Thursday, July 03, 2014

Howl my inner wolf--by KMKaung

Happy Fourth of July to those of you who are a day ahead, and not yet enjoying--

I am still reading 1776, to the point where Washington has fought his way with his troops to about New York.

With the book on the US Constitution and Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States, these books stay near my pillow for decades.

I'm glad I ended up in America.

In my graduate school application essay I wrote, "I always wanted to study in a great liberal university."

I knew nothing of Philadelphia when I was in Burma.  My childhood friend said she had seen the movie The Philadelphia Story.

She said she'd read in a guidebook that Philadelphia was known for its ice cream.

The only large map of the world I had ever seen was stuck up in the asbestos corridor near the stinking bathroom where the toilets were always clogged and had lost their seats.

Just before I left, there was a great big fire and the entire section of the third floor overlooking  Prome Road of the Institute burned down.

The 3 of us getting the scholarship, one from each department, caused so much jealousy, there was no one left to talk to, almost.

And there was no time left either as we had to get our passports and our medical tests.

I hired an expeditor to guide me through the 25? or so offices where we needed our papers rubber stamped.

Our "personal history forms" were 4-6 pages of foolscap or legal size paper.

I was angry as I had to fill in the "address" of my father, even though he had been dead 30 years by the time I got the scholarship.

Shall I put in Kyandaw cemetery?

The clerk said, "Put in where he lived when he was alive."

I put in the Windermere Crescent address where we lived in the middle portion of the Crescent, between the houses of Commander Tommy Clift, Thakin Tha Khin, U Nu and the BBS (Burma Broadcasting Service).

My writing mentor musician/librarian K (U Khin Zaw) lived in the BBS building,

Twenty years later the jerk from hell at ASS-B radio pressured me to delete my remarks about this childhood in my radio program.

"Take out everything except the poetry."

And you wonder why I don't want to go back to these God awful places, some of them in America, right here.

I can still hear the fireworks booming, but they are behind the other wing of the building, so I can't see them.

No matter, I will see them tomorrow in their usual place.

Then we can gird ourselves for the anniversary of 7th July 1962, when the Burmese military shot unarmed civilians in Rangoon for the first time.

And scenes from 1962, I have also included in my novel Wolf.

I even wove in one of my favorite Shan princes, the late Dr. Chao Tzang Yawngwe, as a university student in 1962 dodging gunfire in my novel Wolf.

He died of a brain tumor in 2004 and I started writing Wolf in 2005.

But it's a fleeting view of a real person in a re-created scene, he and other famous people such as Daw Aung San Suu Kyi have only cameo roles in Wolf.

In Wolf, or course Wolf is the major character.

It was not difficult for me to write from Wolf's point of view, I just plugged into my inner wolf or wolves, and there are a lot of them--Howl, as the poet Allen Ginsburg wrote.