By Soe Nay Lynn                                               



I know you have been taught to greet people by saying the word ‘Mingalaba’. Forget it. Burmese people never say ‘Mingalaba’ when they greet each other. It is merely a masked and ostentatious word. Some people desperately wanted to be called polite.. It is exactly superficial. Words are deceitful.

People who know the power of words try to set word-traps. Beware of large signboards and billboards. They may be advertisements. They may be stalking-horses. And they may be traps. They are hardly honest. Snakes are snakes though they slough. They have poison and fangs. You should not keep any kind of snakes. The worst thing I think is its forked tongue.                

Some tongues are straight. Some tongues are twisted. Some tongues are sharp. Some tongues are blunt. The most dangerous tongues, I suppose, are tongues of black Coats. Black coats always do as if they were clairvoyants and clairaudients as well. They know what’s happened here and there without moving in their chairs. How wise they are!                

All of a sudden, it rained heavily. I am certain that torn thatched roofs were crying. I saw a small girl beggar run and take shelter under an acacia tree where an old leper beggar had been sleeping. Today you will find more and more beggars, young or old, in the streets. Is this really because of the kindhearted nature of Burmese people? Or because of their greediness for merit? We should make a close study of it.

One of my friends always takes some one kyat notes to offer beggars when he goes to a teashop. No, he is not a rich man. Nor is he a businessman. He is a manager of a state owned timber shop. He is very generous. He simply believes that donations can boost him to Natpyi, the abode of gods and goddesses.

He really doesn’t want to be an animal of any kind. It may be because of his superficial thoughts. In animal world, there is no war. No illegal arrest. No unjust verdicts. No despots. No violation of animal rights. No deliberate torture. As a dog he can even bark or bite anyone who’s kicked him.                 

Death is not so strange. Every living thing must die one day. They are mortal. Whatever  religion people believe they cannot avoid death. But I’ve noticed that most people repeatedly die in their short lives. That is why they love only their physical bodies. Very few people know how to love and what to love. To teach to love only one’s own nation is wrong, I believe. Just yesterday I read Zlata’s Diary. She experienced the worst scenario But I dare not think  all the sufferings of the victims.                  

Generally the minority of people victimize the majority of people. Yes, the minority of people who have weapon-based power. Unfortunately I have forgotten the formula of power in physics. But, here, I will have to admit that I haven’t read many books on physics. One of my ingrained habits is reading.

I always want to read various kinds of books.. But what usually makes me disappointed are blackened or silver ink smeared passages and columns that conceal true words or bitter truth. Those words of truth are always relentlessly being gagged. The taste of being gagged is not palatable. I’m sure.                  

It‘s inarguable that humans like good tastes. Have you ever been to Mr Guitar, the well known coffee shop? Have you ever sipped a cup of Irish coffee? Well, it’s really a day-dream for a person whose monthly salary is 650 kyats. Oh, sorry, my knowledge may be obsolete. I should have known so before that salary is one thing and income is another. What a society!                  

Two men at the table behind me are talking about a heat wave in India. Yet they haven’t noticed the heat wave in their own country. I feel as if I have drifted in that wave. Maybe I have less resistance than they have. Or they might have thick skins.. Suddenly I’ve remembered the nightmare I dreamed last night.

In the nightmare I was tied to a cross and the human-like creatures with thick skins and no backbone around me ridiculed me. Some pelted me with stones. Some even lashed me with thongs. I was sweaty and tired. I must forget it. I cannot make it out. Fortunately, I still haven’t read Freud’s famous book about dreams.

Although I don’t care for dreams, I have really loved and enjoyed some sweet dreams I have had. Personally and admittedly I ever want to be in a sweet dream. I’ve hardly dreamt sweet dreams. Once I was confined in a terrible nightmare.

In that nightmare I had to stay like a dog. I slept on the rough concrete floor withoutbed sheets. No pillow. No blanket. The coldness of the concrete floor was picking my skin. I was catering for giant mosquitoes every night. I was often tied with my hands at my back for many hours. I was fed like a dog. And most of the time I was blindfolded. I had to drink water from a lavatory. The cell I was confined in was very poor in ventilation. It had no window. No urinal. No receptacle for waste matter. No water. Only a 25-watt bulb existed awkwardly.

And the cell itself ceaselessly tortured me. That horrible nightmare lasted sixty days. However hard I try, I will never forget it.                    

Some are very forgetful. They can forget even all the unforgetable. The more they forget, the shorter their height is. You may say that you see a lot of tall people here and there. Yes, you are right. But my word height doesn’t mean stature. As you know words are very deceitful. Soap bubbles cannot last. They are transient.

But the problem is that the transient nature of bubbles is getting abnormal .Today we can see that some soap bubbles have remained for more than thirty years. They are hovering in the atmosphere around us. Sometimes it is difficult to respire. Yet I am surprised to realize that some people have no difficulty to breathe in such an atmosphere. A thin slice of impure air is enough for their respiration systems. Maybe my way of breathing is greatly different from theirs.                    

Indeed, my way of thinking is also tremendously different from those who think the width of the sky is none of their business. No, No, I am quite certain that I am not a claustrophobiac. But, perhaps, I hate walls and iron bars. I suppose you have heard about the Great Wall of China. You’ll even have seen its picture or photograph. Do you think it is wonderful? I’m sure most people think that it is wonderful.

As for me even the idea of it is not extraordinary. I’ve forgotten the name of the king who built the great wall. And I don’t think it is important. Whatever his name was, he was not the man who built the wall. The real builders of the wall were millions of Chinese people who were oppressively dragged to the sites. Who did record their sufferings, tears, sweat, blood, weals and injuries? Who did recognize their pining love, anguish, grief and nostalgia? How many people were sacrificed for the Great Wall? How long had they been shackled? Who knows?

It does not, I believe, deserve to be wonderful. The king had arms, soldiers and power. I found nothing to be wonderful. Whenever I see pictures of the Great Wall I see thousands of people, men and women in chains working laboriously behind the wall and hear their crises of pain and screams of fear.

Soe Nay Lynn
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