Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Ma Thein Shin - Chapter Three

(On 6 January 1966 General Ne Win’s Revolutionary Council's Socialist Government stupidly prohibited the civilian populace from transporting, storing, distributing, and trading of 460 basic commodities including the staples such as rice, peanut-oil, and salt. Hta-nyet (jaggery) was one of those restricted commodities and a large scale smuggling trade of Hta-nyet had developed overnight in Middle Burma where most of it is produced.)

Year 1968

Next days I would find her at her usual waiting place underneath the big Banyan tree.

She would sit at the seat by U Kaung Zone’s Shop and look out for me as the train came in. Even in the blurry-dawn I could detect the shadows of smiles on her happy round face. But once she was on the train she wouldn’t wait for me at the doorway. Instead she would avoid me by disappearing inside where the passengers were once I came up to her car.

I would just end up at the doorway while grudgingly smiling at her. From among the passengers she would turn her face a bit and try to catch a glimpse of me. If I caught her looking at me and winked back at her she immediately turned her face away from me.

When the Train stopped at her station she would just rush off among the disembarking passengers. Only when she was at distance she would turn round and sort of smile at me and then disappear.

I couldn’t find the opportunity to talk to her alone. But I also didn’t really try to create that opportunity. Seeing her from a distance and remotely loving her was a great thing happening endlessly back then, I reckoned.

Only once in a while when we rushed past each other on the crowded train or on a platform I whispered to her, “I love you!”

Her face would suddenly blush whenever I said that and I thought her little round face was more attractive and prettier then. Whenever I went and sat beside her the same thing would happen. Usually I would sit beside her on the evening trains when only few passengers were on the train.


When the train reached Shwe-pan-bin and if I’d finished my books I used to move to the car where she normally would be. Once I was near her she wouldn’t look at me but turn her face to the window.

I would drop my books between her and me. While taking off my uniform tie and folding it I would try to look at her face. Blushed and thickened with shyness and excitement her little round face, I thought, was the prettiest at her best.

Her big eyes looking out the window were the brightest and her pinkish cheeks were puffed to the most as the pale rays of the evening sunset had shined her perfectly round face. I didn’t say anything to her and she didn’t too. She didn’t even turn back and look at me.

Sometimes until the train hit Myo-lu-lin and she went off home we didn’t say a single word to each other.

But I still thought that unspoken silence was most mind-pleasing for me. I imagined I could hear her heartbeats. I believed we didn’t need to speak to each other as we knew that our loves from insides were becoming one eternal love altogether.   

I didn’t think we could express our loves even in a million words.

One day we sat face to face on the train and we both stared at outside. Then I felt like teasing her so that she would talk back to me.

Instead of talking back to me she tried to behave as if she didn’t hear me at all by covering her ears with her handkerchief at the same time keeping a pretend-straight face. But I could see the shadow of smiles on her blushed face. There was a shade of smiles on her tightly-sealed lips too.

“I really mean this,” I raised my voice.

“If I have to marry a woman I’ll only marry the one I really love and she is to be really pretty and much younger than me. She must be able not to smile even if she really wants to smile and she must also be able to keep a straight face for a very long time on this train.
“But once we get married I will beat her up after asking why she kept pretending that she didn’t want to talk to me, why she wouldn’t say that she really loves me, and why she ran away into the crowd just to avoid me whenever she saw me.
“At least three times every day I’ll beat her up. Once before bed, once after getting out off bed, and once after every meal. Pretending she didn’t hear me talking right in front of her by covering up her ears?  All the behavior of a bad woman? Maybe she even thought her flesh would come off if I came near her.
“The woman I am to marry must have a perfectly round face and she must have a very fair complexion.
“Okay, now you speak to me or I will yell out aloud!”

I had to laugh out at her while staring at her without a wink. But the train’s grind and the loud laughter from a group of passengers nearby had drowned out my laughter. She removed the handkerchief from her ears while giving me the evil eyes.

“Okay, yell it really loud!” challenged her and I immediately bent forward closer to her.
“I love you so much. You are really pretty. Day by day you’re getting prettier and prettier. Just looking at you makes me exhausted now!”

She just moved her face away from me and the window and pushed her back on the back-rest of the seat. That position forced her to lift her chin up and placed her round face in the pale red rays of sunset coming through the window. The slowly fading rays had painted her face golden yellow and her beauty was like a delicate sculpture.

I was happier despite she hadn’t given me a chance to talk to her.

So I just moved my lips in silence saying I love you, I love you. First she just stared at me as if she didn’t understand what I was saying in silence. She tried to copy my lips and then realized what I was saying and laughed at me while covering her mouth so that I wouldn’t see her laughing with delight. But she immediately stopped laughing and desperately put her straight face back on and ignored me again.

What she was doing intentionally would really get inside of me and when back at home in evenings I could still recall her acts and keep on remembering her even in the bed at nights. Sometimes I would dream of marrying her and starting a home and family.

But I had to suppress that dreaming thoughts as I still could not figure out how I was going to achieve that dream. The truth was that she was taking care of her family and I also had the heavy responsibility of my parents and siblings back home away from this area.

But the attachment between two of us was getting stronger and stronger as the water flowing in a flooding river. She might have felt the same as me and later she herself created an opportunity for me so that we could talk.


That day on her way back home from Myo-thit bazaar she came out and stood alone by the toilet at the doorway as the train was leaving the station. I just sauntered there and stood right behind her so that she wouldn’t be able to go back inside the carriage.

She knew I was right behind her but she still ignored me. It was just before sunset and the light outside was getting paler and paler as I stood still there very close to her for a while. In my mind I really felt like we were alone in this universe. And my body was warming up with excitement by just being right behind her almost touching her. We were so close I even imagined of hearing her heartbeats.

She was staring outside at the rushing plots of farmlands. The rain droplets from the end-of-season drizzles riding the wind were falling on us standing at the open doorway as I was   slowly breathing in the moisture-laden air.

As the train had crossed the long Pa-lin-chaung rail bridge I couldn’t control myself anymore and lowered my head and started kissing slowly her exposed neck from behind. Underneath the bridge the creek waters were gently flowing past round the bridge columns. I gently held her shoulders in my hands. 

“I love you. I really love you. You love me too? You do love me? You must love me!” I whispered into her ears.

She wiggled her shoulders out of my hold and turned around and looked up at my face. I let go of myself by holding her tight and took her light body into my embrace.

“Let me go, let me go, please let me go!” said she in a shaky voice as she was suddenly struggling to get out of my tight hold.

I could hear her actual heartbeats now. I had to let her go as she was struggling real hard. But I still blocked her from going back inside the car. Then I had a horrible feeling that she was again thinking that I was just trying to violate her a very young innocent woman.

“You can’t do that to me. If you really love me you should know you can’t do that, okay. This is bullying by a ticket-inspector. Why didn’t you think of it?”

Not only her voice was shaken her eyes were full of tears by then. And I couldn’t smile and laugh at her anymore as her strong words were really hurting me.

“No, no, it wasn’t like that. I didn’t mean it that way!” I just tried to apologize.
“So, don’t do it again. Move!”

She then suddenly pushed me off from her and while I was staring at her she just walked round me and towards the inside of the car. Only when she was completely clear of me she stopped and turned around and faced me. We were now in the narrow corridor just outside the toilets.

Face to face we ended up looking at each other for a while. I was glad that the shadows of anger and upset on her face were slowly disappearing. And slowly the smiles had come back onto her face.

“You,  ,you’re really bad!” She whispered while still smiling at me. After that she slowly turned around and walked back inside where the other passengers were.


(Prominent Burmese writer and poet Naing Win Swe (1940-1995) was killed in a jungle on Thai Border in 1995 by Burmese Army after he took to the jungle in the aftermath of failed 8-8-88 Uprising.

The legend is that, as he lay dead on the battleground his comrades picked wild flowers and covered his remains with the flowers before they retreated as they didn’t have enough time to bury him.

This fictionalized semi-autobiographical novel vividly depicts the utter sufferings of a society under the brutal Socialist System as both the rulers and the ruled become the hapless victims of that Evil Ideology called Socialism where State Controls almost everything and People Starve.)