For Her Indomitable Will
This essay is a follow-up to my essay about giving my granddaughters a writing assignment. Ti Ti, Snow, and Fatty are to write poems that will reflect the new reality in which they live. They are to put their pens to describe dealing with COVID-19 and the coup d'état. In that article, I reflected upon how Moh Moh, as a child, faced her new reality in the wake of the 8888-Uprising.
Moh Moh is an excellent teacher. One of her teaching moments had to do with our discussing the effect of living during the 8888-Uprising. In 1988, she was a child who went to bed each night wondering if there would be enough food for her and her younger siblings for breakfast the next morning.
In Moh Moh’s quiet way, she personalized the 8888-Uprising. I only knew the facts. Listening to her recount the story radically changed my knowledge of that historical event. We were in Yangon while discussing 88888. We wanted to visit Than, my artist friend. However, I also had the opportunity to talk with Moh Moh’s mother. While spending time with her mother, I found myself thinking about what it must have been like three decades ago. Moh Moh’s recollections resonate with me. I imagine the angst of a small child and her parents worrying about having enough food for the next day.
That’s the backstory. In a recent email to Moh Moh, I asked her whether she remembered an event on my first trip nearly nine years ago? I told her about an event that still haunts and hurts me. As with other transformative times for me, I clearly remember what happened and what was said. It is forever etched in my psyche.
Trust me. I don’t remember where we were. Moh Moh was my tour guide, so we were in a small village near or on Inle Lake. I really don’t recall where we were or anything else about this incident. Obviously, we were just walking around in this little town, and I happened to see a picture of the Lady, Aung San Suu Kyi, posted next to the front door of someone’s home.
After taking the photo, we talked about the Lady. I asked Moh Moh how long it would be before Myanmar started to move toward some sort of democracy. Moh Moh’s response to that question is also etched into my mind. She said that it wouldn’t be in her lifetime, but she hoped that things would have improved somewhat in her children’s lifetime.
Even then, Moh Moh’s comment haunted me since then. Tragically, on January 6, 2021, Trump attempted a coup. A month later, the generals in Myanmar staged a successful coup. Moh Moh and the rest of my family are dealing with both the coronavirus and a military coup. Moh Moh refers to these days as the dark times, which is true. Nevertheless, Moh Moh deals with that reality…and continues on.
Moh Moh and Mahatma Gandhi never met. If they had met, he would have commented on Moh Moh’s drive despite the dark times. This would have been Gandhi’s tribute to Moh Moh’s drive and determination. “Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.”
Gandhi would have been spot-on. Moh Moh possesses an indomitable will even amid the chaos caused by the coronavirus and a coup.