, folding on the table. He’s sure that before he left the house, it’s not there. He picks it up and reads. His instinct is telling him that it’s surely not a good news, and it’s exactly what he thought.
His daughter was taken as hostage!
His big hand crushes the letter furiously. His thick figure runs to the door. He intends to go to the said location on the letter. However, as soon as he comes out of the house, he starts to panic when seeing smoke goes up in the sky from the peak of the mountain.
The dark heavy smoke covers the area of the peak and completely obscures the once rush green scenery. The sea of fire is burning down every tree standing in the way to ashes, and the sound of tree barks breaking due to the fire makes PiPob jump down from his jeep. He dampens a piece of cloth to cover his nose then runs into the forest not paying attention to the strong heat, in order to get to the place the fire broke out as soon as he can, his eyes are moving around searching for someone in a hurry. His ears caught a sound of footsteps of a group of men in a distance. PiPob quickly turns around and unexpectedly finds himself surrounded by five men in black, all wearing gas masks.
One of them steps in front of PiPob. The forest ranger’s eyes open wide when that man takes off his mask showing him his face.
“You…so it’s you…You are Aden!”
The sound of a gunshot echoes through the forest totally covering the sound of breaking barks of trees. One body is lying down still on his beloved land for the longest time…
Sorrow has taken over everyone who is standing around the open ground in the national park. Even though many wearing-black forest rangers are lining up in front of the name plate on the memorial stand, none of them talk and have only sadness in their eyes turning to the engraved phrase on the stone.
“In memory of Mr. PiPob KhunDech, the forest ranger who lost his life on duty, 25 April 2535 (B.E.)”
He’s an honest friend who shared the same ideal…the person who had stood tall and declared to the world that he could sacrifice even his life to protect his much beloved forest and nature.
YingYot is first to step forward to lay a bouquet on the stone, then ThaWon. The two were Pipob’s close friends. They worked together so well as a team that they earned the name The three musketeers of Phu Suang Forest, currently only two left because one is now rest in peace under the ground. YingYot and ThaWon bow their heads down for a while, to pay respect to their friend who passed away for the last time, then walk back to the same spot so others can step in.
The only small one in line is trying to stand still like others even when his eyes are becoming so red. Until now, the child, at the age of 8, still couldn’t believe that his beloved uncle Pipob had only his name left on the stone, and he will never see him again.
ThaWon looks at his son who is standing sadly beside him. He sighs and kneels down to hold both of his small shoulders. The boy’s eyes turn from the memorial stone to him.
“Din, my son, listen to me.” saying in his deep voice. His eyes are gleaming with tenderness and deep sorrow. “Uncle PiPob was a good officer. He loved the land, loved the forest. I believe uncle Pob didn’t regret that he sacrificed his life to protect the things he loved.”
The boy, PaSu, wipes his tears dry before turning to look at the engraved phrase once again with love, longing, and admiration in his eyes, all at once. Then it turns into determination once he turns and his eyes meet with his father’s.
“I want to grow up to be a forest ranger, just like uncle and you, dad.”
ThaWon smiles acknowledging that declaration. No matter how many times died leaves blown away by the wind or fall from the trees, new branches and green leaves will sprout to replace them, just like how his and PiPob’s strong ideal of protecting this forest now been passing on to the next generation.
Novel title: HuaJai Patthapi
The lakorn adaptation is currently in the making, starring Por Thrisadee (as Pasu) and Mike Pirat (as PhuRit). Pasu and PhuRit are buddies working for the National Forest Ranger Department (NFRD). Below is the novel’s cover 🙂
Pictures credit as tagged.