Monday, September 15, 2014

Flash fiction featuring my late mentor, Dr. Aye Hlaing, economic historian--

Flash fiction--

I had a strange dream, almost sure it was not a nightmare, in which I went and visited U Aye Hlaing in his office, to talk about my upcoming Ph.D. defense.
He said, "Expect some flak from someone named Baw Saing," (after the silver mine).

I know no one named Baw Saing.

In the dream the paper was about agricultural debt.

I have never in my life been a specialist on the agricultural sector, and never written about Berm agriculture except in the macro-context, regarding agricultural surplus and fixed state procurement prices in the macroeconomic context.

I told Saya Aye Hlaing that probably this Baw Saing wanted to come and say it was all his work.

Saya said, "It obviously is not, but you should not be complacent.  After all, they are open defenses, and anyone can come.

"I don't want you to be nervous, but you should prepare meticulously, review your data and go over it again."

I said Yes, I would do that.

I thought of the piles of printouts collecting dust in my other house in the country.

In this dream I was about 27 years old, and Saya was about fifty, perhaps.

In those days I thought of anyone sixty as very old.

I asked him what he thought was a reasonable date to give me time to prepare, and he said, "Maybe schedule the exam for the 3rd week of October."

I said I could prove that my paper predated Baw Saing's, as I had a dated pdf in which he had criticized me--I guess from a Jin nationalistic viewpoint, though it was not clear.

In this dated pdf he had referred to my unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, and therefore it was obvious he had not written my dissertation, which predated his "critique."

During our chat in the office, there were 3 other men who were uninvited participants who did not leave, who eavesdropped and even tried to join the conversation.

This is quite usual in Berm and Berm society, and I have even noticed a monk, who said he was not The U Jotika, eavesdropping on me and my student MMT, when I was explaining to him how he could get his wife to join him in the USA.

I resent this monk, who did not move away but pretended to be studying a painting near us.

This happens all the time, and in my dream, I mentioned it obliquely to Saya--"These people who are here running interference."

But the three Jin men did not move away.

Though they were somewhat better than the white woman, interested in Asian trade, who asked me if I was for engagement, or "Just another of those Berm specialists" at a presentation in DC sometime in 2009.

Because Saya said, "Third week of October,"

I thought of the family obligations I had with my husband's family, where an elder had just died.

Aloud I asked, "If I don't get through, can the exam be scheduled another time?"

He replied, "By Laws say it can be re-scheduled one more time, and that would be your last chance."

I thought how I would present it to my eldest daughter that I needed to come to her house in Charles Town and fly there by plane.

Suddenly, I was not 27 anymore, but 73.

Saya was asking me the ages of my 5 children, and I was calculating in my head and telling him.

The Jin were still hanging around eavesdropping and collecting information.

Copyright KMKaung

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