Author Topic: PC321: Paya Nak  (Read 5192 times)

Talia

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PC321: Paya Nak
« on: July 23, 2014, 07:49:38 PM »
PodCastle 321: Paya Nak

by Benjanun Sriduangkaew

Originally published in Scigentasy. Read it here!

I am dead, and she knows.

My tangled hair does not impede desire. My excavated belly, loose sagging skin, does not make her avert her eyes. Her fingers touch the scars of birth and do not shy away. Her mouth closes over the coldness of my skin and does not spit it out.

I am a ghost, and she does not mind.

There is a thing in the cradle I rock, a lump of flesh, stained in my fluids. This is what killed me. A parasite that took all my food, stole all my breaths, until one day I woke up to find my heart stopped.


Rated R: Contains Death, Ghosts, and Children

Listen to this week’s PodCastle!
« Last Edit: April 19, 2015, 10:30:37 PM by kibitzer »

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Re: PC321: Paya Nak
« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2014, 01:37:37 PM »
I was hoping someone else would've commented by the time I got here.  I don't think I got what the story was going for.  Presumably some metaphor for post-partum depression?  I'll be interested to see what other people say about it.

bounceswoosh

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Re: PC321: Paya Nak
« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2014, 02:33:39 PM »
Why does it have to be a metaphor?
« Last Edit: July 28, 2014, 03:15:28 PM by eytanz »

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Re: PC321: Paya Nak
« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2014, 03:32:16 PM »
I think this story is going to mean something different to everyone.

What I saw was a lesbian who, due to social pressure, has been forced into a hetero marriage. She still has her lover, and her inability to truly love her husband is what makes her a ghost. She's there, but she isn't.

Possibly not the best way to put it, but I'm sure you follow me.

The baby, I think, was her sense of obligation to her marriage. Literally tying her to the life which was oppressing her.

When the aunt says that she will suffer for abandoning the child, I saw that as being told to face her problems and not try to pass them off onto someone else. And I also think she made the right decision in the end and stopped trying to be someone other than she was.

But...

I also saw a lot of the problems I hear of on the Trans forum where I spend most of my online time. The double life, the sense of obligation to the identity you don't want, and of course, the cutting out of what defines you as one thing so that you can become something else.

Incidentally, I do think she loved her husband. But as a friend, not as a lover. And certainly not as a spouse.

Sorry if this is a clumsy post. I surprised myself with my reaction to and empathy with this tale.
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Re: PC321: Paya Nak
« Reply #4 on: July 28, 2014, 04:34:41 PM »
Not clumsy at all - glad it evoked such a strong reaction with you, and thanks for sharing :)

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Re: PC321: Paya Nak
« Reply #5 on: July 28, 2014, 04:55:03 PM »
Why does it have to be a metaphor?

Why does it have to not be a metaphor? 

Anything can be a metaphor, but it seemed to me like this one was built around a metaphor as its core element.  The speculative elements just seemed like they were specifically meant to be metaphors, I guess, especially in how most people couldn't see her but some people good and there was never really a rational for why that would be.  It struck me as a straightup metaphor for some kind of ostracism from society.  I interpreted it as depression-based stigma while suffering postpartum depression.  As well as homosexuality-based stigma.

Normally I wouldn't focus so much on trying to grasp a metaphor rather than just focus on the story at hand, but I think in this case I was having trouble grasping how the speculative elements were supposed to work, and they just seemed kind of inconsistent and hard to follow for me, how she was visible only sometimes with no clear reason why.  So instead of getting really entrenched in the story I was grasping at the metaphor instead.

SpareInch

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Re: PC321: Paya Nak
« Reply #6 on: July 29, 2014, 01:13:01 PM »

Anything can be a metaphor, but it seemed to me like this one was built around a metaphor as its core element.  The speculative elements just seemed like they were specifically meant to be metaphors, I guess, especially in how most people couldn't see her but some people good and there was never really a rational for why that would be.  It struck me as a straightup metaphor for some kind of ostracism from society.  I interpreted it as depression-based stigma while suffering postpartum depression.  As well as homosexuality-based stigma.

Well, I still see this as an LGB story. But I can best share how I interpret the visibility/invisibility thing with a little information from the Trans community. Bear with me...

A Transgendered person can be 'In Drab' (Presenting as male) or 'En Femme' (Presenting as female)

In Drab he (Male pronoun for male persona) uses his birth Name, but when En Femme, she uses her 'Femme Name.' This might simply be a feminised form of her Given or Birth name, but whatever it is, it is usually very important to her in a way most people's names aren't. So do respect it.

Now, let's say you are talking to a TG In Drab, and his Femme Name is Sue. (Sorry for the gender shifting here. We need more words in this language.).  If you wanted to know if his Trans status was known to someone else who might be in the room, you would ask if that person, "Knows about Sue?"

If they don't know about Sue, then as far as that person is concerned, Sue does not, at least not as yet, exist.

I read the visibility issue in just that way. Some people knew the true situation and some did not. And of course, her husband did, but pretended it wasn't so. I find it interesting that it was other members of the community who took action to separate the couple. I saw that as their realising that their friend, the husband, was suffering, and acting to help. As a byproduct, they also helped The Protagonist to move on with her own life. Or un-death, or whatever.

The whole story was perhaps a metaphor for Coming Out Of The Closet. Some people will accept who you really are, but there are always those who, almost literally, won't see the real you.

Again. Don't think I'm saying this is a Trans story. It's just easier for me to unravel it that way.
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Re: PC321: Paya Nak
« Reply #7 on: July 29, 2014, 05:04:37 PM »

Anything can be a metaphor, but it seemed to me like this one was built around a metaphor as its core element.  The speculative elements just seemed like they were specifically meant to be metaphors, I guess, especially in how most people couldn't see her but some people good and there was never really a rational for why that would be.  It struck me as a straightup metaphor for some kind of ostracism from society.  I interpreted it as depression-based stigma while suffering postpartum depression.  As well as homosexuality-based stigma.

Well, I still see this as an LGB story. But I can best share how I interpret the visibility/invisibility thing with a little information from the Trans community. Bear with me...

A Transgendered person can be 'In Drab' (Presenting as male) or 'En Femme' (Presenting as female)

In Drab he (Male pronoun for male persona) uses his birth Name, but when En Femme, she uses her 'Femme Name.' This might simply be a feminised form of her Given or Birth name, but whatever it is, it is usually very important to her in a way most people's names aren't. So do respect it.

Now, let's say you are talking to a TG In Drab, and his Femme Name is Sue. (Sorry for the gender shifting here. We need more words in this language.).  If you wanted to know if his Trans status was known to someone else who might be in the room, you would ask if that person, "Knows about Sue?"

If they don't know about Sue, then as far as that person is concerned, Sue does not, at least not as yet, exist.

I read the visibility issue in just that way. Some people knew the true situation and some did not. And of course, her husband did, but pretended it wasn't so. I find it interesting that it was other members of the community who took action to separate the couple. I saw that as their realising that their friend, the husband, was suffering, and acting to help. As a byproduct, they also helped The Protagonist to move on with her own life. Or un-death, or whatever.

The whole story was perhaps a metaphor for Coming Out Of The Closet. Some people will accept who you really are, but there are always those who, almost literally, won't see the real you.

Again. Don't think I'm saying this is a Trans story. It's just easier for me to unravel it that way.

Thanks for the thoughts!  I do hope you stick around the forum for a long time. I am enjoying your thoughtful posts.   ;D

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Re: PC321: Paya Nak
« Reply #8 on: July 30, 2014, 11:36:49 PM »
My chief problem with this piece was just waiting for the story to start. There was a lot of atmosphere for not really enough payoff.

Nothing wrong with the atmosphere or the setting or our main character (who's in a tragic situation), it just… didn't move.

Maybe I'm just immune to ghost stories.

SpareInch

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Re: PC321: Paya Nak
« Reply #9 on: July 31, 2014, 08:51:56 AM »
My chief problem with this piece was just waiting for the story to start. There was a lot of atmosphere for not really enough payoff.

Nothing wrong with the atmosphere or the setting or our main character (who's in a tragic situation), it just… didn't move.

Maybe I'm just immune to ghost stories.

I can see that. A once upon a time me would have agreed with you. But like I said, I think it's about coming out of The Closet, and I've done a bit of that.

I could feel for the protagonist, and I saw a lot of internal conflict which she had to resolve, and a huge personal journey being made.

I could happily repeat everything I already said, but I'll try to control myself.

This is a story about a woman who has suppressed her sexual identity in order to fit in with her society, but during her husband's absence she has begun to come to the conclusion that she doesn't want to live the lie any more.

That's an easy decision to make, but believe me, knowing it could hurt the people you care about makes it a hard one to act upon.

Bit by bit she tears herself away from her obligation to everyone else and begins to live the life which makes her happy.

As I said before, I saw The Baby as representing that obligation, and when she finally decides to come right out and live openly as a Lesbian, The Baby vanishes.

At least, I think that cutting out her womb and becoming the spirit of the river was about that. It is pretty hard to ignore a river, after all.

I could really understand what she was going through and how she was feeling, and there is a time of inertia with coming out where you are torn between doing what is easy, conforming with everyone's expectations and hurting yourself, and making the next step towards revealing your true self to the world, and maybe hurting your friends and family. It might only happen once, or many times, it might be a brief moment  of indecision or a long period of soul searching, but if you have a closet to come out of, you will go through it. I thought this story showed that beautifully.

There was a story there, but it does seem like not everyone could really feel it.

Still, if literature never challenged us, what use would it be?
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Devoted135

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Re: PC321: Paya Nak
« Reply #10 on: August 08, 2014, 03:01:11 AM »
I didn't really think about any deeper metaphors until I read this thread, but then again I didn't notice the cancer metaphor in the story that Graham read a while back until it was pointed out to me... Sometimes I can be pretty dense. ::)

The atmosphere was sufficiently creepy for this being a ghost story, and also the descriptions were just specific enough to really gross me out at a few points. I guess that's a compliment in this case? Poor Nina Shaharuddin, she gets all the weirdest stories to read for PodCastle. :P

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Re: PC321: Paya Nak
« Reply #11 on: August 08, 2014, 08:50:14 PM »
Poor Nina Shaharuddin, she gets all the weirdest stories to read for PodCastle. :P

WHAT?!?! I was an EASTER WEREWOLF!!!

 :D

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Re: PC321: Paya Nak
« Reply #12 on: August 09, 2014, 04:52:34 AM »
Poor Nina Shaharuddin, she gets all the weirdest stories to read for PodCastle. :P

WHAT?!?! I was an EASTER WEREWOLF!!!

 :D

Haha! I wonder what it says that I thought that wasn't weird at all?? :P ;D

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Re: PC321: Paya Nak
« Reply #13 on: August 10, 2014, 12:14:20 AM »
WHAT?!?! I was an EASTER WEREWOLF!!!

 :D

See Dave, now you just sound like a B movie title. :)

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Re: PC321: Paya Nak
« Reply #14 on: August 10, 2014, 12:22:17 AM »
Poor Nina Shaharuddin, she gets all the weirdest stories to read for PodCastle. :P

WHAT?!?! I was an EASTER WEREWOLF!!!

 :D

What do you mean "was"?! Only at the full moon? :D
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InfiniteMonkey

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Re: PC321: Paya Nak
« Reply #15 on: August 11, 2014, 11:21:03 PM »
Poor Nina Shaharuddin, she gets all the weirdest stories to read for PodCastle. :P

WHAT?!?! I was an EASTER WEREWOLF!!!

 :D

The title for your as yet unpublished autobiography?  :-)

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Re: PC321: Paya Nak
« Reply #16 on: August 28, 2014, 03:19:13 AM »
I'm not one for pulling deeper meanings and metaphors out of stories.
pretty sure the intro said it was a retelling of a folk story.
I liked it, I felt very present during the whole tale, the baby was right creepy.
may I never die with child.

Gary

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Re: PC321: Paya Nak
« Reply #17 on: September 08, 2014, 07:03:34 PM »
I found this one a little challanging to follow.
This story combined a very rich and atmospheric narrative with a narrator who had a very thick and difficult accent. While I enjoyed the story, the combination of those two elements fighting for my concentration reduced my comprehension and enjoyment of the tale itself.
Having to concentrate so hard to understand the words, I'm afraid there were bits of the story where I didn't quite follow what was going on. Sort of like what happens when you focus to closely on a Seurat painting.

Don't get me wrong though, I DO like a story appropriate accent. Just might save those narrations for stories with a little less, dense imagry?


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Re: PC321: Paya Nak
« Reply #18 on: September 09, 2014, 09:50:33 AM »
I found this one a little challanging to follow.
This story combined a very rich and atmospheric narrative with a narrator who had a very thick and difficult accent. While I enjoyed the story, the combination of those two elements fighting for my concentration reduced my comprehension and enjoyment of the tale itself.
Having to concentrate so hard to understand the words, I'm afraid there were bits of the story where I didn't quite follow what was going on. Sort of like what happens when you focus to closely on a Seurat painting.

Don't get me wrong though, I DO like a story appropriate accent. Just might save those narrations for stories with a little less, dense imagry?



I don't recall having any such problem myself. Perhaps all those telemarketing calls I get from Southern Asian call centres has helped me to get my ear in.
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Gary

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Re: PC321: Paya Nak
« Reply #19 on: September 09, 2014, 02:21:28 PM »
I was about to say "Aha! I great new idea for a story ... ghosts trapped, and used as telemarketing slaves!" ... then I remembered there WAS a story some time back (maybe escape pod?) about a future in which banks would re-animate the dead as zombies who would then work the call centers in their collections department until the deceased's debts had been paid off.