Dear Nan letter No 1

Compassionate letter No 1: A Valentine Music DVD with Love for Dear Nan

First published in Burma Digest and later reprint in my San Oo Aung blog with my Pseudonym, Bo Aung Din 

I know you were angry with my step mother, Daw Than Shwe for bribing the local authorities to put your uncles including U Khun Tun Oo behind bars. When you decided to go and stay with your father, I was not worried much. I believed that you already knew how much I love your uncle Khun, may be even more than you. Although he was your uncle he always treated me like his own younger brother and as you know, he was the one who introduced me to you. I tried my best but could not get him released immediately yet.

Sorry dear, I even stupidly teased you at that time to defuse your tension, with the song, “If you want to stay, stay put but if you wish to leave (me) and if you have no more desire to stay, go. I would not stop you. All human has pride. I could not provide every thing you like.”

But when I got a letter from my friend, Maung Chan regarding the meeting of my closed friend, Ko Tayza’s discussions with your father, Hso Kham Hpa, I was shocked that you really meant what you say. You want a divorce from me! I know that as the son of your grand father, who was the chief of your tribe but  became the head of our village, your father is always serious, straight forward and was upset with my family.

Before that, although we have some differences, you sometimes left me alone went to stay with your father; I always believe that our old (love) flames would never die. On previous occasions, although all the others pity us thinking that we were separated, we were never far apart. When I closed my eyes, if we just think about each other, we were never far apart, always in each of our hearts. We felt that we were physically far apart but psychologically present every where near each other.

I recently got a DVD collection of your favorite songs composed by Sai Kham Leik and Sai Hti Saing’s voice. I hereby sent this latest version of their songs, as a Valentine gift to you. I listen to these songs with the very heavy he art. The song I like best is asking his girl friend to think back before saying good bye and reminding her to think about the good times together before. If she has to cry once, requesting her, just to remember the more number of times (he made her) smiles…..

In good times we were flying in the wind, happily together. Now the wind stopped and you think yourself as a dried leaf without wings, lying helplessly on the ground. You blamed me that although I have wings, I am not with you anymore, failed to fly to you and ignored you.

Do you know that although I am a “Fighting Peacock” I am now confined in my cage by my step mother? You should know that according to nature (flying) birds are not happy even if kept in the golden cage! It is natural that birds love flying and flowers blossom. But my step mother is also trying to stop our love bud of democracy from blossoming.   She is trying to stop the process of nature. The power of nature is tremendous and no one could stop, or even if the whole world tried, they will definitely fail. THE BIRDS INCLUDING THE FIGHTING PEACOCK WOULD FLY AGAIN AND DEMOCRACY WOULD BLOSOOM IN OUR HOMELAND!

All the wrongs are not because of my fault alone my dear. Even if the roof is leaking I should not be blamed for the Rain. The darkness prevails in our country; there is no electricity and the moon is waning but the waning moon is the nature dear, not my fault! But from now onwards I try my best to repair the roof, try to buy a generator or repair our Kerosene lamp in time.

You must understand that all our problems are because of the in-laws only. You must accept that your mother-in-l aw i.e. my step mother, Daw Than Shwe is the root cause of all our problems. We are lucky; her sister Daw Khin Nyunt could not disturb us any more. She was beautiful, always smiles, sweet talk with any one but stab the back of the every one with her dirty tactics. As you know, as my rich, generous, kindhearted father U Aung San, who was loved by all of the people, passed away before I was born.

I was adopted by my uncle U Nu and all our estate were controlled by him. Although he looked after our family well, he was so soft, ineffective, and just wastes all the time praying, so his wife Daw Ne Win effectively take over our house and estate. Once she passed away we thought we all would be free but her cousin Daw Than Shwe trap my adopted father into marriage and is occupying all our estate my father U Aung San left behind.

What can I do immediately; I cannot fight back or pulled her out of our house because of respect for my late adopted father and her strong relatives of village goons and thugs. But we engage a lawyer and I hope the case is going to the UN Court soon. By the way our previous lawyer, Ko Yazali, who we never trusted, is still helping us now. Actually he also has our Burmese blood, quite diplomatic and is upset with Daw Than Shwe.  Our neighbours U Asean’s family is also now with us, persuading and pressuring softly Daw Than Shwe, to settle out of court and give back our rightful belongings. Actually our village’s influential strong men, U Sa, U Kay and U Eu are the real power giving pressure for us. We have to thank them. They are also requesting Ko Fi Annan from UN to help us. We hope and pray that the younger brother of Daw Than Shwe, U Maung Aye would persuade his sister and her rowdy relatives to abide by the law.

Do you remember my eldest sister Daw Su, who was married to a British academician? During one of the trips back home she saw all of us sufferings she stayed with us for a long time to help us. Because she took a strong stand supporting for you and me, Daw Than Shwe bribed the authorities and put her in a lock up with the trumpeted charges.

But she is well experience, full of wisdom, religious and fair minded. She promised that she would never revenge Daw Than Shwe and others and even proposed to work together as partners. She is right! The estate our father left is the biggest, largest, full of recourses in this region. There is place for all of us.

Only thing we need is to be fair to each other and every one of us must have a say in all the important decisions. My brothers and sisters living together in one roof and all of those staying outstation are all trying to help back all of our villagers including  you and me and our children.

Now you are asking for a divorce! Hti Sai’s same song came in to my heavy heart, “(I would not force you) if you want to stay, stay according to your decision, or  if you decided to leave for good, no more desire to stay with me any more, just go, I would not stop you by force. No need to ask permission from me. If you think any one could take care of you better that me, if any one loves you more that me, or any one could make you happier, go ahead. No need to seek permission from me.

But I am surprised and sad that even before we are legally separated, you are planning to marry again. I hope it is just the rumours or may be you want to make me jealous so that I would kneel in front of you.

If you stay alone, I hope you still remember the Wai Sansara Jattaka which we enjoy reading together. Madi Devi’s words to persuade to allow her to follow her husband King Wai Sansara are very real and pragmatic. No one will respect the divorced lady, single mother. Many men would try their luck just to have a short term pleasure.

If you are going to marry your distant cousin U Thak Sin @ U Thai or U Laos, I am worried about our daughter, who wishes to follow you. There is a saying that the devil you know is better than angel you don’t know. I am afraid of the possible exploitation of our daughter by the step fathers.

And U Laos house is a land locked place, no way to the water way, and he is poor and less developed and a Communist. Actually you are trying to take the time machine, to go back to 70’s of Daw Ne Win’s time. I hope you have already tasted enough bitterness of Socialism/Communism.

U Thak Sin is Yunan Chinese. (Please forgive me for this racial remark. Sorry, I am blinded with love.) Do you know that he is not fair to even with his own son because he married Ma Lay? Now they are living in the servant quarters in southern part of his compound. And do you know how he treated his own Ethnic Minority brothers? I had read that many of their daughters ended up in the brothels of the town. And his family is richest in the whole of his village. Villagers are now accusing that he misused his position to acquire wealth. And he is famous for the cruel rulings. He even has shoot to kill squads who killed few thousand of people in the north and south of his village.

If you marry U Ta Yoke, you will just become a minor mistress. He had to support many children from his numerous wives. Do you forget how this man chased out U Dalai Lama and took his wife Daw Tibet? And he recently got his favorite beautiful, rich, young wife Eurasian Ma Hong Kong. And he is threatening Ma Tai Wan to marry with him. Ma Ma Cao (Macao) is also one of his prized wives. So where is your place dear? I think he would just keep you as a concubine.

And if you really had decided to divorce me, think twice before you marry with any one again. If you have problems later it is very difficult for you to divorce and marry again. I hope you know the meaning of two types of socially outcast persons:

(1)   The young monk who changes three monasteries and

(2)   The lady who changed three husbands.

And you said you are also considering staying at the condominium together with the group of young men (1) forming a United Family of Southeast Asia – UFSA with the Arakan, Chin, Kachin, Karenni, Mon & Karen OR (2) Form an EU like grouping with the above partners, SEAU. OR OR OR….

Please stop hurting me my dear, Nan Sai Kham. If you can stay and work together with my other (ethnic) brothers, why want to exclude me out? If I am not around but you just go and stay with my brothers, the gossips will start to spread.

Even if you do not wish to continue staying as husband and wife, we all can still work together; stay together with all of us, including all of my brothers, for the good of our children. I hope dear Nan is just inciting me to do something quick to solve all our problems.

And I wish to inform you that at our latest ASEAN village meeting, we decided to draw a Charter for all of us to cooperate more, to start joint ventures and start cooperation. We could all work to mechanize our farms, orchards, animal husbandry, fish ponds, even to built factories, cooperation in trade etc. Actually we even agreed to look after our socio-political needs.

We even wish to copy the EU village group’s rules and regulations. No need to worry about local family heads, ten-house ward leaders, village chiefs. There will be Law and Order. Rule of Law but not Rule by Law. All must respect basic Human Rights. Even parents have to acknowledge the rights of their children. Our village would impose the Laws to prevent Domestic Violence. Even the husband could not do any violence on the wife or children. (Of course the effect of law must be vice versa, to be fair to all.)

Dear Nan Sai just look around at our neighbours. Naturally the problems are not only confined to us; almost all of the family members of our whole village are suffering from family domestic problems. We all have to work together to over come all those problems.

You know, U Mar Lay kicked out his wife Ma Singer Pu many years ago. We all thought that young, rich and beautiful Ma Singer Pu wished to separate. Actually her father Mr. Lee was so wise, intelligent, clever and efficient; U Mar Lay was afraid of Mr. Lee taking over the control of his house and decided to divorce. I heard Mr. Lee was in tears at that time. Now they are neighbours as conjoint twins. Always quarrelling but they know that they have to work synchronously together to prosper. You see, now U Mar Lay wanted to build a new bridge so that the trading boats could row under it. It would increase his trade.  Ma Singer Pu is demanding some sand for the land fill. Because of the wind condition, her children’s kites sometimes fly over the former husband’s compound. Because the children are noisy, U Mar Lay prohibited that. Now Ma Singer Pu is asking to let the children have some fun. (My favorite words spoken by Khin Than Nu to Ne Aung from Thin Gyan Moe movie, facing the similar situation.) Other children of U Mar Lay are also dissatisfied with their father’s favoritism practices. You see, how funny it is; after divorce these minor things were magnified by both sides and became big problems for them.

Love is blind but hate has a microscope to magnify all the minor problems.

You know, when Daw Indon’s son, Ko Ti Moe (Timao) wish to separate from his step-mother, Ko Au (Ausie) used force to help built a border fence. Now Ko Au is exploiting his weak neighbour. He even dug well in Ko Ti Moe’s compound without his consent. You see once you are divided and became weak, others could easily exploit or bully you.

You already knew about Ko Thai and Ma Lays’ marriage problem. Now Ma Lay wishes to divorce from Ko Thai and marry the neighbour, her distant cousin. Ko Thai refused to divorce and start to accuse his neighbour of all the things.

Ma Nilar’s family is also facing some problem with her husband Ko Mar Lay. Ko Mar Lay asked for a divorce and wish to stay with Daw In Don or Ma Mar Mar Lay.

So we are not alone. All the families in the whole village group have problems. You already know about problems of Daw Tibet.

And Ko Kalar’s children, Ma Ni Pur, Ko Nagar, Ko Ah Than are also not happy with their families. Actually they are half brothers of our Kachin, Chin, Naga e.t.c.

Amagyi Daw Su and all of us even agree to share and cooperate with all the above parties. Not only with your Ethnic Minorities of all the races and religions, Myanmar Military, ASEAN and may even include all the above mentioned children of our neighbours.

U Ta Yoke would not object if his eldest son Ko Yunan could join us together with Daw Ti Bet to form a loose union like EU. We all will be free to work, trade and live peacefully with human dignity. All our rights would be in the laws, rules and regulations. And all of us will be treated fairly, lawfully and equally under the same law.

The last thing I wish to remind you is don’t forget that although you are a Shan, you were born in Mandalay and I, a Burma was born in Taunggyi.

So could we cut our umbilical cords with our birth places? I am sure I love Taunggyi and I strongly believe you would not be able to forget Mandalay.

How about our five children? They were born in different states of Burma while we were in the Government Service. Now they all are in different states, three of them are with Government Services and the other two with their own business.

As they are married to different ethnic groups and are already settled in their spouse’s states, if Union of Burma divided into many small states, what will be their positions?

Mixed blooded, Shan and Bama, born in other state and staying in another state, will they need passports, visas, work permits? I dare not continue to think about their children, i.e. our grandchildren, I wish I get amnesia or Alzheimer’s disease. If not,I would get a heart attack.

Do you know that the last President of Singapore was born in Malaysia? Israel PM Sharon was born in Iraq? Present Indian PM was born in Pakistan? Do you know that ex-President of India, who passed away recently had a Burmese born Indian wife, who was graduated in Rangoon? Do you know Arafat was not allowed to bury in Jerusalem, which was his last wish? Do you that the ex-Malaysian Agricultural Minister’s wife was a Burmese descendent, last time blacklisted from entering Myanmar because she acted in a Hollywood movie about 8888 uprising, Beyond Rangoon? But after marrying the rich Agri Minister the Myanmar Junta welcome her with the Red Carpet.

Do you know that when the following countries were divided, the closed relatives were separated for dozens of years? To name few of them: Korea, Taiwan, Germany, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Kashmir. Do you know that when Soviet Russia breaks apart into many states they still needs to form a coa lition with Russia? Russia is still a big brother. (Dear Nam Sai, I am not giving excuse for some of the Bama leaders, who are acting like a big brother on all of you, Ethnic Minorities.) When some of them tried to stay away from that old big brother, and associated with EU, there are some problems created. See just the Ukraine gas price problem.

Now you see after break up of Indian Sub Continent in to many countries; India fight with Pakistan for three times. When East Pakistan tried to break away, there was a bloody war with Pakistan and India helped to form a new country, Bangladesh. Now India and Bangladesh are not in good terms. When Myanmar/Burma wants to build roads and gas pipe line to India, Bangladesh is demanding a lot. You see India had also refused to give a land bridge between, Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh. Pakistan is indirectly or secretly helping the Indian part of Kashmir for the liberation but it wants that part to be theirs. If they really wish to help all the people of Kashmir, they should offer their part independence so that divided Kashmir could stand strong. Now the people are divided and fighting, no hope of peace at all.

And you have to notice the difference of the leaders; General Than Shwe is not President Mikhail Gorbachev. Myanmar Military will use its might to prevent the breakup of Myanmar. Most of the citizens and even many opposition groups would not agree that breakup. If I am not wrong, even a leader of Shan rebel opposed openly about your divorce plan.

Dear my love, this is not the time to go backwards but FORWARDS. Not the time for BREAKUPS but to cooperate and for mergers. Many big companies and some countries are doing this. This is the time of GLOBLIZATION. The world is shrinking into a GLOBAL VILLAGE.

If you are interested I will later write to you about ASEAN CHARTER. We could model our ASEAN +++  with the EU/USA or other groups. We could even push for the fast track and overtake them.

You should listen to the advice of The United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan:

Ignorance and prejudice are the handmaidens of propaganda… Our mission therefore is to confront ignorance with knowledge, bigotry with tolerance, and isolation with outstretched hand of generosity. Racism can, will and must be defeated.

He continued that “There is no country in the world exempt of discrimination. …. there is still a long road to cross”.

For decades, thousands of people have been victims of discrimination, preferences and exclusions in view of their race, skin color, sex, religion, language, national or ethnic origin and form of expression, causing extreme suffering and even loss of life.  

Racial discrimination is the ability or power to make distinctions among people based on race, color, decent, national or ethnic origin rather than individual merit.

I agree with your father’s wise words, “We MUST establish real Federal Union in which all nationalities enjoy equal rights, human rights, peace and democracy.  We MUST unite and strive hard to catch up ASEAN’s level and speed. It is more necessary to work hard, after we have got democracy, for a more progressive and prosperous future in our country.

So if we all form a loose Federation/Union, not separated from our parents, work together with Laws that respect Democracy, Human Rights all our problems could be wiped out with one stroke of Common Law/ Rules/Regulation.

Who ever is the head of family, village elder or PM or President or King is not important. All are equal and could decide where to live and work. Any way, remind your father that your grand father was even appointed the village head during my adopted father’s time. And one of his Ethnic Minority brothers, U Man Win Maung was also our head once.

You see, dear Nan, when there is democracy and LAW is more powerful than all the politicians, of course in Myanmar scenario, including Military, Police, Judges and Prison Authorities, all the citizens are equal, safe, content and happy. You can notice that in U Sa, U Kay and U Eu’s village tracts all the villagers are protected equally with the established laws. Politicians are actually behaving like the servants of the people. Peoples are masters and politicians need the favour of the people to be elected to serve the peop le and country. You may not believe this because you were always in Myanmar, where ordinary citizens are the untouchables, at the lowest strata of class.

Dear Nan, you see when Ko Ger and Ma Ni’s village was last time divided and many people were killed by the border security thugs just for crossing the fence without permission. Now the big brother Ko Ger who is very rich, successfully persuaded poor Ma Ni to take down the fence and to merge the two villages and changed their name to Germany. They are much advanced than our politics dear, now with real democracy, the POOR MANI is the head of the village Germany.

If you wish to marry with Ko Ta Yoke, ask him first whether your children could be one day like that? I don’t think so. Even his favourite wife, Ma Hong Kong’s children are far away from that position. If U Ta Yoke really love Ma Tai Wan, he should give his villagers more democracy and offer one of the Ma Tai Wan’s villagers to be head of his village. No need to make a lot of show of force or twisting of hands is needed to continuously threaten Ma Tai Wan. I am not gossiping others, just want to present my dear that all that glitters are not gold and persuading you, not to marry U Ta Yoke.

If there is a real democracy there are chances and opportunities for each and every minor ethnic minority races and religions. Just look at the Ko Kala’s village: Ko Mus Lim is the chairman of the village council. Ko Pan Char is the village head. And you see, Ma Italy is o ne of the most influential person in that country. She was from other village, but she married into Ko Kala’s father and became a new “Ywar Thu” or citizen. Once she is accept as a villager, she got all the rights to be even the head of the village.

But she is clever enough to dodge the extreme nationalists by offering her closed friend a minority, Ko Pan Char to be the village head.

See, Daw Than Swe and her goons’ mentality is much lower than the Ko Kalar’s people! Our sister Daw Su was denounced many times because she had married the man from other village. This kind of discrimination is never accepted in true democracy.

One thing you should understand is “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Any one could be changed to a monster once he got the absolute power. So we must practice and defend for the democracy, transparency, good governance and the rule of law. If any one breaks the law, there should be no exemption, no immunity even for the heads and leaders. Then only each and every villager/citizen would be safe from the dangers of Dictators. And we must protect the minorities’ right from the tyranny of Majority. This is the essence of democracy.

Enough about others for now: let’s consider some effects or repercussions if you go ahead with the divorce plan.

How about my favorite “Shan Pae Poke” and Aung Ban Potatoes? We may need trade agreements; import/export permits/taxes etc.  Your favorite “Ayi Tawn La Phet” would face more problems. Have to import from Shan Country and export back the finished products; so even if you are lucky to have a chance to get your favorite food, you have to pay more for the same thing.

Dear Nan, please reconsider your decision to leave me. I hope you would still remember the first Valentine Day we met at ‘our’ beloved uncle Khun Tun Oo’s house. Valentine day is just around the corner. Like Hti Sai’s song, Now, I realized that I have to look back like “The lion looking back over its shoulders and understand that I have to tune back my songs.”

Now I know that our marriage deed or contract at Panglong town was a problem. Not that it was wrong; I failed to treat you as an equal partner and my step-mother’s misinterpretation and trying to rough out all of us, including minorities, in stead of persuasions and cooperation.

If I have a chance to start my life, I would still love you, I would still marry you. (Even if others say I was wrong to marry you) I would repeat that wrong decision and walk the wrong path hundreds of time again and again. After all we all know that Love is blind.

Now I don’t know how to continue with my life. I became crazy, half fool because of you. Anything I do I think about you, any thing I look I saw your face.

If any one is extreme or radical another partner will suffer. Because I am one sided you had suffered unfortunately. I know I have to change myself. In the future I will try to find out what you wish, what you want and will definitely try to fulfill all. I will be kind on you and will take care of you always.

We were now very near but felt far apart. .” Please don’t go, please don’t leave me my dear. From now on wards I would always consider what you want. Your wish would be my command.

Even if you decided not to come back to me, and Shan State says farewell to Burma, what can I do. I could blame the “Director of Nature” or fate, but now I understand that the main cause is misunderstandings, misinterpreting of others’ feelings and sufferings. Yes it is our fault, we Bamas including me must change.

I hope my dear love; Nan Sai would allow me to inform my feelings about Shans and kindly request one favour from your father.

Please just accept and believe the truth that not only I, but all Bamas and Burmese/Myanmars love Shan and ShanState. He will be surprised if you inform him that even my Burmese Chinese and Burmese Muslim friends love Shan States and some of them had married Shans. And just because I am a Bama man, please do not make a sweeping accusation that Bama men love to marry the Shan girls only. Some of my above mentioned friends are ladies married to Shan men! And just look at Sai Kham Leik, he is a Shan man, married to a Burmese lady Nwe Nwe Tin. I strongly believe at the bottom of my heart that you or your father would not attempt to separate the hearts of those lovers.

Although I am requesting a favour from you, I strongly believe that Human Rights must be mutually practiced by both sides. Although I am a Bama, I was born in Taunggyi, Southern Shan State. And I had a Shan spouse and had several half Shan children. Even if you decided to turn your back upon me and Shan Country successfully became a reality, I have the RIGHT TO CLAIM A SHAN CITIZENSHIP.

Forgive me my dear; I may be a little bit uncouth and very emotional , because I am intoxicated by the real fact that you are going to leave me behind alone and I also missed my birth place, Shan Land.

Anyway, please my dear, kindly request your father a last favour for me. Even if he refused to accept me as a Shan Citizen, please grant me a Shan Green Card (Permanent Residency status) so that I could spend my last days of sunset in Taunggyi, my birth place. Let me die and buried in my beloved SHAN LAND.

And I hereby make a sworn statement that if you decided to come back and stay together, I would re arrange the decision making process in our home. As the figure head of the house, even if the others thought that I am the GENERAL and you are just the MAJOR of the house, I would not be like SPDC Generals but I will decide only the general things that are not important. I will let you decide on all the MAJOR events.

So please show this letter of passionate plea to your father and discuss with him about our future. I am sure, after reading this letter; he will understand how much I love you and your Shan Pyi.

The choice is yours, but please consider all the situations, pros and cons above and made the informed wise decision, not an emotional knee jerk response.

Please, please dear Nan, think or consider back the two songs we love most before you decide. “The nature’s children” about the place free of wars and the one the one you changed the name of Sai Kham Leik’s song, “A song for Ko Tin Ngwe.”

My letter is too long already. You and I and we hope the readers also knew the songs. So I wish to end my letter with one suggestion for the future leaders of the Federation of Burma, “please reward all the SHAN ARTISTS who contribute a lot to our country with some awards and titles. There is the tradition in Burma and in U Kay’s village a lots of artists were awarded with “Sir� � titles.

With eternal love,

Your loving husband,

(Ko Ti Ngwe)

Bo Aung Din: I hereby sincerely wish to apologize, Hso Kham Hpa for using his name as Ko Tin Ngwe’s father-in-law. It is actually not totally wrong as Ko Ti Ngwe represents Burma/Myanmar and Nan Sai Kham represents Shan State and  as Hso Kham Hpa is the virtual head of Shan State. And I also want to apologize Dr Sai Kham Leik and Dr Ngwe Ngwe Tin also for using their names, of course as in reverse gender. I also could not ask permission to use his songs. And I had never attempted to translate his songs word by word, sentence by sentence. I just write down my feelings of the songs while I try to write this article.  And some of the songs were written by other composers. I hope all of you could understand and forgive me for all the above, because I am blinded with the love for our country and Shan State.


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