Another day of…
|Image: All Rights Reserved|
|Athens, Ohio: Ohio University|
|Center for International Studies|
After breakfast, Way Way had to go to the front room to fill U Saw Han’s fountain pen with his ink and fasten it to his short pocket, fill his cigarette case, which he put in his pants pocket, and strap his watch onto his wrist after checking it for accuracy. Those were her morning chores before he left for the office. He returned for a meal at noon. When they sat at the table, she had to put aside any desire to mix the food and eat with her fingers as she was used to. She had to use cutlery according to the acceptable standards of another culture. As a result, she never enjoyed anything she ate and always felt vaguely unsatisfied. Whenever she went next door, she would run to the kitchen and take leftover rice from the pot, fried onions, fried garlic in oil, fish sauce, and red chili peppers, mix them up in an appetizing way with her fingers, and really enjoy eating. It greatly satisfied her inner hunger. All this was usually done in a furtive manner. Daw Thet would sigh and say, “Way Way, it worries me to see you this way.”
Way Way had to dress up formally every day as though she were a guest in her own house. She ate her meals with elaborate pretensions, was waited on during the many courses, and wore closed toe “lady shoes”. As soon as U Saw Han left for work she ran upstairs, kicked off her shoes, and walked about the house barefooted, Burmese style, free and unhampered. She had to take a nap after her noon meal regardless of whether she felt like one or not. After the nap, she had to get dressed for the evening. She lived a very routine, restricted life. When she went to bed at the same time every night, she would think, “Another day of duties and obligations over with”.
U Saw Han always wanted to know what she had done and how she had fared while he was away at the office. He questioned her as he would a little child. She had to tell him every little thing when he came home.
“After eating……I knitted for a while and then went to see my sister.”
“Wasn’t the sun hot? Did Maung Mya take you over there with a parasol?”
She would have been mortified if Maung Mya has followed her like a royal umbrella-bearer. She would have been so embarrassed that she would have missed her footing and tripped. She would have been conscious of people seeing her and thinking she was putting on airs. She would have been soaked with perspiration trying to make herself as small as possible under the parasol.
Extract from the book Not out of Hate, a novel of Burma
By Ma Ma Lay
All Rights Reserved.
Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Center for International Studies, 1991
Call Number: English 895.833 MA
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