Saturday, February 09, 2008

Real-life drama flies high



A PREGNANT stewardess catches her pilot husband in a rendezvous with his mistress. The wife snatches the other woman’s handphone and hurls it into a pond. Incensed, the mistress, who is a flight attendant, slaps her rival.

The scene is from:

A) Thai soap opera.

B) Real life.

C) All of the above.

The answer is B. It is a snapshot from the life of 45-year-old retired Thai Airways cabin crew Royreudee Kenny.

The answer could also be C as Royreudee’s semi-autobiographical novel is the inspiration for Thailand’s steamy soap opera Songkram Nang Fah (The Air Hostess War).

However, although the soap opera has scenes of stewardesses slapping each other over a two-timing pilot, the producer has no plans to include this particular catfight.

The soap opera bubbled into controversy on Jan 21 when flight attendant representatives of Thai Airways and Bangkok Airways urged the Thai government to axe the primetime drama series because it showed stewardess wearing short skirts and fighting while in uniform.

In July 2006, under the pseudonym Airky (a combination of “air” and “ky”, which sounds like the Thai word for “old”), Royreudee posted her life story in, a popular Thai websites, to fulfil her dream of becoming a writer.

The granddaughter of renowned Thai novelist Por Indrapalit also felt she was mature enough to write about her life without being ashamed of it.

Her Internet postings became an instant hit in Thailand. And in March 2007 she published her postings as a 135 baht (RM14) novel titled Cheewit Rantod – Ruangjing Phan Comp (The Melancholic Life – A True Story from the Computer).

The 200-page bestseller, which is 95% based on Royreudee’s life, tells the story of a 21-year-old innocent stewardess “Rin” who falls in love with “Ning”, a tall, dark and handsome pilot, in January 1981. Four years later, Ning marries Rin because of an unplanned pregnancy.

In their 15-year marriage, Ning was notorious in Thai Airways for his extra-marital affairs with stewardesses. One of his gigs (Thai slang for part-time lover), “Cherry”, was so passionately in love with him that she set out to destroy his marriage.

For example, whenever Ning was out flying, Cherry would drive to the couple’s house to shout, “I wish you and your baby will die. I wish your baby will have no hair, no ears and no heart,” to Rin who was into her second pregnancy.

In 1995, Cherry, then Ning’s mistress, phoned Rin to tell her about her rendezvous with the pilot. It was then that the six-month pregnant wife rushed to confront them.

“I hurled her handphone into the pond. She tried to slap me but missed. Then she bit me,” Royreudee relates, showing a 13-year-old scar on her left hand. “My husband was restraining me so I spat at her but missed.”

That night Rin was hospitalised as the catfight caused complications to her pregnancy.

After three weeks in hospital, Rin received a phone call from the mistress who hissed: “Hey pitiful woman, how I wish you and your baby would die. Anyway I pity you so I’ve sent your husband to visit you for a while. He is wearing a white polo shirt and in five minutes he will be in your room.”

At that moment Ning entered the hospital room wearing a white polo shirt. Rin sprang from the bed and shoved a table at him. He slapped her, causing her to collapse to the floor.

That night Rin had a miscarriage. After losing her baby, she did not talk to anyone for two years. And she had to seek psychiatric help.

Finally, Rin divorced Ning in 1996, keeping custody of their two children. Two years ago, Ning married his 40-something mistress Cherry and they have a one-year-old child.

“He is still flirting with younger flight attendants. I know as I still have friends in Thai Airways,” relates the former stewardess who quit flying in 1995. “The destroyer is still chasing these girls to destroy them.”

What’s her take on Songkram Nang Fah which premiered on Jan 14?

“It was as if I was watching a soap opera and not my life,” says Royreudee, with a smile. “Many things (in the series) are different from my life.”

(Published in The Star on Feb 9, 2008, in The Nation on Feb 13, 2008 and AsiaNews on Feb 15-21, 2008)