By Diana Zaw Win
Summer 2021 Issue
Pictured above: Myanmar, 2014 by Mána Hjörleifsdóttir Taylor
On February 1st, 2021 in Burma (Myanmar), the military orchestrated a coup d’état by overthrowing the legitimately elected civilian government by force. The country rose up in protest and the Spring Revolution begun. At the time of writing, over 600 unarmed citizens have been murdered by the terrorist Burmese military. This collection of monologues is one Burmese person’s thoughts during this dark time. In order to fully understand the contexts behind each monologue, please look into #whatshappeninginmyanmar.
I have always believed that I was born to be someone special. Like a destiny or a calling. I feel I am always awake. Perhaps that is how one feels to be alive.
I have too much pride to admit that my dreams are broken. I would rather say I threw them away instead.
I joked to my boyfriend on video-call that I have had enough of thriller/horror movies for a lifetime. I am currently living it. They just released 23,000 prisoners. Drugged them and paid them to do arson, murder and rob our neighborhoods.
Yangon didn’t sleep that night. Yangon couldn’t. It was 30°C but I have never felt that cold in my life.
Our government wants us dead? They released bio-weapons to kill us in the night. Am I human? Are they human?
I spent years tackling decolonization theory during college, and during the recent years, Burma was making progress.
One of my first thoughts during the first moments of the coup is that I don’t want my country to be some tragic case-study in a college political science seminar. I don’t want to be picked apart and analyzed. I don’t want the concern. I don’t want the pity.
My friends in hushed voices talked about fighting back. About making weapons. About assassinations. Everyone’s blood was boiling that night. Kyal Sin had just died of a bullet to her neck in Mandalay.
My friends talked of fighting back. I said in my head, “If I lose any one of you. My heart will break and will never recover.”
“So how are you guys going to take down the bad guys?” asked an international friend through Instagram message. I wonder if he thinks I have the time and energy to water down and explain to him all the tactics we have been using to fight this evil in a few text messages. No, I am exhausted and Google exists.
My boyfriend is from mainland China. The Burma-China relationship during this period has become very very bad.
And after every insensitive statement from CCP, it isn’t fair but I lash out at him. But I also do that to give him a taste of what to expect if he wants to marry me. Because I don’t plan to leave Burma.
I wondered what kind of a conversation Aung San Suu Kyi had with her husband, Michael Aris, when she decided to stay in Burma and to stand with the people.
Did they talk about the future of their kids? Was Aris angry when the subject was first brought up? What was Suu Kyi feeling? Did she need a hug?
Before the coup, I’ve always wanted three kids. My brother and I were the only siblings so when we fight, it’s brutal. I’ve always wondered if there were three of us, which side will the third person take.
Now, I frequently have thoughts about never marrying and never having kids. That I want to end this karma with me. I don’t want to bring new life into this dark dark world I’m in right now.
My boyfriend gets very sad when I say these things.
In a world like this, even something as simple as receiving the COVID-19 vaccine becomes political. The military terrorists have seized Aung San Suu Kyi’s hard-earned vaccines and are distributing them amongst themselves.
Several close and distant friends and relatives asked us if we wanted the vaccine. When I first heard the offer, my blood boiled.
Those vaccines are stolen from the people and the vulnerable. If we take it, we will be cursed forever.
A friend from college showed his support for Burma through his Instagram story: “#whatshappeninginmyanmar #fuckthecoup.” The next story was of him being high.
I am thankful for the support. But, I was also offended. These days, when I check social media, my friends from college seem to be living in a different universe from me. And I’m mad at everyone.
“Sometimes I want to run away,” he said, “Maybe to Cambodia. I have friends there. I get so depressed thinking about these every night.”
“Come live at my house,” I said, “We still have Wi-Fi here.”
“Yeah. Let me clean up the house here. I’ll come the second week of April. I’ll come before the war begins.”
There is a Golden Boy at the Art Institute of Chicago.
He has been a darling friend.
My boyfriend and I always talk about where we want to raise our kids. I am fine with the kids being Chinese citizens.
But for primary education, I say Burma. I want my kids to go to government school like I did. I need them to know the language and culture well. The Burmese language is one of the most difficult and most beautiful in the world. Merely living in Burma is not enough. One needs to know the slangs, the attitudes, the drama. So, public school!
English is easy and it’ll come naturally. And there are always proper classes for Mandarin. Burmese. Well, Burmese is difficult.
“Where do you stand on the issue of staying or leaving the country?” my cousin asked, “Our parents are encouraging us that we leave and we should.”
For one, having the option to leave itself is a massive privilege.
“What good is a good education if one can’t contribute to the good?” I said, “People have died now. Why read those dense socio-political books if one is not going to help make things better? If you’re going to stimulate your brain for fun with political problems, then it’s just political porn.”
I like my cousin. But if he decides to leave, I will wish him well but swear to his face.
“Everything is possible if you believe,” she said. She’s Christian. “Even if you’re not Christian, when you’re in some kind of trouble. Just believe in Him. That He exists. And believe that everything will go just right. I mean, what’s there to lose if you’re desperate, right? I believe.”
I am Buddhist. We believe in karma and effort. But I believe in Him as well.
It has been raining for three days straight now. As a person from Burma, I like the rain. I like the smell of the earth and the sound of rustling leaves in the wind. But ever since the coup, the sound of the rain is too similar to the sound of military trucks and soldiers dragging sand bags away. I kept looking out of my window. The gate of my house is closed but my mind is restless. Every suspicious rustle, I peer out to see if they have come to take my loved ones away.
“How are you?” a college friend checked in from Instagram.
“If I don’t make it, please write a book about me,” I said.
Diana Zaw Win is a pen name for safety reasons.