Monday, November 17, 2014

Excerpt from my memoir--Middle Daughter--Messing in the Head--

I am sure there are plenty of husbands/men who don't understand fiction.

Mine did not and wanted to tell me what to think and whom to think about.

As in "You can think about your father as much as you want."

I think that is akin to dictatorship, telling people what to think.

It's called mind games, like messing with someone's memory or hypnosis. It is just done obliquely and over years in a "legitimate" setting, like marriage, socially sanctioned.

I just saw it done by one controlling wife right in front of me.

"Oh no, he did not visit us."

I pointed out exactly when he did and details and dates.  I said, "How could you forget that?"

Then the woman piped down and looked guilty.

I think of all the messing men and women do, messing or trying to mess in your head is the worse.

Best to resist it.

Sometimes it is combined with physical and emotional or mental abuse.

I am glad I and most of my friends were trained in rigorous environments like ecos.

or politics.

Even if we had no psychiatry or psychology in Burma and NW stopped anthropology, yet we did have the examples of some good mentors, and the behavior of some awful professors to look at and analyze among ourselves.

And as women we had ongoing conversations that spanned decades.

My own conversation with my dearly loved aunt went on for years.

It continued till the month before she was hospitalized and died suddenly.

At that last meeting, she made sure to tell me what Uncle had told her before he died (about a dozen years or more before that)--

she said, "Uncle said you were right about leaving the marriage."

And I told her some things about the extended family's properties in Moulmein.

She said, "(Did Uncle Dog) give you all the money from the sale of the house (one of Grandmother's) then."

I said, "No, he did not.  He was shin shinn bair"--clear, he would keep the money for the young children of his second family.

I said, "Mother.  She didn't go herself, but she sent me and --"

I said, "I stopped when I saw he was so sick."

As I said this, I suddenly realized Aunty was in the same moment of having difficulty breathing due to a failing heart, so I stopped right there.

I pretended I needed a glass of water, and I went into the pantry in notoriously hot Bangkok, and I did open the tap and get a glass of water.

I found my cousin H sitting by the oven.  I thought she was waiting and baking a cake like me, so she would not forget with no timer.

I said, I thought you went upstairs.

Hla (not her real name) said "I have to hide, otherwise she won't talk."

I am glad we were talking about me and the distant past, and I did not say anything hurtful.

--Even my mother was good about these things.

When she was dying of cancer, I sent a message through a friend.  It was very difficult and expensive to contact Burma in those days.

I did call but my mother could not hear on the phone, so everything had to be relayed over there through --Ko--my husband.

So I asked the friend to pl go and tell her, I was sorry I could not make the marriage she arranged for me work.

I know she meant well.

About a few weeks later, my friend left Rangoon again and relayed a message to me via email.

--You did nothing wrong.  There is nothing to apologize about.

I feel that at least that gave me some closure.

From my memoir Middle Daughter.

Copyright Kyi May Kaung

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