To Hopeland and Back (Part IV)

So I was back in Taunggyi, the town that I left in 1969, 44 years ago, to save the world, or more correctly, the part of it where I live.

There was a song that I wrote at that time, Taunggyi-go-maung-pyan-la-myi (I’ll return to Taunggyi). Indeed, I have returned, if only for a short while.

There was of course no girl waiting for me. The girl that I used to know is already 63 years old and living in another town, probably with her grandchildren.

“Perhaps you would like to see her again,” my sister said. I replied, “I wouldn’t. In my eyes, I still see a lovely 19 year old with lush eyelashes and full of smiles for me. You wouldn’t want that kind of memory shattered to pieces, would you?”
But I wasn’t quite sure whether I really want it to be that way.


On the other hand, I was happy to meet my old friends, all of whom have gotten quite as old as myself. But all still feeling young and anxious to change the world “now that the time has come.”

And they were not alone. The whole country, unlike 44 years ago, was teeming with groups, young and old, male and female, calling and working for change, for a better future.

The surprising thing is the fact that it was the forces (or part of them) that had destroyed this part of the world that is making it possible for people like us to return and engage once more in hitherto forbidden activities.

Everywhere you look, there is full of hope. Hence, Hopeland, a name that came to me in a trance for this country.

Somehow it reminds me of the short-lived “Let a hundred flowers bloom” period in China when the people were allowed to air their views about life under communism. It will certainly be a tragedy if things in Hopeland turn out the same way.

But everything changes. So do people. Just look at me. I’m no longer the angry young man who was out to form the Communist Party of Shan State in 1969. In fact, it even seems rather strange that I used to be a Marxist and Maoist before.
Nevertheless, things are not reversible just because leaders say they are not. People have to work and work hard to make it irreversible.

I stayed 6 days in Hopeland, 21-26 September. Before I left, I promised my friends and myself I would be back to help them make right decisions with what I know best — information.

I do know of course I can’t do everything even if I know how to (which I’m sure I don’t). But if things turn out the way we all wish — a win-win solution — I’ll at least be able to lay down to my rest with the knowledge, like my once mentor U Tun Myint Taunggyi, that I have been “a slab of brick and a grain of sand” in rebuilding Hopeland.


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