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Seven years after I came upon the State

The 1975 storm rocked me and my hometown.

Our teak house undulated in the wind.

As a kid, I said, ‘It’s fun mother. School is fun.’

A few years later

The State held a socialist referendum,

Complete with doepat-drums, flags and picture posters.

The State handed out questionnaires to us, the tiny public.

I said, ‘It’s adult’s business.’

The State promoted me to pubescence, and I,

In the old environment, notched up year after year,

Two years for two grades and so on,  

In an orderly fashion.

I even won a girlfriend from the merciful State.

Forward Youth, Socialist Programme Youth, Multi-talented Socialist Youth…

The State even permitted me to own a bookshop, for

I wasn’t good at anything. ‘Read…!’,

The State ordered and left. I whined,

‘The State hasn’t come back.’

‘The State hasn’t come back.’ After a long while,

The State came back, with a cranky face.

With an incisiveness, he upgraded me  

To 20 years of age.

He told us to repeat after him.

Out in the street, the State bellowed, ‘Our cause!’

I bellowed, ‘Our cause!’

The State bellowed, ‘Down with the one-party system!’

I bellowed, ‘Down with the dictatorship!’

The State said, ‘It’s 8888!’ In our town,

Me and my friends began to move.

They called it a mass movement. After me,

‘Soe Moe Tun’ came through the paddy fields.

It was dark and silent for several years.

The State seized books for co-operative rice from

The houses of Robert Owen and Dr. William King.

During the dump and doltish days that followed,

The State seemed he had given up on me.

I too couldn’t bridle the State.

The State wasn’t expecting me.

I too wasn’t expecting the State. We just lived off the cuff.

Around 1990, the State sent me a letter.

Around 1991, I sent him a reply.

I showed him the bandage around my head and said

‘It’s time for jasmines to bloom.’

‘Go to the nearest clinic.’, the State responded.

‘A shirt with only one sleeve?’, I asked.

‘I will saw off the other sleeve too.’, the State menaced.

I submitted a general report titled ‘On the Grass.’

No acknowledgement whatsoever from the State.

I said, ‘Bassein.’

The State said ‘Censored.’

I said ‘Echo!’, so we could learn a lesson.

This time, the State said, ‘Of course I too

Am afraid of what you call comeuppance…’

Then the State settled me down.

The State also gave me some responsibilities, known as ‘a wife.’

And a few benefits, known as ‘a son.’

Yet the State explicitly decreed,

‘Don’t make noise.’

In Rangoon, the State said, ‘Whenever you stay

Overnight here, you must submit

The overnight guest-list to the authorities.’

I forged ahead. So did the State.

I kept longing for the State.

The State reappeared in 2010.

He will give us a President. And a Parliament.

An election. A leader.

And now the State apologizes me for

Corruptions, fears, and abyssal holes of poverty.

The State says right in my face,

‘You guys own the State.’

I glance at the State, ‘The State owns me.’

I read my family poem that begins with

‘To the raindrops…’

The State mirrors me with ‘Never will be broken…’

The State sings along.

The State nods and nods...

The State’s been down in the mouth for a long time.

 

 

                Win Myint

 

 

The poem is the joint winner of the 2012 Central  Yoma Poetry Award.

Translated by ko ko thett