Saturday, May 12, 2012

Story the Communist Party of Burma

I was born in a jungle camp of CPB (Communist Party of Burma) HQ on the ranges of Pegu-Yoma in June 1956. My father then was a divisional military commander of CPB Peoples’ Army and my mother was a central committee member of CPB Women Congress. Before they joined the Party my father was an ex-army officer and my mother a young high school student. They met in the jungle and got married with approval of the Party.

Started in March 1948 the flames of Communist rebellion were still burning bright but the military situation in the mid 1950 was not in their favor like before in the beginning. Not only losing all their strongholds in the population centers of middle Burma the Communist were now being chased like the wild pigs in the jungle by the troops loyal to U Nu’s AFPFL Government while the pro-government militia kept them away from the towns and large villages.

In the beginning of 1956 a huge military operation named Aungmaga was launched against the CPB Central Committee HQ in the Pakoku District. Led by Colonel Kyi Win the Tenth Brigade of Burmese Army even captured the CPB HQ in early March 1956. When I was born the base military hospital was just a makeshift jungle camp comprising a couple of thatch-roofed bamboo huts in an abandoned teak plantation called Palway Kyowaing on the Pegu-yoma north west of Pyimanar.
There were male paramedics and a couple of midwives-cum-nurses and the matron was sister Daw Moe Swe, according to my mother. The camp basically had nothing decent to eat except the bamboo shoots and wild rock melons from the jungle floor. To feed my mother and the wounded comrades Daw Moe Swe and her fellow nurses and medics had to forage the jungle.

My mother was seriously malnourished and she was so thin and thus produced an extremely underweight baby. I was just a tiny skeleton covered with shriveled skin. This was what she so often said so many years later when I became an adult fairly big and strong.

“I couldn’t watch whenever Aunty Daw Moe Swe tried to inject you with some medicine to keep you alive. You were so miserably thin, just bones and skin, she always had a hard time finding one of your veins and you were screaming with pain till you had no energy or voice left to cry out no more.”

I do not understand why these bloody Communists tried to breed in the jungle. Maybe they didn’t have condoms or contraceptive pills back then especially in a jungle. My sister born a year and half before me died within few days after birth and my mother was half expecting I could go the same way. But I survived miraculously even a brutal raid by the notorious Chin troops. According to my mother the Chins attacked the hospital camp one day and killed many and captured alive Daw Moe Swe and the rest but she with me on her back escaped into the jungle.
She and the baby finally ended up with the family of a Party sympathizer in nearby Pyimanar and a few weeks later I was given to her eldest sister from the Delta town of Moulmeingyun about 200 miles away from Pyimanar as she couldn’t take care of me anymore. She desperately wanted to go back into the jungle and joined my father and his rag tag gang of CPB’s Red Army. So she wrote to her sister to come meet her incognito at certain date and time at Pyimanar Railway Station.

The transfer of baby me was done unceremoniously on the noisily crowded platform of the Railway Station. According to my adopted mother her baby sister whom she hadn’t seen since she joined the underground CPB at least ten years ago suddenly appeared beside her in the crowd and handed her a small smelly bundle and a handwritten note and immediately disappeared without even saying a word.

The bundle was three months old me in my own liquidy shit as I then had a non-stop diarrhea. And the note contained my name and my date of birth. My mother couldn’t hang around too long as she was shit scared of being captured by the police or the army or the town’s militia.

My dear mother didn’t see me again till I was ten years old and she was captured alive together with my younger brother by the Chin troops and then released only after they had been kept at their battalion compound in Magwe for more than a year as hostages till my father agreed to surrender. 
She was extremely lucky as the CO, Colonel Min Kyi, of the Chin Rifle Battalion which captured her was a young cadet officer in my father’s guerrilla battalion fighting the Japanese in the last year of the Second World War.

I had basically no maternal or paternal bonds with both my parents for I grew up a civil war orphan. My mother’s desperate cure for repairing that serious detachment was frequently telling me stories and events about that three months immediately after I was born and before I was abandoned. Daw Moe Swe was always there in her stories.

How she took care of me, how she kept me alive, how she suffered in the hands of Chin soldiers because of me, and why she gave me a life worth living. After the old lady was captured she still refused to surrender to the army and they finally charged her with treason and jailed her 10 years with hard labor.

After so many times hearing the stories I even started felling guilty for her being in a prison for that long as if she’d delivered only one Communist baby in her life and unfairly suffered for it. Only later I realized she was the head matron of all the Communist midwives and personally delivered or helped deliver hundreds of babies in various Communist field hospitals. I was probably the last Communist baby for her.

Eventually she was pardoned and she went back to her hometown Pakoku and lived with her aging mother and passed away peacefully in late 1970s. She came to Rangoon only once just before she died and my mother and many ex-commie mothers visited her at where she was staying. I was then in RIT and I was the only one in a university among the sorry bunch of jungle-born teenagers accompanying their mothers that day.

Almost all of them I met that day were troublesome kids as if their difficult jungle-births had basically damaged their brains. Drug-addicts and petty-criminals almost all of them according to their complaining mothers. But my mother didn’t say a bad thing about me to them even though I ran away from home at least three times. And she didn’t mention about me growing up basically in Aung-San-Thuria Hla Thaung Cadet Regiment the army-boarding-school for the miscreant sons of army officers.

Also she didn’t say anything about me trying to get into the Defense Services Academy (DSA) after the matriculation and how my father killed my lifelong dream by not signing the parental consent on my DSA application. I still remembered what he angrily told me then that he would never let me become an army officer and kill the Communists of CPB to whom I basically owed my life and thus my whole existence. 

She also didn’t tell them about me running away that year and joining the army as a private and the horrible fact that I’d fought and killed the Communists on the Chinese border in Kachin State for almost two long years in the army.

As my mother’s turn came to meet Daw Moe Swe and she introduced me to her the thin old lady said to me a few simple words that have stuck with me for the rest of my life.

“My sacrifices are well worth it as long as you’re doing something good for our country.”    

From that day onwards whenever I did something seriously bad I remembered her words and felt guilty. When I did have a chance to emigrate from Myanmar to Australia in 1986 I hesitated for over two years. Even today I still feel guilty for abandoning Myanmar in 1988 whenever I think of the thin old lady I met many years ago. 

Then one day in last week I accidentally clicked onto a Burmese democracy site called Myanmar ISP and pleasantly found an E-book named “Dawn Traveller” written by Yebaw Ngwe of CPB now in the Yunan Province of China. (For some reason the normally secretive CPB is now allowing or even seemed to be encouraging the old cadres to write their memoirs and I am now in heaven after discovering the books.)


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