Ugly Pages Of Ours (III)
By Soe Nay Lynn


Part [Three]

By nature I am not very sociable. And I am not certain that sociability is a good thing. I believe that it is not necessary to be friendly with good-for-nothing people. Fortunately I am congenitally good at physiognomy. Sometimes a glimpse is enough to judge a person’s mind generally.

Unfortunately I have inevitably been acquainted with U Oat Soe, a retired army major. This is because I don’t possess a suitable place for my small bakery and he owns a flat near the market place. Fortuitously one of my friends who had run a photo studio, closed it and returned the room to U Oat Soe.

Knowing this before the shop closed, I managed to get it for rent. Besides the deposit money, I had to give U Oat Soemy patient, involuntary listening to his perpetual bombastic talking. The trouble is that he thinks he knows almost everything. I constantly try to avoid that sort of people. But now I have come to know that it is impossible.

They are ubiquitous. Since I first visited his house, I noticed that he keeps many birds and dogs. My agreeable nods and smiles seemed to make him pleased. He invited me to visit him when I was free. I think, I nodded again as I had no alternative.

Ever since I have never tried to visit him. In accordance with our agreement I paid the rent altogether for one year. I therefore, need to go and meet him only once a year. That is why I willingly agreed to his proposal.

However clever I could manage to be escaping from visiting him, one day I was cornered at a wedding ceremony and forced to accept U Oat Soe’s invitation. He took me to his house with his Toyota S.E 1.5. His wife hospitably welcomed and treated me with coffee and delicious homemade snacks.

Meanwhile U Oat Soe was continuously blowing his own trumpet. As a matter of fact I felt disappointed but I had to pretend not to be. His gas lasted for nearly forty-five minutes and I had to nod and nod.

Then he showed me his birds. Birdcages were orderly placed on a long shelf along the wall. I saw many birds of various feathers. But I knew only parrots and starlings. I had never seen some of the birds and he was very proud of his knowledge about birds. Some birds were fluttering in their cages, twittering.

While he was explaining about his birds, I was thinking about the nature of their freedom, their feelings and their solitude. Birds must fly in the open air. Suddenly he held my arm and stopped me in front of a cage.

In that cage there was a large parrot. He fed it some beans. He smiled and waited. After eating some beans the parrot the fluttered and uttered ‘I love U Oat Soe, I love you U Oat Soe.’ I concealed my surprise in time.

U Oat Soe looked at me and laughed. He seemed to be very pleased. Then he led me to a cage where there was a starling. He showed it some beans on his palm. The starling spoke clearly. ‘I love U Oat Soe. Long live U Oat Soe.’ I was surprised again. And he laughed again.

Look, U Ye Khaing, even birds love me” he said and smiled complacently. I immediately knew that he was insane to some extent. But as a polite person I did not reveal my thoughts about him. I really didn’t want to hurt his feelings. Smiling is my favourite response. Yet he did not seem to be pleased with my agreeable smile. ‘You are interested in birds, aren’t you? “What do you think of my birds?” he asked me.

His question provoked my candidness and I answered. “I am also interested in birds. They can even speak but I think their natural language is more interesting and sweet. I can’t imagine why humans want to catch them and put them in cages.

Birds have wings to fly. We should let them fly. Birds and sky glorify each other. “ U Oat Soe was silent for a while. Then he said “ But U Ye Khaing, we give them shelter and food. They don’t need to worry for their food. I always feed them good food. And they have no danger in their cages. No predators.

They are very safe in their cages.” I was listening to him smiling. As he was speaking to me I avoided looking at his bird cages. I always feel sorry whenever I see caged birds. I can’t bear their being confined. When U Oat Soe made a pause, I ceased my smiling and started my arguments.

Do you think food and shelter are the most important things for birds, U Oat Soe?” “Well, maybe, but there are many things that remain, I think. For instance their instinctive flying activity and their mating habits. And don’t think they have been living happily in your small cages. I’m certain that no living thing wants to be confined. U Oat Soe.

You keep birds for your own pleasure. In other words you keep them for your growing ego. You may talk as if you were a saviour. But I don’t believe so, U Oat Soe. What do you think about their freedom? You’d better see that there are many things as important as food and shelter for living things. Be considerate U Oat Soe.U Oat Soe smiled and shook his head.

Then he said slowly, “Although your way of thinking is different from mine, I’m very interested in it. My belief is that I give them food and shelter. And I always look after them. I take good care of their health. Therefore they in turn must obey my orders and make me feel happy.

Their brain level is low. And freedom, I think, is not very important for them.” He paused. But before he continued his words I pretended to remember something to do and swiftly left his house. On my way back to my house I looked at the sky as if I had escaped from hell. I felt my heart throbbing.

Iknow that frequent throbbing is not good for my health. Yet I am unable to restrain my heart whenever I am confronted with a person who tries to treat humans or living things as tokens, statistics or pawns. As a matter of fact such kind of people are crackpot.

They usually use religion to conceal their virulent egoism for they are clever enough to know the weaknesses of people. And they have a satisfactory record of results from their century-long pretext.

Days and nights seem to be drawn out, I know very little about global warming. But the temperature of the atmosphere around us is getting higher and higher. As for me I feel as if I were being boiled. As you know, any doctor can easily reduce a high body temperature. It is nothing. The trouble is that anxiety, worry, fear, regretfulness, tenterhooks and indignation can also produce intense heat.

And consequently they can make a high body temperature. Who can lower that temperature? By means of No, No, I do believe it is an individual way out. How can it be? How can I neglect injustice, maltreatment, malpractice, cruelty, misuse of power and corruption?

I often have high body temperature not because of bodily sickness but because of indignation. In fact ozone depletion and ecological violations are not major causes of global warming. What’s your opinion?

Soe Nay Lynn
* Note: Ugly Pages of Ours: (Part 3 of 8).

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